Planning Is The Key To Ending Stress In The Kitchen

I have been progressive in my efforts to create diverse healthy meals for my family. What I have found to be helpful is to plan. I tried getting out of it because it was painstakingly hard (not to do but wanting to do it). I realized there was no drama in the kitchen when everyone knew what was on the menu. I can plan how to shop for food based on the meals for the month. The greatest cost savings is making things from scratch and my bread maker. There is nothing that my family likes that I can’t make. Thank goodness the list isn’t too long. Because I have an interest in cooking, I try to make new things to add to our list of items to cook.


My bread maker is a godsend because I can make french bread, pizza dough, pita bread–the breads my family eats the most. I make sure that I always have my pantry filled with items we need for the food we eat most often.

The goal is to keep doing it and having fun doing it.  Here is what I do:

1.  I plan my meals using mealsmatter.org.  It is a non-commercial free site developed by the Dairy Council of California.  It has a plethora of information on nutrition, meal-planning and recipes.  I use the interactive tool on meal planning.  It features:

The Meal Planning Tools — Cookbook, Meal Planner, Meal Suggestions, Pantry, Recipes and Shopping List — provide a range of useful features to make planning healthy meals easier.
  • Meal Planner helps you to plan ahead for quick and healthy meals
  • Shopping list saves you time and helps limit impulse buys at the grocery store
  • Build your Pantry helps you build a well-stocked kitchen
  • Cookbook helps you organize your favorite family recipes.
  • Recipe database provides thousands of options for creative family meals.
  • Personalized Interactive Tools help you make healthy food and activity choices.

2.  I make sure that I have the next months’ daily menu inputted into the meal planner by the third week of the month. This prevents me from procrastinating from planning my meals.  I notice that I would find any reason to not plan my meals if I have a choice.  When given a deadline, I make it.  

The beautiful thing about the meal planner is that you can create a cookbook (you can add your on recipe to the database) or use the recipes of mealsmatter.org and add it to your menu.  Once added, you can create a shopping list based on the ingredients needed for the recipe.  It creates a shopping list.  You print it and go shopping for the entire month!!!!!  No brainer!

Initially,it takes time to create a month’s worth of menus (it took me about 2-3 hours).  Overtime, this will get better. I will probably use ideas from a previous month to include in my next month’s menu.  I have options.  When I am not planning meals, I find myself clipping recipes from articles or online to add to my mealsmatter.org’s cookbook.  I keep a copy of the recipe in my file at home so that when I am looking for a new recipe to add to my menu I will be reminded of it. 

I print out a week’s menu to review daily.  I found that it was as important for my kids to know what’s for dinner in advance as it was for me; they wanted to have some input on what I was creating.  When this is done, everyone is happy. 

All of this takes effort (something I never liked to do).  I wanted it to be miraculous.  I wanted the meal ideas to fall from the heavens and everyone would be happy with my choices.  With that mindset, I remained frustrated.  I hated to hear from my family, “what’s for dinner”.  It drove me crazy.  I hated to cook.  Now, meal planning stressless.  I find that I have more time to do other things besides trying to figure out “what’s for dinner”.

3.  The most important part of my plan is to cook my meals for the day in the morning.  During the school week, I’m only concerned about breakfast and dinner.  Breakfast during the week is usally cereal, oatmeal, toast, yogurt and fruit.  These are options that my family can get on their own.  Before everyone wakes up, I have started dinner.  I hate the idea of rushing.  I keep up my daughter from school during the middle of the day.  My son is home after school shortly after her.  Usually after school, there is either swimming (for her) or basketball (for him) and/or piano for one or the other on different days.  We have a policy in our family that food should be eaten within 1 1/2 of  a sports activity.  We want to make sure that (firstly) they have the energy to do the activity and (secondly) that their food is fully digested before doing the activity.  So, dinner is usually around 4:30 p.m.  Because, I have a life, I make sure that my whole day isn’t about making dinner.  That is why I cook early.  I have time for my activities.  Everyone is happy.

You may not want to cook in the “wee” hours of the morning as I do.  But, I would highly suggest that you find the right time for you to help create a stree-free cooking environment.  Enlist the help of your children if you have teenagers.  Planning may not be the “fun” part, nor is cooking for some of you.  The fun part comes when you notice that you are not stressing about cooking for your family.

Since everyone has to eat, take the stress out of it and make it fun for you.

One thought on “Planning Is The Key To Ending Stress In The Kitchen

  1. I love your blog. I am so happy that you found something that works for you. Maybe, this will happen to me. I do not feel the love in my cooking. I think mostly because I am tried after a long day of work. Kudos to you!

X