The Dreaded “What’s For Dinner?” No More!

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Does the question: “What’s for dinner?” strike fear in your heart?

by: Kristen Yarker

Most parents tell me that the most crazy, stressful time of day is the dinner-bath-bedtime routine is a crazy-making rush.

One way to make things easier is to plan your meals. When I suggest creating a meal plan, often Moms respond with something like:

I’m already crazy-busy. How am I supposed to add one more thing to my life?!”

I agree that at first it seems like making a meal plan is adding more to your already overly full schedule. But, in reality it actually saves time and stress.

I grew up watching ‘80s cartoons. One show had a saying that they’d repeat:

Knowing is half the battle

This phrase is true when it comes to meal planning.

A good portion of the stress of making dinner each night is figuring out what the heck you’ll make. Many people admit that this thought (and it’s stress/ worry/ fear) starts creeping into their minds at about 4pm (if not earlier).

Not having a plan leaves you multi-tasking to come up with some idea while you’re finishing up your work day and fighting the traffic to get home and/or to extra-curricular activities. What are the consequences of not having a plan?

  • Running to the grocery store when the store is at it’s busiest. Not fun. Especially with little ones in tow.
  • Increased food waste. That cauliflower that you bought 3 weeks ago thinking that you’d figure out something to do with it – it’s now a multihued science experiment in the bottom of your crisper.
  • More money spent on food. All those extra trips to the grocery store mean more of your money going towards food. Add to that the money spent on eating out and take out. It’s money that would look much better as a new pair of shoes.
  • Unhealthier eating habits. Most convenience, prepared, takeout, and restaurant foods have higher sodium (salt), higher unhealthy fat, and fewer vegetables than homemade meals. Being in a panic to get dinner on the table also usually means falling back on the same 3 meals. Even if those meals include super foods, they won’t lead to as healthy habits as eating a wide range of foods.

I admit that it does take time to sit down and create a meal plan. But doing so will save you hours of stress each week.

It’ll also save you time and money. Imagine no more:

  • Last-minute trips to the grocery store.
  • Staring blankly into your fridge.
  • Garbage bins full of veggies.

Does the structure of a meal plan make you feel constrained? Remember that it’s your plan – change it whenever you want! Did you plan to make a complicated, new recipe tonight but you had an awful day and all you want to do is order pizza? Order the pizza! And revise your plan so that the ingredients for that new dish are used up before they go bad.

Not convinced? Give it a try, just for this month. It’s only 4 weeks.

Do you plan your meals why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD helps you experience the pleasure (and energy) of healthy eating. After 6 years of only working with the toughest customers (i.e. picky kids), she is now serving adults who want amazing energy to live their busy lives without sacrificing the pleasure of delicious food. Discover how (and get recipes too) at, on Facebook,  Twitter: @KristenYarker and Pinterest: KristenYarker


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