I love playing with food! I have spent more than my fair share of time watching Food Network shows and trying to bake like a contestant on the Great British Baking Show. But when it comes to actually sitting down and making a plan for my weekly menu I get stuck.
I finally stopped trying to meal plan at all and I would go to the grocery store and fill up my cart with all kinds of items that I could just combine together depending on my mood and cravings each day. But this started getting stressful. Really stressful. I was spending too much time and money at the store just trying to make more options for myself and my family at home. Then the dreaded question: “What’s for dinner” would trigger panic and about 15+ minutes of staring at my pantry and fridge trying to figure out what in the world we were going to eat for dinner.
My dreams of playing with ingredients and making dinner masterpieces were shattered. My kids had decided that they only had about 5 meals they would eat and they DID NOT appreciate anything fancy or foreign in our meals.
I needed a new strategy.
I had some experience planning out very specific meal plans while I was working as a Beachbody coach. I had beautiful, color coded, mega-“healthy” meal plans that were very popular with my customers and on Pinterest. I followed them while I was on the programs and they worked really well for what I was needing at the time, but now that I was switching into Intuitive Eating and listening to my body, I didn’t know how to meal plan without diet guidelines. Trying to navigate through all the “shoulds” of meal planning, plus pleasing the palettes of myself, my kids, and my husband, was getting MESSY.
I had to take a step back, zoom out, and look at what I really wanted in my meal plans.
I just wanted it to be as easy as possible.
So I sat down at my computer, called my kids in, and we wrote out all the breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas we could think of. Then we filled in the spaces of the calendar with whatever sounded yummy and easy to us at the moment. It took us less than 15 minutes to fill the menu for the week and before I knew it I was off to the store with my simple, easy meal plan in hand.
What did I do differently than I had done before? I had included my kids in the planning, and allowed the menu to be imperfect. If I planned spaghetti on Wednesday and we decide not to eat spaghetti, I can switch it with another dinner for the week or create something else with the ingredients I have. No pressure to be perfect!
My oldest son had an issue with my new plan at first. He wanted me to stick to the menu no matter what. He didn’t understand why I would make a plan that I wouldn’t stick to 100%. It was a good opportunity for me to talk about intuitive eating and doing the best we can with what we have. If I don’t have enough time to make lasagna, I can make mexican pizzas or chicken taco salad. It’s ok to be flexible!
As weeks have gone by, I have either redone the entire list with new ideas, or just scribbled out a few options and replaced them with something else I wanted, always going back to my value of ease and keeping it simple.
This is a sample of my super simplified, easy-peasy menu:
What works for me right now may not work 5 years from now. I am choosing to allow my meal plan to change an evolve with my life! It’s liberating!
We had a great discussion about meal planning with Beth Summers, our food guru. Find it within our Free Course for a limited time. Expand your perspective about meal planning! It was a great lesson for all of us, including for me and my messy meal planning ways!