Meal planning for the overwhelmed

meal planning tips

I was the overwhelmed. Technically, I’m still the overwhelmed, but I found after meal planning/prepping/doing for the past five weeks that it’s actually quite simple.

That’s what everyone says, right?

“it’s a breeze! just do this and that, and you’re all set!”

But, in reality, its far from simple, because that person who’s sayings it’s a no-brainer has been doing it for years. And the person who can’t get over the overwhelming feeling of where to start finds the “expert’s” advice far from helpful.

That, I think, is what makes meal planning so complicated. It has to be tailored to the individual doing it. Though there are thousands of methods, ideas, and plans to follow, (I really like Lindsay’s meal-prep posts), if they’re not foods you’d typically eat, you’ll fail every.single.time.

That’s how I felt.

I’ve wanted to do weekly meal plans since getting married, last year, and have attempted it several times. I even went so far as to interview a seasoned monthly meal planner for the Arizona Farm Bureau, just to get ideas for myself! Yet, despite that, I still couldn’t overcome the loss of where to begin, making each and every weekday and night miserable as I agonized over what to make.

Maybe you’ve gone through the same things?

So, after much stress – typically brought on by myself – I decided to take action! Here’s what I learned, plus how I overcame it all to “successfully” (I use that term loosely) meal plan.

The first week WILL BE STRESSFUL!

It didn’t matter that I had the entire week planned out from breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two daily snacks, including the grocery lists and recipes, I still felt way over my head. On Sunday, I cooked non-stop for six hours straight, running back and forth from stove, to fridge, to chopping, to washing the mounds of dishes. It felt endless and too much to ever want to do it again, but I was determined to prove myself. To whom? – No idea, but I was too deep in it to quit.

Come Monday, as I was sipping my morning coffee, the realization set in. I didn’t have to cook… for the whole week!! I practically did a dance right then and there. I didn’t have to think, stress, or worry over what to make for dinner. It was already sitting in the fridge ready to eat. I thought if all it took was six terribly stressful hours of cooking on Sunday, it was well worth it to have the whole week of freedom.

But here’s the thing.

The second week: NOT as stressful!

I will give this caveat: I followed a pre-set meal plan for three weeks in a row. Was it the exact same foods each week? – Yes. Did they lay out what to eat, cook, and provide the grocery list and recipes? – Yes! Is that considered “cheating” in the meal planning world? – Heck to the no, no!

I think for someone who IS overwhelmed, its the absolute perfect solution to overcome the stress of meal planning. Simply because it gives you a starting point. It did take me a long time to find the right pre-set meal plan, but after diligently searching, I found one that fit our lifestyle.

By the third week, I was on cruise control. What took six hours the first week, took less than three. Even my husband commented on how cool, calm, and collected I was while preparing everything. It wasn’t lost on me either. I was loving knowing it didn’t stress me out like before.

Though I don’t follow that specific meal plan any longer, I have used what I learned going forward with our weekly meals, and find it so much easier now. Life has gotten SO much easier now.

So, if you’re anything like me, someone who has always wanted to meal plan but couldn’t get past the crippling feelings of being overwhelmed, then here are some useful tips for you!

  • Find a pre-set meal plan. ie. Let someone else do the grunt work for you. (this may take a bit of time, but give yourself a solid hour to search through varying plans to find the right one)
  • Commit to at least two weeks of meals. I say this because that first week is rough, but I promise it gets 1,000x easier as the weeks go on.
  • Know the first week will be crazy and stressful, but press through! Chant “just keep swimming” if you need to make it through.
  • If doing it all on Sunday is too much, break it up into two days. Just make sure you have Monday’s and Tuesday’s meals ready.
  • Believe and know it WILL get easier! By the third week you will see it is considerably easier guaranteed!

If you’re a new or seasoned meal planner, let’s hear your methods!
How do you meal plan and what got you started wanting to meal plan?

The last time I…

On a walk near Schloss Solitude

Happiest of Mondays and a big thank you to all who commented on my last post about jeans!! Over the weekend, I went shopping and found two pair that worked for me (for now), and feel better knowing I have jeans again. One from Levi’s and the other from ESPRIT.

ESPRIT was big in the 90s in the states, and died off, but here in Germany, they’re a major major store with – actually – a lot of cute clothes! I’d put them on par with Express quality, but more mature, aka not geared toward the young teeny-bobber crowd.

So, it’s safe to say I was pretty surprised to find myself buying from both stores, but the girl at Levi’s was beyond helpful. Something that isn’t normal in Germany. Sales associates usually leave you alone, ie. completely ignore you, so for her to not only be willing to speak English, but also go out of her way, bringing me new items and giving her opinion, like an associate in the states would do, was pretty awesome.

And hard to pass up.

I saw “the last thing I…” on Callie’s blog, and thought it was too fun to pass up, so I’m jumping on the bandwagon. Feel free to jump on too. It’ll be a fun ride!

