Do you find meal planning too good to be true? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums
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#31 of 41 Old 10-01-2010, 10:13 PM
 
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You know, if I were you, I would start with three days a week. And tell my DH that with some of the money we saved over eating out, we'd do some special project or activity we've both been wanting to do.

And we have a rule about comments regarding dinner. The same rule my mom had when I was growing up. You can tell the cook you like the food (or some variation of a compliment) or you can say, "Thanks for making dinner."

End. of. story.

(My kids are the same ages yours are, and while my 3-year-old is still getting this, my kindergartner understands it. My DH totally supports it and would NEVER make a less-than-flattering/appreciative comment about food I've cooked).
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#32 of 41 Old 10-01-2010, 11:31 PM
 
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Does your husband contribute to the meal planning? I mean, does he get a say in what you make?

Because here's my take: this isn't a meal planning problem. This is a marriage problem. If you really cannot afford your current approach, and if you have agreed on that as a couple, and he won't follow through, then you have a problem.

I ran this past my husband, and his suggestion was--if you've already discussed this and said, "We need a budget and a plan," but he won't follow it when you do that--maybe it needs to be his job for a while. Give him the cash for the week, according to the budget, and tell him to figure it out for a week. He can hardly complain that he doesn't like what you're cooking if he's made the decision about what it will be. If it's Thursday and you're down to eating oatmeal three times a day because the budget's blown, so be it. It is fundamentally disrespectful to you to disregard your hard work and your family's financial needs in favor of going out to dinner.

That presumes, of course, that you and he are on the same page about needing a meal plan in the first place. If you're imposing your own desire to plan on him without his agreement, I can see why this is creating conflict. What does he say about meal planning, in concept? Is he for it, except when it comes time to eat?
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#33 of 41 Old 10-02-2010, 12:26 PM
 
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Meal planning only started helping me after I stopped being a perfectionist about it (i.e., plan 3 meals a day plus after-school snack, every meal balanced and picturesque)

I took the advice of someone in this forum who talked about planning what you really eat. So I'll write down broth with noodles, which is actually what my kids end out eating 1x/wk. Just put down the simplest thing, then follow through and cook it. Don't be embarrassed if your meal plan has just the most basic food: baked potatoes one night, scrambled eggs in tortillas another. If you are having trouble meal planning the only way to get past it is to be very simple

Later, after you are saving time and money by knowing in advance what dinner will be, you can use that "time savings" to round everything out and add in side dishes that go with the main thing you are making.
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#34 of 41 Old 10-02-2010, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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academama - He does help make the meal plan and has gone shopping for it all by himself on occasion. He also really likes what I make and gets many compliments from his co-worker when he has it for dinner the following day. I'm afraid mostly it's just the kids who are usually less than thrilled. The problem is when it's just me and the kids for dinner which, depending upon the week, can be every single day. I try to remember that they're just kids...but it's tough when you've worked hard (managing the baby at the same time) and they don't like it.

Typically when we do eat out it's because dh thinks he's helping. He works a lot so he's pretty tired when not working due to a lack of sleep and I'm weary from taking care of everything else. It's his way of trying to help lighten the load (even though in the end it doesn't).
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#35 of 41 Old 10-02-2010, 08:10 PM
 
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Ah, I follow. Have you pointed out to him that it doesn't really make things easier for you?

As for the kids, well--barring any sort of major issue that would make it impossible for them to eat what you have prepared, and assuming that you've tried to make things they will eat...I'd say, tough. If I'm making something I'm not sure my kids will like, I add in a side dish that I know they like. That way they eat something.

My kids' pediatrician once said something wise: "You decide what they can eat, by deciding what's available. They decide how much they eat and even whether they eat." I would just say, "here's our food. Take it or leave it." I know it's hard when you cook something and plan it and care about it and they won't eat it, but if you can, try to remind yourself that they are learning about manners and about culture and about going with the flow every time you eat dinner. I agree with a previous poster about teaching them how to respond to a food they don't want to eat: if someone cooks for you, you can praise the food, or you can thank them for making it. You do not have to eat it (in my house anyway--I know some parents disagree), but you cannot say it's gross or yucky or anything like that. Respect for the cook is important and they can learn that by doing it, just like saying "please."
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#36 of 41 Old 10-02-2010, 09:43 PM
 
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We have a rule about commenting on dinner too. They don't have to like it, they don't have to eat it past their 2 tasting bites. But they cannot tell me it's gross, ew or some variation of that. Course we've had to expand that a bit since my 4 year old tried "I'm so not eating that, no way!" the other day.

But yeah, this rule has helped me alot. Along with giving my kids a night to plan and have what they want.
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#37 of 41 Old 10-05-2010, 01:04 PM
 
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I used Relishrelish for a long time and it worked for us but I did need to force myself to select the meals on a Friday and shop for the week on a Sunday. Now I do themes, chicken on Monday, pasta on Tuesday, etc.

And like others have said, I don't allow any negativity. This was a biggie for me. I used to basically badger DH into telling me what he wanted to eat. Now, I ask him once at the beginning of the cycle "hungry for anything in particular?" 9x out of 10, he says no. It never crossed DS mind to think he could somehow influence what is served. He is 5 yo so I may have challenges ahead. When he does voice an opinion, I just direct him towards the stuff on the table he does like and leave it at that.

