Are You in the Mood for Your Meal Plan?

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Sometimes you just don’t feel like making that thing you planned to make for dinner, do you? Here are some solutions to help you eat well and spend less.

Are You in the Mood for Your Meal Plan? Sometimes you just don't feel like making that thing you planned to make for dinner, do you? Here are some solutions to help you eat well and spend less.

Poblano Chile Enchiladas

It’s a well-known fact that having a meal plan and successfully executing are tremendous ways to save money, time, and resources. A home cooked meal on time and under budget is a thing of beauty after all.

But there are plenty of things that can get in the way. We’ve talked before about tricks to make a meal plan happen. But a reader wrote in with quite the thoughtful — and honest — question:

My biggest challenge is when I am not in the mood for the meal I have planned/ prepared for that night. How do I get in the mood for it or prepare for that situation?

Admit it. You’ve totally been there before as well. You plan the meals, you buy the groceries, and when 4:30 rolls around, your mojo just isn’t there. Been there, done that, times infinity.

Are you in the mood for your meal plan?

And if not, what are you going to do about it?

Are You in the Mood for Your Meal Plan? Sometimes you just don't feel like making that thing you planned to make for dinner, do you? Here are some solutions to help you eat well and spend less.


Alfredo Mac and Cheese

Here are some things to think about when you just don’t feel like making that turkey pot pie/pork roast/chicken stirfry/beef tacos/veggie polenta bake:

Can you make something else?

The meal plan is there to serve you. There’s no law that says you have to make what you planned. Can you switch the plan to another night without running to the store, grabbing fast food, or heading to a restaurant? If so, then go for it.

If you do change to plan B and you’ve already got ingredients for plan A, be sure to use those up so they don’t go to waste.

Watch your attitude

Our attitudes play a huge role in the kitchen. If we are feeling thrifty, we use up the leftovers, eat down the pantry, and otherwise make the most of what we have. If we’ve got a little devil-may-care thing going on, we may be buying up half of Costco, neglecting what’s in the fridge, and eating filet mignon and lobster, though our wallets beg us not to.

Even something as simple as prepping tonight’s meal can get a boost from an attitude adjustment.

Remember your motives.

What are your goals? Are you looking to save money? Lose weight? Eat more healthfully? Spend more time with your people?

If you keep these ideas in the forefront of your mind, especially when you’ve got a bad case of I-don’t-wanna’s, you can move mountains! Or at least get supper in the oven before the sunrises tomorrow morning.

Keep your end game in mind. Stay focused.

Let your goals for eating and spending rule over your appetite.

Are You in the Mood for Your Meal Plan? Sometimes you just don't feel like making that thing you planned to make for dinner, do you? Here are some solutions to help you eat well and spend less.

Get some external helps.

That said, there are a few things you do to help make the process a little more fun. They aren’t crazy brilliant, but they do help.

Turn on some good music. If you’ve got some tunes going while you cook, you can get into a groove instead of being grumpy about the meal plan you don’t feel all that groovy about.

Pour your favorite drink. Whether it’s a cup of coffee, a glass of sweet tea, or something stronger, pour yourself something nice to drink so that you can relax while you cook.

Start with a clean kitchen. We’ve talked about this before. A clean kitchen is half the battle. It’s so much more fun to cook in a clean work space. Take ten minutes, tell yourself you’re cleaning, not cooking supper, and get busy. Then, tell yourself to cook.

Sharpen your knives. Dull knives do not a happy chef make. Be sure you’ve got a sharp knife to work with.

Are You in the Mood for Your Meal Plan? Sometimes you just don't feel like making that thing you planned to make for dinner, do you? Here are some solutions to help you eat well and spend less.

Have a trash bowl handy. I think it’s imperative to have a spot for trash right next to you as you prep dinner. Not only does it save you steps and time, but it also clears some mental clutter. You won’t be thinking about the mess you have to clean up when you’re done; it will be easy to just dump the bowl at the end of your cooking session.

Use good dishes and garnishes. My daughters love to make things “fancy.” They regularly choose the prettiest plates and set a nice table. They also love arranging a plate to serve. Last week when we were making rice bowls, FishChick5 asked for “that green stuff to put on top to make it look pretty.” She meant cilantro. And it did, indeed, make the dish more appetizing.

Find a helper. No one likes to do a chore alone. If dinner seems like a chore tonight, enlist some help. I know that it’s always more fun to cook when I have a child or my husband to visit with while we cook. Dinner comes together more quickly and we get to spend some good time together.

Just do it.

If all else fails, just bite the bullet and make supper. Any supper. Every night does not have to be a feast. We are so fortunate to live in a country where we can eat every night, let alone choose the menu. Don’t squander these gifts.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m as obsessive a foodie as always. But, as I age, I’m learning to season it with a little realism. Unless you have unlimited time and money, you probably won’t always get what you want.

And that’s okay. You can still have good cheap eats.

What do YOU do when you’re not in the mood for your meal plan?

Planning Meals to Match the Grocery Sales - Learn how to plan your meals based on what's on sale at the grocery store.This is part of the Meal Planning 101 series. I think we’re going to tackle every possible topic by the time we’re through. If you’d like to learn how to meal plan better this year, check out the posts you’ve missed and catch a glimpse at what’s coming up.