Last thing I ate: Technically…fried cheese bits that were left in the pan after I cooked eggs for tomorrow’s breakfast. Those really are the best things to munch on! Before that though, I ate the leftover gummy bears before grocery shopping. They always say, ‘never go to the store hungry’, right? This was just my way of preventing that. 😉

Ps.. gummies here are different than gummies in the states. Much yummier!

Last thing I drank: Water. Always water. Beyond my morning coffee, it’s nothing but water!

Last text I sent: I know you do! You’ve stuck with that terrible job for almost a year, so you MUST love it.” Me telling my friend how much she loves torturing herself… I’m clearly an encouragement to her. 😉

Last book I read: Does an ongoing read count? I’m slowly working my way through The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Sounds terribly amateur, and it is, but it’s also pretty funny. Before that, I read Little Women, and that was the first time I’ve read it. It’s such a sweet book!! I highly recommend it for your daughter or yourself.

Last time I laughed: Thankfully, yesterday! We had friends over for dinner and games.. Wii video games that is, and all four of us are quite competitive. Lots of yelling, cheering, and laughing took place, and it was so much fun.

Last thing I bought: Boring answer: groceries… Less boring answer: my jeans over the weekend!

Last movie I saw: This Means War. Such a funny movie! Even the husband absolutely loved it **my words (obviously!). We were both laughing so hard throughout. Its a great girly movie with enough action and guy humor to sway even the most anti-romance movie of guys.

Last tv show I watched: We’re working our way through House. I have a like/hate relationship with this show. Have you seen it? The political agenda is gag-worthy sometimes, and I wanted to strangle him throughout the first 5…7 episodes for his arrogance and brash statements, but since we have running commentary during each episode, it helps ease my annoyance.

Last thing I googled: What the word “goad” meant. I was reading through Ecclesiastes 12:11 and it talked about “the words of the wise are like goads…” and I got curious! For the record, it’s a spiked stick used for driving cattle.. So, think of the wise words being used as a motivator to drive and encourage people.

If you do this on your blog, let me know. I want to read all your fun answers!

Two pants down

Typically when someone writes “two pants down” they mean down in size, and we can all clap and cheer, but that’s not me. I’m down two pants because both have tore in the exact same spot, within two weeks of each other!

Blasted inner thigh area.

One of two things could have caused this…

Increase in thigh size, increase in thigh size, or increase in thigh size.

Okay, that was three, but I’ll spare the guesses. {whispers} it’s cause #3..and 2..and 1.

I have no idea how this happened, (I say as I spread chocolate icing on a graham cracker). But truthfully, I wasn’t expecting this second pair to “R.I.P” (terrible pun intended). The first pair I owned held up beautifully through all the little weight fluctuations for 13 years. But this pair I’ve only had for three years, or four, or is it five?!

Can’t remember for the life of me, but definitely not 13! Too soon in my book. Too soon.

the jeans ;-(

I get that “ripped” jeans are in right now. I see them all over the internet, but I like to be covered, and not have random chunks of skin uncomfortably popping out. Just not my thing.

Which bring me back to the “cause.”

I workout six days a week, (not bragging, because remember: two jeans down!), and was actually just having a conversation with my husband about this very topic. Changes are happening in every other area but my thighs. They’re slimmer but not toning. As my husband pointed out, my legs are someone else’s midsection. Meaning, where one person struggles to lose weight in their belly, I struggle to tone and define my legs. He’s right. Since high school, it’s been my one area. I mean, even my podiatrist, years ago, said I will always have “cankles.” (thanks, doc) Thus, I’m noticing pants with stretch, ie. legging-esque quality, fit nicely, while my jeans… require major hoisting up.

What’s a girl to do?

If you say, ‘not eat chocolate icing graham crackers,’ I’d say, “have you tried it?!” Okay, I’d really say, “no, duh!” But truth is, this is the first time in 17 years I’ve done this… leftover icing from my birthday cake can’t go to waste after all. I eat pretty healthy – degree in nutrition helps in that area – so maybe it’s just the ol’ “getting older” excuse that’s shaking things up. It’s hard to say, but I know one thing’s for sure, it’s time to go shopping!

Which is where you come in!

What are your favorite jeans brand? Where do you shop? What do you buy?
I want quality, comfortable jeans that don’t require me to hold my breath and strain just to get them past my knees. That leaves out any super skinny can-see-every-dimple kind of jeans. no-no, just no. I want to be able to breathe like a normal person.

It’s obvious that it’s been years since I’ve been jeans shopping and need all the help I can get.

And! Any recommendations on sizing issues? Waist is still the same size, so sizing up to accommodate the thighs means baggy waist, while sizing for the waist means loss of feeling in the thighs. A bit of a lose-lose, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on everything!

What should I do? Inquiring minds want to know!