How to Cringe Less When You Hear the Words, “What’s for Dinner?”

What if there was an easy answer to “What’s for Dinner?” What if it became such a routine that you didn’t have to think about it but once a week?

Grown-ups, does your family really have to eat every day?

Life Coaching, life coach, coach, success,

I don’t know about you but my family seems to think they are supposed to eat EVERY DAY! You would think I would get on board with this idea and actually plan out what I was going to make. After being married for almost 15 years (October), I still don’t have a system for meals/menu planning. Why is this? Would it really reduce my stress when the kids ask, “What’s for dinner?”

Why have I resisted for this long? My nature has me rebelling before I have even thought of the situation, this happens in all aspects of my life. Someone tells me, “You should wash your clothes every week.” Instantly I’m thinking, “NO, I shouldn’t! I should do what I want! You can’t boss me around!”. But what if…

What if we could develop a simple menu planning system that would reduce our stress, inform everyone what’s for dinner & even save us some cash at the store? We wouldn’t have to tell anyone that we developed said system. Hmmmm…

If we were to hypothetically develop a simple menu planning system, how would we go about doing that? What if we set a timer for 5 minutes and start writing all the main dishes our family has on a regular basis. Then set it again for 5 minutes and do sides. We’d have a list of typical meals for our house, and we didn’t have to over think anything. Alrighty! Let’s add an element of fun. Gather 2 containers, cut “mains” into individual strips and put into one container. Do the same for the “sides” and put in the other container. Now have the kids choose one of each and write it down for each day of the week.

We now have a week’s/month’s/couple days’ worth of meals! We can then set the timer for 5-10 minutes and write out our grocery list. A little bit of work, but the time spent with the kids may be worth it! After we go to the store we’ll have everything on hand that we need to make said meals & we are free to choose any one that we want!

What do you think? Do you think this is worth the effort? Does the timer create more stress or less stress for you? Do you have any creative ideas to accomplish the same mission of knowing what’s for dinner, having everything on hand & maybe just maybe not cringing each time you hear, “Ma, what’s for dinner?”?

I’d love to hear from you! Visit this post over at and leave a comment or 12.

Be Awesome!



Ms Orange

Kimberly spends her days looking for new ways to help busy women be more productive, live intentionally & rebel against the “norms”. She works one-on-one with women all over the world who want to live their lives and not have their lives live them. She is a veteran, military spouse, mom, depression & anxiety butt-kickin ninja & has released 190 pounds through self-awareness and healthy choices.


56 thoughts on “How to Cringe Less When You Hear the Words, “What’s for Dinner?”

  1. There are probably about 7-10 dinners that we really love that I make on repeat–no schedule, but we eat the same things often, so I always know what to buy. There’s a few other “fancier” meals I have that are maybe a little more expensive in the ingredients or more time consuming, so I only bring those out when we’re really craving them or when we’re having company. haha! That very casual system works for us.

    1. I love the casual system! My only issue is I completely go blank when I get to the store. Like all the sudden I’m in a foreign country trying to find the restroom…. I’m completely lost! LOL Kinda scary sometimes.

  2. This was great! I love to live and am all about time-savers and creativity. Awesome idea. I’d use it except my kids are grown.

  3. There are so many different ways to plan your meals, so the one that works for you is the right one. 🙂 Cute idea about sticking all of the little slips into containers.

    We “plan” on a much larger scale since I do food storage and try to keep six-twelve months of food on hand. But in the end it’s the same – I’m making meals with ingredients that I know are in the pantry and I need to know what meals fit those ingredients!

    And yes, I’ve been known to say “Didn’t I feed you yesterday?”

    1. Wow! I can’t wait to have this part down so well that I can move onto a larger scale. That’s impressive!

      LOL- Glad I’m not the only one who says, “Didn’t I feed you yesterday?”!!

  4. I hate having to think about dinner! I never used to have to think about it because my husband works so late but now with my mother living with us I need to do it and oh boy does it drive me nuts!

