Mylène Houle Morency is a Montreal based Professional Organiser from Flo Organisation who loves nothing more than sharing her top tips on how families can plan for success.
When I speak about meal planning, I’m often greeted with ‘’Meal planning isn’t for us, it doesn’t work for our family. I’ve tried before and it never lasts. When I plan, I end up not even wanting to eat what is on the menu. I’d rather eat what I feel like eating.’’
Does this ring a bell? Do you recognize yourself here?
If I think of my time in-home with clients, and of my experiences with clients in my online course on meal preparation, four challenges come to mind in terms of what derails meal planning:
The family’s schedule isn’t taken into consideration
Pardon the expression, but the proverbial cart is often put before the horse when it comes time to meal plan. We think of what we’d like to eat or ask our family members what they’d like to have for supper before even thinking of what is on the agenda both at home and at work. In reality, once the moment comes to meal plan, one should really take a look at the agenda and choose a meal that corresponds with what’s in store for us that night. Late meeting at work or taxi duty for the kids’ activities? Choose an easy meal. Feeling like testing out a new recipe? Pick a weekend night to give yourself the latitude necessary, should the recipe take longer to prepare than expected!
Too many choices for recipe ideas!
There must be stats somewhere that confirm my theory that never before have we had so many options and ideas on what to plan for supper!
Bookstores are overflowing with titles
Magazine kiosks keep adding options to the mix
Pinterest boards are constantly growing with new pins of what that perfect version of us should make for her family
We often share our newly tested and approved recipes via email and text messages.
No wonder planning is complicated, we don’t even know where to turn to with all that choice and all those places. As with most things to do with organizing, we often need to come back to finding one place for everything and putting everything in its place.
Not enough variety
Here in Canada shepherd’s pie, macaroni and spaghetti come back a bit too often on meal plans. Those dependable familiar recipes are often an easy win with picky kids, and increase our odds of seeing them clean off their plates.
But the danger in that is that monotony slips into place and kills our interest in meal planning. I find this is also often a root of the problem for those who resist meal planning. Meal plan? No thank you, I can pretty much guarantee I won’t feel like eating spaghetti next Tuesday!
Is meal planning boring and discouraging for you? I suggest you take a look at what you’ve been cooking up over the last few weeks and see if you’re dealing with too much repetition. If that’s the case, think of injecting a small dose of novelty!
Overplanning and wasted food
I often recommend to only meal plan on three of the weekdays, and to leave wiggle room for the other two meals, relying on pantry meals or previously prepared and frozen meals. Also, if you’re starting from a place where you are simply looking to increase the number of homemade meals you serve, set yourself up for success. Start with one homemade meal per week and gradually increase them. Progress not perfection, as with everything!
When in comes to weekend meals, situations vary from one family to the next, so investigate again:
- Do you often get invited for Sunday night dinner at the in-laws’ house?
- Do you have a date night every other week which requires you to serve a meal for your kids and the sitter?
- Do your kids’ late afternoon football games often throw off your planning and have you swing by the restaurant for take-away instead of starting to prepare a meal at 6:30 on a Saturday night?
There you have it, four potential solutions to get a handle on your meal planning, and to inject a dose of simplicity and ease (not to mention making meal planning *gasp*, enjoyable?). Which tip will you put into action first? Happy planning!
Mylène Houle Morency runs Flo Organisation in Montreal. If you'd like to know more about Mylene and her online meal planning course you can take a look at her website