Making Mealtime Easier

Maybe it’s just me, but mealtime is SUCH a pain. I feel like I’m always running out of ideas and now that the girls are in school full-time, afternoon and early evenings around here are really hectic.

I need a plan. A meal plan to be more specific.

There was one summer when I did a great job of planning meals and buying groceries ahead of time. Mealtime was much less stressful and much more pleasant then. So why did I stop? I’m not sure. Things got busy, as they do, and I got out of the habit.

One of my goals for the new year is to reduce the stress I’m feeling. To help with that, I’m going to stop making things harder for myself. When I don’t have a plan (for dinner, among other things) I feel more stress than I need to. So it’s meal plan time!

I’ve found several options for meal planning that I want to share with you. Some are more involved than others, so if you’re interested in making your own meal plans, you should be able to find something here that will work for you.

  • Erin Rooney Doland, author of Unclutter Your Life in One Week [my review], has a weekly meal plan template that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and a place for a grocery list. Also, has a new sister site called Simplifried. According to the website, “Our goal is to make feeding yourself and your family as painless as possible.” Naturally, I’ve already subscribed to their updates.
  • Ivory at Little House in the Suburbs introduced me to Say MMM, which is a web-based meal planning application. If you prefer your tools automated, Say MMM may be the way to go. Even better? It’s FREE!

To solve the mealtime hassle in my own home, I’m going to set aside some time each Saturday to discuss meal options with my family. From there, I’ll make a list of lunches and dinners for the week and compile my grocery list. On Sunday, I’ll make a trip to the store and buy all of the supplies I need.

I’ll still have to cook amidst the chaos that often accompanies the dinner hour, but I do think that knowing what I’m making and having the ingredients on hand will make the whole event less stressful for me.

How about you? Do you plan your meals ahead of time? Do you think it’s made your life easier?

Photo Credit: gordasm


  1. Hi there! I have to tell you I’ve started a Name Bubbles/Planetbox revolution in my kids classroom! I think of how much your blog has helped me with just those two things! Finally! I can give you some of my resources……I love to menu plan – any type of planning makes me happy!

    I love the printables over at Organized Home – especially this menu planner with attached shopping list. Such a good idea! I switch between that template and this gorgeous one from The Project Girl:

    Another couple of tips for menu planning…

    – Give each day a special type of meal – e.g., Taco Tuesday, etc…..that helps you pick the type of meal to make and gives the kids something to look forward to at dinnertime.
    – Pick one cookbook/magazine/website and see if you can plan your meals from just that single source. Right now we are using the Flexitarian Diet book – the Tortilla Soup was a huge hit last night.
    – Rotisserie chicken is a lifesaver (if it is organic and free range). My local Whole Foods has a special on it every Tuesday. The kids school is two blocks away so it’s no biggie to swing by and grab one at pick up time. We have chicken and broccoli for dinner that night, then I use the rest of the chicken to make a BBQ sandwich mixture (which I freeze for the weekend), and then use the carcass to make stock. That’s three meals for my $5.99. Pretty awesome.

    I really can’t thank you enough for all your content!

    P.S. Any ideas on doing composting in the winter in Chicago? I got a tumbler but started my composting too late I think. Everything in there is just frozen.

  2. Wow, Trish! Thanks for all the tips & suggestions. It’s funny, everytime I go to the school to have lunch with my kids, all the other parents want to know where I got their lunchboxes. 🙂

    Let me do some research and I’ll try to help you solve the frozen compost problem. . .

  3. Thanks Beth – I used these tips this week and I’m not dreading dinner time anymore.


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