Don't Ask Me What's for Dinner! {How Making a Meal Plan Rescued More Than My Sanity}

FullSizeRender-3 Even typing the question "Whats for Dinner?" makes my blood pressure rise!

How do you answer that question when you don't have an answer? My comeback lines have been:


I have no clue.

Whatever you can find.

You are welcome to figure it out!


Complaining spirits are not welcome in our  home...however, my lack of desire to plan meals mixed with a bunch of hungry boys had the potential to cause a brawl.

I couldn't  handle it any longer y'all.

For years  (like 16 if I'm honest) I had no plan for what to feed my family and was slammed with that question multiple times a day.

The menu consisted of chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, the occasional corn dogs, pasta, grilled chicken and meatloaf. A tossed salad made it to the table maybe weekly!

People were fed, life kept moving,  and no long-term harm was done in my lack of planning or nutrition... but I was frustrated.

The money we were budgeting for food wasn't making meals and I knew I needed to step up my game.

I gave in and saw that the kitchen was becoming a place of refuge and relationships not just place of duty and a mess of dishes. Meal time was rescued.

It's never perfect every night, but we try to make the process of finding meals, making lists, and cooking them a joint effort.

Truth be told: If they don't help, we don't eat!

Some weeks, if they don't find the meals and make the lists, its back to corn dogs.

I most definitely under estimated the peace that came with looking forward to meal time versus stressing out over it!

The results have impacted my family yes, but being semi organized has brought some renewed fun back into my kitchen for me too.

When we operate under hurry and unorganized...our family feels it and we end up feeling discouraged.

So how do we plan it out?

Depending on the funds available for groceries... we plan out 2 weeks in advance.

  1. First step is the search. Cookbooks are dog eared and Pinterest is searched. New finds are pinned on our "Hungry Howells" board. We only try meals that look doable and don't put us in debt to prepare.

2. Next, I write out the meals on a 2 week calendar and then make the list of needed items.

My sister gave me a cookbook (The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner)  years ago and I just started using its planning system these past 2 years. It has master worksheets in the back that I copy and use to plan. Easy peasy and the recipes are not weird containing random ingredients you've never heard of. Love that.

3. One  of the older boys join me on a 2 hour shopping adventure to gather ingredients. I am investing in them and they are invested in the meals for the next 2 weeks. Whoever they marry... you're welcome!

Groceries are put away, hearts are anticipating the meals to come and Momma finally has an answer for all my hungry people!

4. The last order of business is writing out our menu on the kitchen chalkboard so everyone can see what on earth we are cooking for dinner. Nothing fancy or trendy about my long as they can read it!


Done for 2 weeks. Never perfect and most weeks the plan is rearranged or scratched in some way but its a place to start.

Amen to no one asking me what's for dinner!