9. Your Family Members are Picky Eaters

My family rarely want to stick with the plan I use.
— You

Coming up with meals that that your whole family like can feel impossible at times. If your kids are fussy when to comes to food, then it can be a real struggle to get your family to stick to the meal plan you have created.

The KEY to successful meal planning when your family members are picky eaters, is to get them involved! If you give your kids a choice in what’s on the weekly menu then you will find they will be much more open to it throughout the week.  


Here are the 3 ways to create a simple weekly meal plan when your family members are picky eaters

One

Start by getting your family together and making a list of each of your favourite meals that are quick and easy to make - it is a good idea to stick it on the fridge then you can always add to it.

Two

Then, use meals from this to create your first meal plan. Encourage your kids to choose one meal each for the plan.

Three

Then, get your kids involved in helping make the meal they have chosen. They will usually be much more inclined to eat the food when they have been part of the creative process and you will be teaching them life skills along the way as well as enjoying quality time with them. It’s a win-win all round, really.


8. The Shopping List is Overly Expensive or Unrealistic

Poor college student… costs quickly add up.
— You

If you are on a tight budget, or you don’t feel you know how to plan without buying a ton, you can easily become disheartened with the idea of meal planning when your food shopping bill shoots up. I mean, one of the biggest sellers around it, is supposedly the fact it saves you money!

It’s not a lie. When done successfully, meal planning can save so much money in the long run. With a bit of organisation, you can easily cut your costs down.


Here are the 3 ways to create a simple weekly meal plan without an overly expensive shopping list

One

Begin by making a list of all the food you already have available in your house, in your cupboards, fridge and freezer. See if you can make any meals from this.

Two

Then, check what food is in season in your area. Plan the rest of your meals around these ingredients as they will tend to be cheaper.

Three

Finally, try and top up with at least one cupboard essential (non-perishable items that you can make quick meals with) each time you do a food shop. When you can, try to buy the biggest amount possible, as this generally works out cheaper per kilogram. For example, a 500g bag of pasta costing 55p would be £1.10/kg, but a 3kg bag of pasta costing £2.87 would be £0.96/kg, which is a saving in the long run. If you can keep this up regularly you will always have a “free” meal to fall back on when times are tough.


7. It Feels Impossible to Find Help for a 7-Day Plan

I am left on my own for half the week.
— You

Many ready made meal plans allow for flexibility in their approach which is great for many, but if you are a complete beginner this approach can quickly leave you feeling like you are alone, and not covered for every day of the week.


Here are the 3 ways to create a simple weekly meal plan when it feels impossible to find help for a 7-day plan

One

The KEY to successful meal planning when you find it impossible to find help for a 7 day plan is to speak up, and ask. Remember, you are not alone and a lot of people out there would love to help you. Try searching ‘meal planning groups’ on Facebook and ask for support from like minded people in the groups.

Two

You could also look for services that offer set weekly meal plans. Googling 'weekly meal plan blogs' is a great place to start. If you find one that you like the look of that doesn't account for all seven days, ask for help for additional ideas from the relevant blogger, or in the Facebook groups mentioned above. I’m pretty sure most would be more than willing to help you.

Three

Finally, as you create new meals, keep a record of all the ones you enjoyed. Keep adding to it and eventually, you will have a huge catalogue of your favourite meals, which you will then be able to pull up 7 for a week's meal plan when needed (or a few extras to complete a ready-made meal plan).


6. It Is Too Much Too Fast - Overwhelming

It feels intimidating to move out of my comfort zone.
— You

With so many meal plans out there, it can be difficult to choose the right one for you. If you feel like you don’t know a lot about cooking it may even feel intimidating to move out of your comfort zone.

The KEY to successful meal planning when you feel overwhelmed is to start small. Just like a baby has to learn to crawl before it can walk, you need to learn to meal plan for one day, before you can plan for a week.


Here are the 3 ways to create a simple weekly meal plan without it feeling overwhelming

One

Don’t try to do it all at once. Build your confidence up by only planning a few simple meals a week at the beginning (eat what you usually would on the other days - no guilt!). A pre-planned meal planning service may the best option for you to begin with, as the planning will be done for you and you will generally have access to a strong community of like-minded people, and support if you face any difficulties. There are both free and paid versions available out there to help.

Two

Then, when choosing your few meals to plan, keep it simple. Stick with ingredients that you know you like. Stick with cooking styles that you have done before. Keep it familiar.

Three

Finally, don’t be afraid to change the recipes to suit your taste. For example, if a recipe calls for two veggies that you don’t like, or don’t have in, don’t feel like you can’t adjust it. Just switch them up - you may even find a new favourite. As your confidence grows, you can gradually increase your meal planning to suit your needs.


5. You Lack Motivation At The End Of Long Days

Single mum, active toddler, baby in the mix… my energy to cook is an hilarious pipe dream.
— You

It can be all too easy to fall into a slump at the end of a long day when you are lacking the energy to cook the meal you had planned for the night. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are not a failure. You are a hardworking, determined person and you need to be kind to yourself. Make meal planning work for you, not the other way round.


Here are the 3 ways to create a simple weekly meal plan when you lack motivation at the end of long days

One

The KEY to successful meal planning when you are lacking motivation at the end of long days is to give yourself nights off. Sounds too good to be true, right? But it is not. First, start by writing a list of your schedule, to see where you have the most spare time.