I completely understand the thinking that going out as a "helping" thing. My DH tries that all the time. Now, like someone mentioned, I always keep a couple boxes of pasta, jars of sauce and ground beef on hand. Frozen peppers and onions (and many other veggies) can dress up the sauce.

I need to worry about breakfast and lunch only on the weekends. The same things are available for breakfast all the time. I will sometimes put effort into lunch but if I don't, I have backups like soups and sandwich fixings or pizza in the freezer.

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#38 of 41 Old 10-19-2010, 02:17 PM
 
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I have realized that there are days of the week that I will be more exhausted (mondays I do laundry all day AND clean the rest of the house deep cleaning wise) so I won't want to make some elaborate meal. Those days I often toss something in the crockpot (have you seen the cookbook called, "Not your mother's slow cooker cookbook"?) or plan for my standby sweet potato/black bean quesadillas. There are many great cookbooks you can borrow from the library that have meals which can be made quickly with a minimum of effort. I have a variety of that kind of book on my shelf, from Rachel Ray (meh...not my favorite, but some good stuff) to One Pot Meals, to Cook's Illustrated 30 Minute Meals, to Meals in Half the Time... even if I don't cook every meal from them, it means that I have some decent ideas of what to make.

I say all that because when "I" waffle from the meal plan, it's typically cause I'm tired, don't have help, and don't FEEL LIKE COOKING.

We had a million and half diet restrictions, which pretty much also meant that we couldnt go out and eat, but made it such a pain in the rear to cook that I wanted to cry some nights.

I agree that perhaps you should make your big meal for when you have an extra set of hands in the house. That always makes cooking easier!

The meal plan isn't supposed to stress you out, it's supposed to make life easier. SOoooo, don't waffle. If hubby says, "What's for dinner?" Say, "What's the date? It's on the calender on the fridge. That's what's for dinner. You can help by chopping the carrots." And put in ear plugs and make dinner. If they don't want to eat what you've made they can make PB&J or wait till breakfast. Life is hard that way. I'm not a very sensitive person when it comes to that. I am making an effort...if you can't make the same effort to make living life affordable and don't want what I'm making, then have nothing or have PB&J. He's a grown up...he'll get over it, or start to appreciate what you're making!

Mama to two awesome kids. Wife to a wonderful, attached, loving husband. I love my job-- I'm a Midwife, Doula and Childbirth Educator, Classes forming now!

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#39 of 41 Old 10-19-2010, 04:06 PM
 
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I think that if the problem is that your kids not wanting what is on the menu, then make them part of the planning process. Either give them each a night to plan as others have suggested, or make sure that you are selecting foods that they will eat. When I plan something DS won't eat (I can't always make toddler friendly foods, it bores me as a cook and then I don't want to make dinner), I make sure to have PBJ available. If after he tastes dinner and doesn't want it he can have a sandwich or go hungry.

Another suggestion may be to plan out 8 dinners on your weekly menu. Make one of the meals something you know everyone will want to eat (maybe pizza) and set that aside for the last night of the week. Each day rotate between the kids who are old enough to have a vote and give the person whose night it is two of the options for dinner. Only give them options you are willing to cook and have planned into the week. At the end of the week, the meal that doesn't get chosen gets pushed into next weeks plan since you theoretically should have everything you need for it.

Or if that is too complicated (it sounded a lot simpler in my head!) Give them choices about parts of the dinner, spaghetti or penne, baked potatoes or mashed potatoes, green beans or green peas.

Above all, stick to your guns. If they sense that you are floundering then they will push until you give in.

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#40 of 41 Old 10-22-2010, 04:43 PM
 
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Meal planning keeps me sane!! I don't plan in the sense that I know what we are having ever night but I plan for 2 weeks and go from there. Does that make sense? I come up with 14 dinners...and always make sure I have some quick/easy ones in there...then I shop for those things needed. Then nightly I can look on my list of dinner options and chose what we are having.
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#41 of 41 Old 11-02-2010, 05:24 PM
 
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I write a list of 7-14 dinners.
I do not assign a specific day to a meal unless there is a holiday.
I ask dh and dd for input when I make the list. I look at what we have on hand.
I don't try more than 1 new recipe a week because dd is not big on trying new foods. Most of what I make is stuff I know she will eat at least part of the meal. If dd does not want to eat any of what I made then she can have a sandwich or cereal.

I plan to have leftovers. This week I cooked roast beef in the slow cooker, rice and green beans. We are having the leftover rice today- dh took some in his lunch. I had the leftover green beans with my lunch. The cut up meat went in the freezer. Later this week or next the leftover meat will be put in soup.

When dh is not going to be here for meals I feed dd one of the foods she likes. It isn't exciting but I'm not interested in a struggle when I am hungry too.

I don't write out plans for lunches, snacks or breakfasts. I make sure we have items on hand for those but they are usually the same low prep items all the time. Lunch will be sandwiches or leftovers so I make sure we have bread and sandwich stuff on hand. Breakfast will be oatmeal, cereal, sandwich or leftovers. Snacks will be fruit or something easy like that. So I only seriously cook once a day.

I pick something from the meal list to make every day- usually the night before or early in the day so someone can give their opinion in advance. Getting food from restaurants often is just not an option for health and financial reasons. Our food budget does not change. If we choose to eat out the money comes from there. Usually we plan the times we will eat out- once or twice a month.

Meal planning makes my life easier and helps us stay within our budget. I think you just have to have your dh on the same page about eating at home and be firm.

Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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