Meal Planning

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    • #115457

      Please help! My poor family has been living off of thrown together foods, cereal, and a pathetic plate of chips and melted cheese we call “nachos”. Here is the deal.

      Cooking is a nightmare for me. Health rules, recipes, cooking utensils, time management, food inventory, lists, plans, budgets AND grocery shopping? Then you have to make it taste good. I just.can’t.even. Plus I have a picky husband, which I have no patience for, and 3 small children who would happily eat toast for dinner every night.

      One son inherited my lovely ADHD and I really want to make sure we all fuel ourselves well. What’s more is I live in small town Wyoming where “fancy” produce like fresh snow peas (not kidding, I couldn’t get these at our grocery store) are elusive. The bigger grocery stores are about an hour away.

      I have scoured the internet for solutions and have found some great advice, especially from the meal resources on this site and, per usual, feel terrific enthusiasm for several hundred ideas.

      We need help. What we really need is a mom, but I AM the mom so heaven help us!

      How do you do it? I wish I could just delegate meal planning and write it off as not adhd friendly, but I am a stay at home mom and my husband already does so much to help me out. That and that ever enduring adhd characteristic of tenacity that keeps us all moving forward won’t let me give up.

    • #115551

      Hi! I don’t have ADHD, but I HATE meal planning and cooking and am responsible for it in our house too, as the parent who is home more, so I figured I’d chime in!

      I didn’t really start cooking until my son was 18 months, and I eased myself into it slowly. I look for recipes with the word “easy” in it, and go from there! I still count on having one or two meals a week that are still pretty much just thrown together, but at least healthier, like spaghetti with a jarred sauce and bagged salad. I don’t assign meals to a particular day of the week, that way if I’m on the ball, I choose to make a more complicated one, and if it’s a messy day, I make the one with the least prep required!

      If it helps, here’s the process I do every week:

      1. Write out the list of 6 meals I want to make (I factor in one day of leftovers.) I use a lot of websites to find easy recipes. In addition to having an easy thrown-together option, I also try to have one meal that can be in the freezer, so it lasts till the end of the week. I like frozen shrimp and frozen edamame for a good end of week meal, and make rice to go with it.

      2. Write down the list of ingredients I need that we don’t already have.

      3. If you have a grocery store with online ordering, it’s been a lifesaver for me! I don’t have to organize my list by dairy, fruits, etc., I just type in each thing randomly and add it to the online cart. My grocery store remembers my ‘favorites’ and has a list of things I need every week like bread, apples, eggs, milk, butter etc. But if it didn’t, I would make a list to keep on the fridge of the things you typically need every week, to make your weekly job easier.

      4. Get groceries (easy peasy with online ordering. I pay $3 to just drive up and have them load the bags, and it’s worth every penny.)

      5. Put the meal list on the fridge, so I remember my overall plan. Then see how each day goes and make whatever fits with how hectic that day is.

      6. Work with your kids’ ability to eat the same thing over and over, and keep your tried and true recipes in the rotation. I make a lot of the same things over and over, but at least they’re hitting all the major food groups and no one complains! I occasionally add in something new, but mostly stick to familiar recipes. Once you get in a groove, it helps a lot! You’ll get faster and faster at making your few “specialities”! Good luck!

    • #115563
      Penny Williams

      There’s a great prior discussion on this too:

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #115604

      Thanks so much! I love the idea of not assigning a day because I feel like abandoning it all when it doesn’t go as planned.

      Looking forward to checking out that previous thread. Thank you!

    • #115830

      I plan out a weeks worth of meals – 1 breakfast & 7 dinners. In the past, I have handed my husband a cooking magazine (Light & Tasty, Weight Watchers, etc) or a cookbook and say pick a couple out. I am not a short order cook – He has to eat what I fix, so he might as well help choose what’s for dinner. I live in a large city but only go to store once a week. I don’t have time/energy to stop multiple times during week.

    • #115838

      I love these ideas! I just want to add that the pediatrician told me “It’s your job to provide a healthy meal. It’s their job to eat it.”

    • #115857


      Maybe you can print lists of commonly purchased fruits, vegetables , meat and cereal with checkboxes?

      To be honest, I usually buy 4-6 types of vegetables, a few types of fruits, chicken, pork, fish every week so it’s always within my budget but I cook them on different days using different recipes/cooking methods or sauces for each type of ingredients. I might buy something fancy once in a while like fresh salmon $6-12 but I’ll adjust my budget by buying another cheaper type of meat or vegetable.

      As long as my family sees a different type of vegetable or if the dish looks different every day, they’re ok. Eg Monday – broccoli, Tuesday – spinach. We also eat pork a few times a week, but I cook pork cutlets with tomato sauce and onions, steamed pork, stir fry veggies with pork slices. Generally I just have a menu of things I can cook whether I’m tired or not so it doesn’t take too much effort. Or I would marinate different batches of meat and just cook them on any day.

      For picky eaters, I may chop some things finely like vegetables and hide it in an omelette with other things like minced meat or use some ingredients to mask the flavour eg in a stew.

    • #121057

      Resurrecting an old post, sorry, but I had to contribute! My technique – don’t be afraid of the freezer! And store-bought sauces are your friend – don’t listen to the foodies who tell you that you must cook all of your spaghetti sauce from scratch!

      Frozen veggies are a god-send. We have a second fridge in the basement and my husband complains because it’s full of frozen veggies!

      Chicken breasts in bulk, individually packaged. Costco sells large packages of individual packs, each with 2 chicken breasts. Same with thighs, etc. Freeze it all.

      Jarred simmering sauces. Giant bottles of barbecue sauce. Cans of sloppy joe sauce (aka Manwich sauce).

      Giant bags of quinoa and/or rice.

      If you don’t have an instant pot, get one. Here’s what you do:

      Cut up a thawed chicken breasts into bite sized pieces. Shape doesn’t matter, whatever. Brown it in the pan, just so it’s not raw on the outside. Throw in a bag of veggies (I like the stir fry medleys or other mixed vegetables). Pour in a jar of your favorite simmering sauce. Put on the lid and cook for, say, 10 minutes. Boom.

      While you’re doing this, fire up the instant pot and cook a couple of cups of rice or quinoa on the side. This is optional, because starches aren’t strictly necessary, but it adds bulk.

      Cook the chicken, add peas and broccoli. Stir in a bottle of store-bought alfredo sauce and dump it on top of a bowl of pasta. Boom.

      Dump 2-4 chicken breasts in the instant pot and cover with simmering sauce, manwich sauce, barbecue sauce, whatever. If it’s thick, add a little water. Cook on high pressure 10 minutes. Put the breasts into a bowl and use a hand mixer to mix it into shreds. Mix with the sauce and throw it on a sandwich. Boom.

      Just don’t be afraid of buying store-bought, pre-made ingredients and putting them together. Nobody cares, as long as it satisfies a hunger and provides all the veggies and lean protein your family needs. It wouldn’t be on the shelf if it wasn’t tasty, and why bother reinventing the wheel? Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that!

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