Help Wanted: Meal Planner

I am so glad a lot of Easter leftovers sit in the fridge so I don’t have to plan meals this week.

I love eating dinner but get so bored thinking of what to have every night.

Believe me, I probably have thousands of recipes.  Always hopeful with the scissors in hand, I peruse magazines and the weekly food section of the Tribune and clip away with abandon.  I do love the fantasy of detailed meal plans, just not the actuality of making it happen.

Friends post a recipe on Face Book and I am ready to have it for dinner ASAP.  Not hard to imagine “quick chicken mole” or whatever on my table. By the time I list all the ingredients and go to the store, I have lost all my excitement.

I still save sentimental recipes from my new-bride days, stuff we don’t even like any more but I get caught up musing about a nostalgia-night one evening.  The idea sounds fun in the middle of the night before I need to go shopping and then actually make that dish. Too much trouble.

My intention is for healthy, easy and fun meals from my kitchen but if only someone else could plan and shop.  The cooking part I don’t mind.

As a Life Coach, I help other women come to terms with this re-cycling issue of planning dinner.  Like washing someone else’s dishes, the task always seems so easy when it’s not your own.

What seems to work best is the “categories for each night of the week” system. Sunday: something in the crock pot, Monday: a new recipe, Tuesday: fish of some sort, Wednesdaywhat is Wednesday anyway?  Thursday: something fun & ethnic, Friday: pot luck/leftovers/go out, Saturday:  PIZZA of course.

As you can see, there are a few gaps in my system.  Often “stir fry” appears on the table as I almost always have those ingredients on hand.

I once tried planning meals for a month at a time.  Just imagining the process overwhelmed me but not having to think about it for awhile was such a relief.  I think I lasted for 2-3 months on that plan.

So I have a week off, or at least a couple of days but the task will be back…the one list I don’t like to make.

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6 Responses to “Help Wanted: Meal Planner”


  1. 1 Beth O'Neill April 9, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    I actually speak on this topic. The title is “Meal Planning On a Budget” I speak to recovering addicts – It’s a Life Skills class. I suggest to them planning a week at a time using international categories (Italian, Mexican, Chinese, American) as well as breakfast for dinner and leftovers. The sad thing is that I suggest planning a week at a time but that is usually not the reality of what happens at my house. I feel your pain!

  2. 3 jan peterson April 9, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    i think i could have written this myself! maybe it’s our age. i now have the time to plan some tasty meals, but somehow, i just can’t seem to get from here to there. sometimes, krogers sends some yummy recipes with coupons. seems like such a simple endeavor. but NO! that’s even harder. jan

  3. 4 Letitia Suk April 9, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    Appreciate the affirmation, Jan!

  4. 5 Bethany Elston April 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    Tish – I like this idea of having categories. I think my mom probably did something like that and I never realized it. I also love the adventure of trying new meals, and I do still rotate in new things, but I am realizing that adding kids to the mix starts to make the dinner hour too crazy to make anything that takes a while to prepare – otherwise we’d end up eating at 8 pm or later! Thanks for the thoughtful tips!


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