Good Enough Can Be Good Enough
Menu planning, by it’s very nature, formalizes the meal planning process. Rather than meals being thrown together last minute in a haphazard way, they are pondered, compared to each other, chosen, and written down days in advance. Because you have to go through this process for each meal, it is easy to assume that the meal, in order to deserve that amount of thought and planning, must be a really good one. Without meal planning, hot dogs chosen last-minute because you didn’t know what else to make for dinner might seem perfectly acceptable to you, but when you’re doing that fancy thing called meal planning, suddenly hot dogs might seem undeserving- shouldn’t you be making Polish sausage paninis from Martha Stewart magazine? Should you be trying that new recipe for roast chicken with Dijon mustard sauce?
Well, my answer is, “No!” Stick with the same food you usually cook. Let go of the urge to make your planned meals fancier, or more sophisticated, or more inventive than they need to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for trying new recipes, and I love making gourmet food. But realistically, how many of us have the time and energy to be making fancy new dishes every week? If you’re trying to make your meal plan too good, you might end up getting frustrated that you can’t live up to your high expectations, and give up the meal planning process altogether. And that would be a shame, because the benefits to meal planning are huge (so huge, in fact, let’s review them for a sec):
Benefits of Meal Planning
- Less late afternoon stress because you’ll know in advance what’s for dinner
- Save time because you’ll only need to take one trip to the grocery store at the beginning of the week, instead of heading to the store mid-week for last minute ingredient runs.
- Save money because you’ll have a meal planned for each breakfast, lunch and dinner, which means you won’t need to do any last minute restaurant/take-out food (unless you want to and you can actually afford it)
- Save money because you can see what’s on sale at the grocery store and plan your meals around that
Try to make this meal planning process easy on yourself, so that you stick with in. Resist the temptation to make your meal plan perfect. Don’t worry about whether you’ve planned a different breakfast each morning, whether your lunches are scrumptious versus just good, and whether your dinner choices are good enough to be featured in a magazine. In fact, as long as you’re serving well-rounded meals (check out the U.S.D.A.’s MyPlate feature, which illustrates the elements of a healthy meal) go ahead and plan some very easy, very simple dinners, just to cut yourself some slack. For instance, one of my easiest dinners is fish sticks, because you just have to preheat the oven and throw them in. That’s why I serve them every other week- they’re easy, simple, and yummy, too. They’re not gourmet, not scrumptious, not fancy, but they’re good enough.
Weekly Meal Plan for the Week of October 8th
Monday: Fish sticks (from Costco), butternut squash, and a green salad.
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday! I’ll fill white corn tortillas with seasoned ground turkey, refried beans, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, and cilantro.
Wednesday: Spaghetti squash, with pasta sauce and Italian sausage. Served with a green salad and pickled beets on the side.
Thursday: Burritos, using the same filling as Taco Tuesday.
Friday: Pizza Night, with salad on the side. Made with this easy homemade dough recipe.
Saturday: Burger Night. I try to keep the freezer stocked with various patties: beef, chicken, veggie, salmon. This week I’ll probably use the beef patties, and serve the burgers with roasted acorn squash and a green salad.
Sunday: International Night. I’ll make Chicken Mole again, from the Joy of Cooking recipe, and serve it with white rice and leftover acorn squash from Saturday.
- Pumpkin Flax Granola with yogurt or milk
- Apple Cinnamon Chex with milk
- Sunday only: Homemade cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs
We eat fruit with every breakfast- this week honeydew melon and navel oranges
- Homemade frozen burritos
- Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches
- Cheese sandwiches
We also eat fruit with every lunch- the same fruit options as for breakfast, plus celery sticks
What’s YOUR menu plan this week?