By Molly Patrick
May 1, 2021,
Eliminating dinner stress is totally doable, but for many, answering the daily question: What am I making for dinner? turns us into a hot ball of stress—sweaty palms and body odor included.
When the clock strikes 3pm, we start making a mental list and asking ourselves many questions:
- What ingredients do I have in my kitchen?
- What have I already had for dinner this week?
- How can I best use the kale and tofu sitting in the fridge, about to go bad?
- How many people am I cooking for?
- What do those people like and dislike?
- How many veggies can I sneak into this mystery meal that I will magically create between now and when me and my people are hungry?
- How will I fit in a trip to the grocery store?
- What cuisine am I in the mood for?
- What recipe am I going to follow?
- How do I know if this recipe will be delicious?
The mental list gets so long that you say screw it, throw your hands up in overwhelm, and decide to grab take-out on the way home. After everyone is fed, you’re happy that another dinner has been handled, but disappointment sets in for spending money on dinner that wasn’t even healthy instead of using the healthy ingredients already sitting in your fridge.
As the kale and tofu look up at you from the shelf, you recommit to cooking healthy food for dinner next week. But then next week arrives, and you find yourself asking the same questions and making the same mental lists, turning into the same hot ball of stressy body odor at 3pm each day.
Are you ready to break this cycle?
No more mental lists. No more wondering what’s for dinner. No more smelly armpits when trying to plan your nightly food. No more wasted produce. No more good intentions without action. No more hoping your family will like it. Just easy, delicious, varied plant based meals that you and your family will love.
The only thing that’s holding you back is a solid plan. That’s it. You are so close to having ZERO dinner stress. When you have a plan and you set some time aside to batch cook each week, your dinner stress magically disappears, like turning off a light switch.
That’s why we offer weekly whole food plant based Meal Plans.
We’ve created an entire business around this because it helps people so much. Not only do our Meal Plans subscribers leave the planning to us, they also leave it to us to create their grocery list, and create the most delicious whole food plant based recipes out there. They get access to a new Gourmet Meal Plan and a new Simple Meal Plan each week, and they also have access to our Meal Plan catalogue of 160+ Meal Plans and counting. They never have to think about what’s for dinner again, they just follow along and eat.
You can Sign up for our free Trial Meal Plan to see just how awesome our system is, and how it can transform your life.
If you don’t want to join our Meal Plans, or you’re not yet ready, no worries, I’m going to teach you how to make your own meal plan so you can eliminate dinner stress.
Write down each day of the week (I suggest Monday through Friday) and what you and your family will eat for dinner each night. Take your time and really plan this out.
Make it varied so you’re not eating the same thing over and over again. Make it interesting so you’re not bored with your food. Choose things that will make good leftovers so you can have some for lunches. Make it healthy, and be sure to add in lots of veggies.
You can put recipes together on your own, you can use recipes from cookbooks, or gather recipes from blogs. If it’s plant based recipes you’re looking for, our free blog is loaded with yummy whole food plant based recipes (we introduce brand new recipes each week in our Meal Plans that you won’t find on our blog).
Monday: Curry Tofu with Farro and Broccoli
Tuesday: Speedy Plant-Based Chili
Wednesday: Plant Based Pizza Burgers
Thursday: Black Lentil Curry over Farro
Friday: Pasta with Alfredo Sauce, Broccoli & Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Decide which of those meals (or parts of those meals) can be made in advance and make a list of those items. Then set aside a couple hours on the weekend to cook those items (this is called “batch cooking” or “batching”). Investing time to make the various items in advance will make it super easy for you to throw dinner together during the week since most of the components are already made.
Example of items to batch cook:
Curry Tofu (used on Monday)
Farro (used on Monday & Thursday) – plan to make enough servings of farro for both nights it appears on the menu
Speedy Plant-Based Chili (used on Tuesday)
Burgers (used on Wednesday)
Mozzarella-style Sauce (used on Wednesday)
Pizza Sauce (used on Wednesday)
Black Lentil Curry (used on Thursday)
Alfredo Sauce (used on Friday)
Make a grocery list of everything you need for the recipes you are going to batch cook and the nightly meals. It helps if you organize your list by store category (produce, bulk, packaged, etc.) so you’re not bouncing around the grocery store like a pinball. This will help you get in and out of the grocery store fast. Our Meal Plans come with a Grocery List that you can access on your phone based on how many portions of each meal you want, and as a bonus, the ingredients are organized by grocery section.
Once you have your list, go to the grocery store and do your shopping.
The next day, get in your kitchen and make all the items on your batching list. Spending 1 ½–4 hours cooking one day a week will save you at least that amount of time in the kitchen later in the week. It also saves hours of worrying and wondering what you’re going to make for dinner. The time you dedicate to batch cooking each week is one of the best ways to manage your time and to make sure you eat healthy throughout the week. Time is one of your biggest assets, and batch cooking is using that asset beautifully.
After cooking all your food, transfer it to containers, label it (I use masking tape and a Sharpie), and store it in the fridge.
Follow the plan that you made for yourself each evening for dinner. You will have some of the recipes already cooked thanks to your batch cooking day. You will have all the ingredients you need thanks to your thorough list and trip to the grocery store. All you have to do is heat up your food, throw the meals together, and eat.
Try this out and see what you think. If you love the idea of meal planning, but don’t want to plan it yourself, sign up for our Meal Plans and we will do all the planning for you; it’s what we do best.
Having a plan and following through eliminates dinner stress from your life. When you know there is yummy, healthy food waiting for you at home, there is no reason to stress about dinner. And once you stop stressing about dinner, you will have more space for other areas of your life.
What would you do if you never had to worry about dinner? Would you have time for a yoga class? Would you spend more time with your family? Would you lay down, put up your feet, and read that book you’ve been wanting to read? Would you organize that closet that’s driving you crazy? Would you go for a walk? Would you get out your paints? Would you call a friend or write a letter? Would you apply for that new job or sign up for that writing class?
Life is so full and so rich, and when you eliminate stress from your life where you can, you are able to show up in a whole new way. Once you have dinner stress handled, you can then look at other areas of your life and see what’s possible! Start with dinner and go from there.
- 3 large tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ cup red onion, diced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, chopped (remove the seeds for less spicy)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
- Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and stir.
- Serve with your favorite chips (see recipe below) or as a condiment to elevate your main dish.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with an awesome plan.