Menu Planning Does Not Always Go As Planned

In our house, menu planning is the difference between chaos and harmony. The busy work week makes it essential for me to plan meals out ahead of time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  This makes it so that my family is not walking around aimlessly trying to figure out what they should eat.  As much as I strive to be the menu planning queen, occasionally, I get knocked off my throne.

Within the last several months I have become better at preventing menu planning disturbances.  I try not to get too frustrated when my best efforts fall flat.  Below is my ever-growing list of fumbles that cause my menu planning to not always go as planned.

Underestimating the amount of leftovers – Our dinners are regularly made ahead of time and then frozen for eating later.  For this reason, once we are finished eating, we typically cannot re-freeze a meal. Because I will not throw out perfectly good food, when there are leftovers I either pack them for lunch or have again for dinner the next day.  This will disrupt what is already planned for lunch or dinner the next day.

Somebody always forgets their lunch – I try very hard to purchase only what groceries we need.  In doing this, I also have to take into account the potential for using leftovers for lunches.  If one of us, (or sometimes both) forgets our lunch not only do we now have to spend money to get food, but most likely that food is going to be unhealthy.  On the brighter side, it saves me from having to make that lunch the next morning because there’s the forgotten lunch still in the fridge.


Not in the mood to eat what is on the menu – The menu says chili. I take the chili out of the freezer, it defrosts and it’s ready to make when we get home.  Do I scratch the whole menu plan because I don’t feel like eating chili that night?  That depends on the intensity of my mood and if I can easily switch around meals in the plan. If there is no flexibility, then more than likely, I will eat what is out for that night.  However, I won’t lie, I have been known to scratch it all and order a pizza.  I know that’s bad but hey, I’m human too.  Fortunately, since I’ve taken responsibility for my eating, those moments are becoming fewer and farther between.

Kids won’t eat it – On a scale of 1 to 10 of picky eaters I would say my kids are a 5.  They’ve gotten better than they used to be but they are still not quite where I would like them to be.  What is frustrating is that one day my kids will be all about eating one specific dish and then the next week, they hate it!  This is an ongoing challenge in our household that we are still trying to master.  Once I figure out some strategies that work I will let you know.  If you have any tips or strategies on how to get picky eaters to eat healthy foods, I would love to hear about them.  Leave your tips and ideas in the comments.  I’m sure we all need help with this one.

Life happens – Regardless of the circumstances, sometimes eating what is planned just doesn’t work out.  I’m sure we all can fill in the blank with a million different situations that get in the way of our perfectly planned menu. The key to staying on track is to make sure that we can tell the difference between legitimate circumstances that prevent us from eating from our menu plan and the excuses that are sabotaging our own best efforts.

After the many experiences and lessons learned, I now create a menu plan that offers flexibility because, as we all know, life does not always go as planned.




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  1. Amen! We have all of these things happen on a regular basis. The one thing meal planning does for me is that it takes the crisis out of it. It’s not such a big deal if a practice runs late or we’re not in the mood for spaghetti when the rest of the week has been organized.

    • Skinny Mom says:

      Totally agree with this –> “The one thing meal planning does for me is that it takes the crisis out of it.” Just having a plan makes all the difference. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog.

  2. I am a gourmet cook who used to have 2 picky eaters, so here is what I did:
    We had homemade wholemeal pizza, with healthy toppings often (I consider this healthy food)
    We had stir fry often with lots of different veggies cut in very small pieces. Children were allowed to leave out two veggies they didn’t like. For example: if they didn’t like carrots and celery, they could remove all the carrots and celery but they had to eat every thing else. Giving them a choice and challenging them to make a decision about their own food made eating the rest of the dish enjoyable.
    When we had fish, even if it was filleted they’d complain about bones. Solution? I gave them 5 cents per bone they found. Then they were so interested in finding the bones, that eating the fish was not an issue.
    Both boys are grown now and eat everything. The older one was here with the grandchildren one day for a meal. His eyes twinkled when I served the fish and he asked “5 cents a bone?” . I think this stayed with him because it was so successful at the time.


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