  5. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants in life and that applies to my meal planning as well. I honestly do need to plan better because it is so frustrating to work late and not have anything in the crockpot. Maybe you have convinced me to get busy and start planning, maybe…

  6. I don’t always menu plan, but when I do, things sure do go better for my family! I work from home and homeschool, so life can be crazy and super busy, and meal planning is a way of making sure that we eat good food and don’t end up buying fast food or spending too much on unhealthy convenience foods. Thank you for motivating me to get back to meal planning!

  7. With five kids I need to be on top of menu planning or it all goes downhill! I know what we like and don’t like and still try to make something new every three weeks. I have a month or so of meals for each season that we rotate through. Lunches are always the biggest challenge because I prefer snackier-healthy sorts of things and the kids get tired of that. I cook mostly from scratch and spend a good bit of the day in the kitchen so planning ahead is a must!

  8. Right there with you! Something so simple that I can not seem to nail down. There have been seasons of my life where it has been so easy and other times like pulling teeth. I even realize the benefit and still struggle with doing it!

  9. I keep a 30-day list of meals I like to make and try to always have the ingredients for many of the recipes on hand at any given time. And, I try to make a (flexible) weekly list of what I plan to make during the week. It helps to avoid the feeling of not knowing what to make for dinner.

  10. I like the idea of using a timer. I spend so long and get so complicated in my planning that it never gets done. Maybe with a time I could actually put one together. Of course, following it would be another issue entirely! 🙂

  11. I know when I plan my meals for the week, I stick to that plan. When I don’t plan, I find myself making extra trips to the grocery store during the week and spending way more money than I want to.

  12. I love that fact that after raising our son, who’s 21 years old now, we can go out to eat more and none of us have to be responsible for cooking after a long day at work. When I cook, I’m met with great respect and thanks. That’s cool too!

  13. Yeah, for me the 5 minute intervals would create too much stress–I like the one-touch, done approach much better. What is working for me is to use Saturdays as my meal planning/food prep day. It’s a little longer time required but I finish in one swoop.

  14. We basically eat the same things throughout the week so it’s pretty easy for me to go shopping and pick up what we need. We try to relax a bit during the weekends and spice things up so we don’t get burned out on the same things. I try to do meal planning as much as I can but I still pretty much play it by ear.

  15. I have ridden the “meal planning wagon” & fallen off many times! I am just working on crawling back up on it again this fall. I know its helpful & I know it saves money & I know it is healthier than eating out all the time….but it just seems so overwhelming at times. I like your idea! We end up making the same meals over & over anyway, so why not embrace that & make it simple!! Good luck to you!

  16. I set timers when cleaning my house so that I make sure I focus for a period of time. I never thought about doing that with menu planning. I recently have started making a lot of crockpot freezer meals so that I have a plan on our crazy nights.

  17. I typically cook a lot on the weekend, then we eat leftovers during the week. The crock pot is my friend. Thankfully, my husband will eat anything!

  18. This is great. I can’t even tell you how much time I waste trying to figure out meals for my huge clan. I am always last minute and end up throwing something together. Thank you!

  19. I have a Master Meal Plan I have used for years. When I’m planning for a grocery trip, I use that planner to help in making my grocery list. Many of our suppers are relaxed while at least once a week there is something new being served.

  20. Being Single I have a hard time thinking about what I am going to eat so meal planning is absolutely obsolete. I have tried, but it’s always an epic fail. So, thanks for the post~~~

  21. I’ll go for a long time meal planning and being really creative and organized with meals. Then–not so much! When I’m in that season, I don’t just cringe when I hear the question, I even get a bit irritated with them! So dumb! I do try to have the basics needed for about 5-7 meals at any one time. Never thought to do the timer idea you suggested. May give it a go.

  22. I still struggle with meal planning. I don’t know if a timer would work for us since my kids are constantly changing what they like to eat. Although, setting aside time each weekend to plan out meals for the next week has worked in the past.

  23. I like the casual approach but still make a list weekly when I do my shopping for what to pair up with my main entrée. 🙂 (ok that sounds fancy… I just mean what protein I’ll be using for each meal.)

  24. I had to start meal planning b/c I’m too unorganized. I was shooting myself in the foot and eating things that I shouldn’t before I started planning.