Two

On the days that you have more time than others, bulk cooking is your friend. Opt for freezer friendly meals, and make as much as you can of the one meal you are planning on eating on that night. Freeze the rest in single portion sizes. Then, when you are lacking the energy after a long day, or you are simply struggling to get back into cooking after a takeaway or dinner out, you can simply reheat your dinner in a few minutes with minimal effort required.

Three

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do you have a friend or a family member that loves cooking? You could ask them to prepare some meals ahead for you in exchange for some of the bulk cooking you have already made? That way, you both cook once, but both end up with two different meals.


4. You Find It Too Labour Intensive

I loathe preparing vegetables… and loathe doing the dishes even more.
— You

For you, mealtimes should be quick and easy, not a marathon. Some people love to cook and that is fair enough, but when you just need dinner on the table with minimal effort you probably struggle to commit to meal planning. The great news is, it doesn’t have to be so labour intensive.

The KEY to successful meal planning, without it feeling too labour intensive, is to simply be honest with yourself about how much work you are willing to do (or not do), and then plan your meals around that. There is no right or wrong way to meal plan. Just YOUR way.


Here are the 3 ways to create a simple weekly meal plan without it feeling too labour intensive

One

Once a month cooking is not your thing. That’s intense. And that’s okay. Start by making a list of things you don’t mind doing, for example, putting everything in one pot and letting the oven do the work for you.

Two

Then, google recipes that are cooked using that method. Choose one or two to try in your next meal plan. Fill in the gaps with old favourites that you have cooked before.

Three

Finally, each time you create a simple meal plan that you have loved, make sure to keep a copy of it somewhere where you can access it again in the future. Then, when you don’t feel like thinking of meals one week, you can simply pull out one of your own tried and tested simple meal plans, with zero effort in the planning process.


3. You Don't Feel Organised Enough

Life happens...
— You

You may only have small storage space available or kids that eat the food you have planned a meal for. You may be terrible at using all of the ingredients up, or stuff might just come up meaning you don’t cook what you planned that night. Simply put, the organisation is a struggle for you.

The KEY to successful meal planning when you don’t feel organised enough is to start with just one thing at a time, to prevent feeling overwhelmed, or wasting food and money. The idea is to learn to become more organised, by just changing one cooking habit at a time, which will eventually become second nature.


Here are the 3 ways to create a simple weekly meal plan when you don't feel organised enough

One

Begin by making a list of all the food you already have available in your house, in your cupboards, fridge and freezer. See if you can make any meals from this.

Two

Then put a list together of your favourite meals that don’t require much prep. It could be a jarred sauce with pasta, or steamed fish with new potatoes - basically, meals that you can grab the ingredients from the shop on the day and cook with little time when you get home.

Three

Finally, shorten your meal plan. Don’t try to plan for a full week to begin with, start with just two or three days. That will give you flexibility to use up the leftovers and you will be less challenging to use up perishables before they go bad!


2. You Get Bored Easily

I just don’t feel like that tonight.
— You

Life may be easier when meal planning, but it is no fun when you are recycling the same food over and over. Nothing makes you want to quit meal planning more than eating cottage pie for four nights in a row.

The KEY to successful meal planning when you get bored easily is to make sure you mix up your meals frequently. Sounds easy, right? But, you would be surprised how many of us stick to the same four or five meals, out of routine more than anything.


Here are the 3 ways to create a simple weekly meal plan when you get bored easily

One

To get out of your boring dinner time rut and make mealtimes more interesting, create a master list of all your favourite meals. Set a timer on your phone for 10 minutes and write down as many as you can. Then, stick it on your fridge and add to it whenever you think of, or discover a new favourite meal.
 

Two

Then, set yourself goals each week. It could be as simple as incorporating one new ingredient into one of your favourite meals. Or it could be as involved as a competition with the members of your family or friends, come dine with me style, by taking it in turns to cook a new dish and rate each other's food. Whatever suits your household best. But, the key is to mix it up and keep it fun and lighthearted.

Three

Finally, pick a few of your favourite meals from your list and create your first simple meal plan using these meals, and at least one new recipe using the goal you have set yourself.


1. You Have a Busy Schedule

Confused, how do I meal plan when I work full time?
— You

I hear you. In today’s busy world, prep time can be time consuming. Even the cooking itself can be. Or the clean up after. With a busy, or an ever changing schedule, finding the time for this can even feel impossible at times. And let’s be real, when you do miraculously find spare time, you would rather spend that with your family. Right?


Here are the 3 ways to create a simple weekly meal plan when you have a busy schedule

One

The KEY to successful meal planning when you have a busy schedule is always thinking two steps ahead. Yes, this will mean a little organisation, but it will save you so much stress and time in the long run. Start by writing a list of your family's schedule, to see where you have the most spare time. If it changes week by week, simply carve out 10 minutes every 7 days to plan for the week ahead.
 

Two

Next, write down a list of your family's favourite quick meals, that can be made from your cupboard essentials. Examples could be tuna pasta bake, chilli and rice… Aim to always keep the ingredients needed for these in for those time-strapped nights.

Three

On your days with the most time to spare, try to make meals that can be made in bulk and frozen (as this doesn't take much extra time). Freeze the extras in single portion containers, so that even when you and your family are on different schedules, you all get a decent meal! When you are comfortable doubling, move to tripling, and then even quadrupling if you feel up to the challenge. Eventually, you will have an amazing freezer selection of home cooked meals ready to grab and go. On your more busy nights, stick to quick ‘cupboard essential’ meals, or when you have a stock, your ready made freezer meals.