Meal Planning

I am lousy at coupons and worse at meal planning. Our house has a very, “Well, what are you in the mood for?” vibe going on.

Well, that’s got to stop because I have to start sorting out coupons and budgeting and stupid money things. (They’re not stupid. I’m just frustrated. I shouldn’t do that. I’ll try better next time.)

I am sure I could go find a website to teach me how to plan meals (which translates to making a shopping list, the way I’m thinking about it). I could get myself a spreadsheet and add some dates and some meal columns and try that out, I guess. Instead, I think I’ll try to think about our week and what people tend to eat when. Maybe most of that’s impulse eating (I’m not the only one who tries to shove my feelings down with food), but maybe that will become clear when I go through it, too.

So let’s see…


The kids really like Pop Tarts. That’s not great for them. We have cereal, but nobody can decide what they really like, and we usually end up with tons of food nobody eats until I finally give up and start chowing down on it as an evening snack. As evening snacks go, it’s not bad. Stale (even with the giant plastic pitchers designed to prevent that exact situation), but not bad.

My son, having run out of Pop Tarts this morning ate toast. My daughter didn’t think she had time for toast, so I made her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Making the PB&J, I kind of felt like I should pre-assemble a lot of those, so they’re easy to get at through the week. In fact, I probably should do exactly that, for reasons I suspect I’ll get to during the Lunch review.

My husband likes Pop Tarts as well, but he’ll eat cereal with much less resistance than the kids offer up. He likes to eat straight from the box, so I’m not sure if prepping sandwich bags with cereal would help him or not. We should probably have that conversation at some point. I mean, he’s an adult, and he can make his own breakfast, of course, but I want to make things easy for everyone, especially me.

My breakfasts lately have been cold oatmeal with raisins, cranberry raisins, and dates. I prep them on Sunday night, measuring out a cup of oatmeal and then not so much measuring the dried fruit, and then again measuring a cup of vanilla unsweetened almond milk. I put five of them in the fridge, and then I can just easily grab one to take to work in the morning. This week, I remembered all five. Last week I think I forgot one or two. Or maybe didn’t make them until Monday night? I don’t remember well.

So I should find a Pop Tart alternative everyone will enjoy. Maybe waffles? My husband made and froze pancakes once, but I’m not sure if the kids ate them after. But then again, frozen pancakes are just as “time-consuming” for my daughter as toast would be, unless I made it for her, or woke her up earlier.

Thoughts to consider.


My lunch this last week has been slapping together a ham and cheese sandwich in the morning with mustard and mayonnaise. It’s been delicious, and it’s one of those things that’s hard to prep in advance. I could do it the night before, but my evenings are usually busy with other things.

The kids make their lunch for school each day, except Friday (except my daughter who still packs). It’s usually cinnamon applesauce, yogurt, pudding, an Uncrustables sandwich (PB&J prep would come in handy here), and a snack of some kind. This week the snack was just sandwich cookies that I had one of the kids help put in snack bags to make up for the fact that I wasn’t going to buy those lunch pack snacks this week. You know, the overpriced ones with dinky portions? Also, they take a water bottle.

We go through a lot of water bottles in my house. My son will refill his for the entire week, but my daughter doesn’t like the tap water. I need to get a filter (shit, for my Keurig) for the water pitcher we have sitting on the counter, and then maybe we could limit those to lunches. It’s not that water bottles are expensive, but I loathe putting all that plastic out there, even in recycling.

My husband will sometimes have a sandwich but has historically eaten out quite a bit. I’m not throwing shade – I’ve done that, too, but now it has to change. I’m guessing both of us can live on cold meat sandwiches for a couple of years. Maybe switch it up with PB&J here and there.


Ugh, this is the hard one. So my husband isn’t comfortable cooking. He’s got a few things he can do well, and he’s slowly branching out, and he’s doing a great job. Whereas I merely don’t like it. I can do it, but I don’t like it. We have (again, historically) eaten a lot of heat-and-eat meals in our house: frozen pizza, pizza rolls, taquitos (the kids hate those right now), bagel bits (see a theme, here?), chicken patties, chicken tenderloin, chicken fingers, fish sticks (daughter won’t eat them – PB&J to the rescue), spaghetti, eggs, ham dinner (daughter hates the ham), and my famous Meat, Cheese, and Apples. Nobody likes casserole, only my husband and I like lasagna, and other things are hit-and-miss.

So dinners are hard.

I did take a survey in the family of who likes what, and the results were not encouraging. Now there is a line of thought that folks should eat what I make and like it, and I like that line of thought. I support it. But it’s hard when food is made and only one person will eat it. Repeat casserole sucks when it repeats for five days.

After further examination (and starting this post at 9 a.m. and finishing it up at 6:20 p.m.), I think I might go back to the stupid spreadsheet and the stupid chart, because dinners are stupid.

I’ll do better tomorrow.


5 thoughts on “Meal Planning

  1. So, I used to have that exact problem (and to be honest, I still do sometimes), but I found something that works for me most of the time. I have a marble notebook that I keep my shopping list in. The front is my list, the back is where I keep our menu. Each week I decide what will be for supper each night. I try to get at least one suggestion from each family member. Pizza Friday is a standard (and a cheese pizza – hot and fresh- from Weis is only $6 with their discount card). Once we had a few weeks in, I could begin to repeat meals. One day a week is typically left over day. It wasn’t a favorite at first but they have accepted it. I also try to google easy recipes every so often and try something new every few weeks. It has really helped me. We could even swap our favorite meals and maybe get some fresh ideas :). Good luck!!

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  2. I keep a Trello board with recipes in it so that if I’m at the store, and decided hey, I need to make something, I can look up the ingredients there. BUT, I like cooking and I’m only cooking for one. (though some of the recipes makes food for weeks it seems.) Along with things I haven’t tried yet but maybe probably want to.

    The week’s dinners are usually made on Sunday, put into Tupperware immediately so that I can grab it from the fridge in the morning.

    I aim for something new each week, though with the Trello, I have plenty of fall backs for things I know I like. Or fail meal planning that week.

    Lunches tend to be sandwiches, sometimes the filler is prepped in advance (chicken salad, chickpea mash, etc) and made the night before. Chips and cookies in a baggie and when I think of it, some kind of fruit or veggie with humus.

    Breakfasts rotate between bagels, sausage (cooked in advance, microwaved the day of), hashbrowns in the toaster, or cereal. And fruit.

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