  25. Yes! Keeping it simple and letting everyone in on what is going on pays a lot. I have always dreaded that question and now….Though meal planning is not particularly my thing, I have found my answer. Thank you

  26. This is a great idea. It took me a while but I have a system that works for us now. I use the little sticky notes in different colours, one for sides, one for mains, one for desserts and one for breakfasts!
    I keep them all stuck at the back of my desk agenda and simply choose a main, a side and sometimes dessert for dinner and lunches and then a breakfast one for each day and stick them onto the calendar. I add new choices onto a sticky note when I come across a recipe I have tried and was a keeper.

  27. Good ideas. I can see this need with children to consider.

    My personal favorite is having a few nukables in the freezer at all times. If nobody feels like real cooking or driving for take out, we don’t starve.

    Of course we do not have any underage to help grow, so this is more feasible at my house.

  28. Wow, I thought I was the only person left without a menu planning system 🙂 I’ve been married for 10 years and have 4 kids and still I dread the question….What’s for supper? You offer great ideas for menu planning! I will have to it. Great post!

  29. Yes, I am right there with you! And I would greatly appreciate some sort of dinner guide. It’s so hard to think of something fast and easy when I don’t even get home until nearly 6pm.

  30. Having a menu plan is key for me. Helps my days go so much smoother, without dealing with the last minute what to make question. It’s hard enough to make time to make it, without dealing with the question first of WHAT to make first. Thanks for your thoughts and ideas.

  31. I love your idea. I get on the meal planning bandwagon, put it on a calendar, hang it on the fridge, go buy all the groceries, and for 3 days, it’s all good. Then life hits, I get stuck in traffic, a doctor’s appointment goes over, one of the kids have practice.
    I’ve gotten good at prepping meals a few days in advance, freezer meals for the month, and I’m a whiz at crock-pot meals. Anything that helps get food on the table easy.
    Thanks for your suggestions.

  32. This a great idea for a fun way to plan. Almost sounds like you could add a chopped or triple G spin with this as well. Love this idea!

  33. I think discipline will always help! With a meal plan you will prob eat healthier, because you will be less impulsive! I’m focusing on making lunches for the week! My next task will have to be dinner.

  34. Great idea! This is something I keep saying that I need to work on, but keep pushing it aside. However, I’m getting tired of trying to think of what we’re going to have each day for dinner. I definitely like the idea of planning out meals. It also helps with grouping ingredients and saving some money. I hadn’t thought of the timer idea, but I like the idea of making a separate list of main dishes and another list of sides, then mixing it up.

  35. My husband is the cook in our house, so I’m usually the one asking, “Hey, what’s for dinner?!” 😉 I think this is a super fun idea, though, and I would love to give it a try! We don’t have kids yet, but I think it would work for couples, too!

  36. I like your idea! I do all of my shopping and meal prep on Sunday. Side note, but I read your “about” section and wanted to congratulate you for losing so much weight and for overcoming anxiety/depression. Keep up the momentum and continue to be a good and healthy mom to those kids! 🙂 XOXO, Erin

  37. For me, the timer would create more stress. I tend to just cook in bulk and eat the same meal a few times every week :). I might switch dinner every few days though.

    1. Autumn, I agree the timer isn’t for everyone. Sometimes I rebel against the timer because “nobody is going to tell me what to do”. 😉 On the other hand I get into analysis paralysis. Thanks for stopping by!

  38. I’m a professional organizer so getting meals plan is what I am suppose to do. Its now what I do do but there you go. The five minute thing is a great idea. Go for it. I have a series that I call 4M… Margarita’s Manic Monday Minutes… small tasks that only take a few minutes. It works wonders. Good luck.

  39. Saw this title and I had to click right away! Meal planning is such a chore for me. When my boys ask me what’s for dinner something happens to me internally. I recently overhauled my meal planning system and its working for the moment. I did something similar to your five minute idea. I had everyone sit around the table and asked them their favorite meals and I wrote them down. Recently with my new system I asked everyone their favorite meals again and how often they would like to eat that meal within the month. I took that information and created a basic monthly meal plan. We are three weeks into the new plan and so far so good.

    1. Tiffany,

      That is SUPER exciting!!!! You should make a post about it on your website and share the link with us! I love learning new things!

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