I don’t like to cook, and it doesn’t come naturally to me. When I had kids, I felt so much pressure to make everything from scratch - and to enjoy doing it. But I just don’t like cooking, so I felt like a failure and a bad mom for such a long time. I want my kids to eat well and develop healthy habits, but there are so many other things I’d rather do than spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
Then I finally figured out a different way to meal plan. It doesn’t involve meal subscription kits, e-mails with recipes and shopping lists, or grocery delivery services. It doesn’t follow the traditional meal planning advice I read in blog posts and articles.
Once I realized a few crucial things, they changed my perspective on meal planning and allowed me to create a system that actually works. Below are three things that I wish moms knew about meal planning.
1. You don’t have to do it all yourself.
Many of us long to be Supermom, the mother who can do it all, all by herself. But she’s a unicorn, and you and I are humans. Please, please, please ask for help! Any little bit makes a difference, even if you just ask a friend to watch your kids while you go to the grocery store. One of my top meal planning tips is this: Plan dinner almost exclusively from simple recipes and you can ask others (like your husband or older kids) to cook, too! If I can’t make dinner one evening, I give my husband one of the planned recipes for the week and tell him to follow the directions. :-)
2. You don’t have to be a good cook.
I’d like to introduce you to my dear friends, the slow cooker and the Instant Pot. Kind and forgiving, they are true blue to the end. Seriously, though, you don’t need to master a bunch of cooking methods to put delicious food on the table. My kids even eat peas straight from the freezer! I stress the importance of using recipes because you don’t have to be a good cook or be creative in the kitchen. Someone’s already done it for you.
3. You don’t need a fully stocked kitchen.
You don’t need to buy in bulk, make 50 freezer meals, or order half a cow and freeze the meat. You don’t need to stock up on rice, beans, or all the oils, vinegars and spices. You don’t need to keep inventory of the foods in your pantry and freezer because let’s face it, you have enough to keep track of already. Here’s what you need to do: You only need to buy what you need for the week. Do you save money when you buy in bulk? Absolutely, but only if you actually use what you buy.