How many times a week do you dread saying the words “what should we have for dinner?”.
Each and every day you know that dinner (supper in this house) will be happening, and yet, some days it’s a struggle to want to make any plans.
Here are a few tips to try and avoid the stress that comes with the decision each and every day.
Have a plan.
Personally, I can’t meal plan. I can’t sit down on Sunday and figure out the next five days of meals because some days I give in to cravings but having a rough idea of some meals that can be made is helpful. It makes grocery shopping easier too.
Some people plan each meal out. I have a friend who cooks for the week, chops up vegetables for quick snacks and adds to their freezer each weekend. With both her and her husband working, this makes for easier decision making on busy days.
Stock the Essentials
I pride myself on being able to make a meal out of next to nothing. I can usually alter recipes on the fly or make them up as I go.
However, having the essentials stocked helps. It means that no matter what, some sort of easy meal can be made.
What essentials? Crushed tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, dijon mustard, pasta, rice, beans, herbs and spices are a good start.
There’s nothing wrong with easy
Not every meal has to be a production. Sometimes, simple is best. Breakfast for supper, toasted tomato sandwiches, soups – these are all great alternatives.
Use your Slow Cooker
For the 15 minutes of prep time it takes earlier in the day, having a hot meal ready to go when it’s the busy/cranky supper hour is a blessing. Try this chili recipe to start.
Cook for more than you are serving
I try to always make leftovers. Not only are they perfect for lunch the next day, but you can use them for future suppers. Making chicken breasts for supper tonight? Add a couple extra in the baking pan, chop them and freeze them for later in the week.
Casseroles, slow cooker meals and other large quantity meals are great for freezing. Always have some freezable containers handy.
Ask your partner to join in
Don’t hold the supper burden yourself. Ask your partner to either offer suggestions for meals, do the grocery shopping or pick a night that he or she can make a meal themselves. Sometimes I find just being given an idea (ie: let’s have tacos) means that I can make a plan and not stress about the decision.
Have a make your own night
Once and a while, just like in my university days, we have a ‘fend for yourself’ or ‘make your own’ night. We feed the kids a typical meal for them, then my husband and I have whatever we each want. Sandwiches, left overs, cereal. We sometimes forget that it’s ok to that sometimes!
Have a take out budget and enjoy it
We don’t get out to restaurants the same way we did before children, but we do enjoy good take out once and a while. It’s all too easy to say ‘let’s do take out’ but sometimes it’s the best option and a great treat.
What are you tips for reducing meal planning stress? Do you do any of the above?