If you’ve got a question I haven’t yet answered, submit it here.

Interested, but need some extra help? There are 40 FREE Printable Meal Plansover on Life as MOM. Complete with grocery lists and meal prep tips, they will help you take a break this week.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. I get around the “not in the mood for this tonight” problems by doing our meal plan a bit differently than what I have seen most people do. I make a list of entrees for the 2 weeks of meal planning, and then do my shopping for those entrees. (Plus snacks, normal breakfast items, desserts, breads, etc.)
    The idea of doing a “Monday it’s this, Tuesday it’s this” meal plan honestly stressed me out–what if I don’t feel like that on Monday? What if I forget to have the meat thawed/put something in the crockpot in the morning?
    I just have a list of all the meals I am going to make on a whiteboard in my kitchen, and decide in the morning/that night when I get home what we are having for dinner. It’s not perfect, but it works for us! (Especially with my husband working 2nd shift full time, and me working first shift 4 days a week….we do a lot of leftovers!)

    • Donn says

      I do the same thing as Serena. Has taken most of the stress out of meal planning for me and gives me the flexibility I need. I have found I have less waste when I do it this way, too.

  2. Kjane says

    My way to plan for those “I don’t want to cook what I’d planned” nights is to have a few fall back easy ingredients on hand. Our two are stacked beans, rice, salsa, and cheese or frozen burritoes covered with enchilada sauce and cheese then baked. Both of these “recipes” turn fancier if we have sour cream or ripe avocados to top them off. Neither of these take hardly any time and both are loved for dinner. I’m exhausted when I get home from work and often these two easy meals have kept us from ordering out or going to a restaurant.

  3. Harriet says

    My crock pot keeps me from being able to change the meal plan. If It is already cooked and ready to eat, then there is no way I am going to change my mind!

  4. I was sharing my monthly meal plan with my mom the other day and she asked me what I do if I don’t want what is planned. I kinda gave her a funny look and told her that is such a rare occurrence, it doesn’t really apply. We normally just eat whatever is on the plan. If there is such a night where we run out of time or something goes wrong, I just switch it for a night that has a simpler meal. No big deal.

  5. Heather says

    I have done a menu with a list of 25-28 meals for the month (we need some leftover days). And as of late I just do a daily. But if I have more time on one day than another than I will switch it around. Or if my meat isn’t thawed out yet I will switch it up. Take this coming Tuesday, its supposed to be Mac & Cheese (Dh is out of town for work), but J’s tutor is coming and we exchange goods for services. So I will switch it to Thursday’s egg salad sandwiches because than I can make 2 loaves of bread and give her a loaf of bread and a block of cheese to go with it.

    BTW don’t feel guilty that I didn’t make Saturday’s meal of soup because NO one was hungry. My growing 8&10 year old boys were NOT hungry.

  6. Melissa says

    If I don’t feel like going by the plan I may switchto another day or do breakfast for dinner. Its always a “weird” coincidence that when I make a plan the week goes a but smoother and less stressed.

  7. Great post. I’ve been having one of those months!!!! Eventually, reason has to win out, and I ‘just do it’. I do make a plan, but it almost always gets altered. Breakfast for dinner is one of our fave go-tos when I just don’t feel the meal plan.

  8. Carla says

    If it’s an “I don’t feel like tacos tonight” then I’ll just switch it out. But most of the time it’s a list of meals available for the week or two. When I’m on my game I will plot them out—usually because certain nights are not conducive to certain meals. On sports nights I’m not going to be home to bake a quiche so I will slot a crockpot dish or something like tacos, etc. that’s easy to put together. The other meals can be moved around at will. I do have to make sure certain ingredients don’t go bad. If the day get’s messed up I usually hope there there is a “go to” meal available instead of stopping for take-out on the way home from the messed-up-schedule day.

  9. Diana says

    I’ve had a lot of this happen during this pregnancy 🙂

    One story that sticks in my mind especially is when I didn’t get supper started in time because I didn’t want to eat it. My hubby came home and I was complaining about not wanting to make ____ for supper. “Can we just have peanut butter?” I asked, joking. “SURE!” he replied! So we had peanut butter on toasted pitas and fried eggs. I never would have thought hubby would have been ok with that for dinner (I figured it was copping out, wouldn’t fill him up, would be strange together, etc.), but it just goes to show it never hurts to ask and combine what you have even if they wouldn’t usually be served together in a restaurant 🙂

  10. Heather m says

    A week late to this post, but had to chime in. Some weeks I don’t plan well at all, like this week. I’m flying by the seat of my pants 3/3 days so far. It’s working though, because I have a freezer full of healthy fare, pantry essentials, and fresh produce, etc, in the fridge. I figure out my mood/timing/what haven’t we eaten in the past few days and then figure something out. Yesterday I figured it out at dinnertime. Today, I looked for recipe ideas several hours earlier. I employ this strategy when I’m planning better but not in the mood for what was planned. It works if one keeps a relatively good stock of food. Everyone’s been really happy this week so far, and the only planned meal so far is Friday night’s. Which will be fish-based since we observe meatless Fridays right now.


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