Meal planning can make dinners joyful again.
There was a time when I loved cooking meals— when I got excited about picking out recipes and trying new foods to make. I looked forward to making dinner at night or preparing meals while my son took his daytime nap. There was a time.
Now, it is exhausting. Thinking about having to feed these people three times EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Managing different allergies and requests only to then be welcomed by the long, arduous task of sitting at a meal where nobody enjoys said food. It is exhausting. It has exhausted me to the point that I have practically given up. It has exhausted me to the point that I have decided it is okay to stick something in the microwave and heat it up. It has become fine to look at my husband and say, “I don’t know what’s for dinner. Don’t we have leftovers?” However, I knew deep down that that is just not me.
I actually like cooking. I like the preparation. I like planning and trying new recipes. When I heard on a podcast about a different type of meal planning, I got excited. I decided this is it. This is what I need. I set out to do this for the month of January. After one month of preparing meals this way, I can say I am hooked.
Different people may approach this plan in different ways, but I started small. I decided to stick with three meals a week. I would prepare the same three meals for dinner each week for the whole month of January. This did not necessarily mean that every Wednesday night was our Thai Curry night, but more so sometime during each week, I would make the Thai Curry dish. One time each week for the entirety of the month.
In preparing the same three meals each week, I was able to continue to use ingredients that were not entirely used in one meal. I could also use a consistent grocery list (minus the leftover ingredients) for my weekly grocery trips. This month I picked a Mexican dish, an Asian dish, and a bowl made to each person’s liking. We were able to find three new meals we like as a family, and I added these meals to recipe cards to use later on.
This month was a major win for meal planning in our family. We ate three healthy, vegetable-packed meals for dinner throughout the week. I streamlined grocery shopping and the general planning process. Most importantly, I took some of the stress out of the kitchen and enjoyed cooking again. I am eager to continue this habit throughout 2021 to find more healthy recipes and love cooking for my family again.