Sunday 7 April 2013

That love-hate relationship with menu planning

Planning to succeed 

Recently I have had a couple of phone calls that went something like this: 'I'm really struggling with menu planning and making healthy meals', from lovely folk who contacted me via my Facebook page. Their stories were ones I could relate to well. Dietary restrictions or health goals were seemingly overwhelming amidst the demands of family life and other could they make the changes needed or come up with meals that will be eaten?

These conversations were mutually encouraging and touched on two key elements that I have been learning:

1) Energy - You need an energy source for positive steps, and usually, when you most need help you are most energy depleted.

2) Abundance - menu planning from an abundance of ideas on a brainstorming page really helps. Having an abundance of the right foods and ingredients stocked up is wonderful.

Firstly, the issue of energy is really important. Instead of judging yourself for not being more motivated or successful, accept that menu planning to adapt dietary needs takes mental energy that you may not have to spare. You need to create the energy. The folks who called were smart, the phone conversations energised them. So might a cooking class, or brainstorming session with a friend in a similar situation. I remember the early and super draining days of the elimination diet I called a wonderful friend and just sobbed on the phone while she comforted and prayed for me. It is good to be cared for! Then she shared with me the stories of change for their family which gave me the energy to hang in there. So what do you think would energise you with your menu planning? Do you need to be more kind to yourself?

Then to abundance. Language is important, words like 'nourishing' instantly feeds into our psyche of 'the good old days' and our need to be cared for. Working on the principle of abundance is good psychology for approaching a menu planning session. If I'm just looking at a list of days to write meal ideas beside, I usually get stuck by about Wednesday. But if a cover a page with 'potential options' in a brainstorm session, and then just pull out choices, I can fill a week much more easily. It's good to have a brainstorm page available somewhere that you can add new ideas as you see them on the net or in books.

You also make better choices when you have an abundance of helpful foods and ingredients. My recent call was about healthy eating with a preference for whole foods and lots of fruit and veg.

I think these photos would make a Tupperware consultant weep, but whatever you use,it's much easier to succeed when you have containers of seeds in the cupboard, and containers of cooked brown rice, mesclun, veggies and herbs in the fridge. All you need to do for lunch is a quick chopped salad with lots of seeds thrown in for protein, and stir it through the baby spinach or mesclun. Loads of veggies, colour, flavour and speed. Keep left over bits and pieces of veg for soups, and leaves of greens for smoothies. Have the materials to make change easier.

Thank you to my callers, and to my friend who saved my sanity! Let's be kind to ourselves and brainstorm away.

Stay tuned for my next post about menu planning to use up ingredients and rethink the lunch box with healthy winter options. For now....I would love to hear about your brainstorming for your menu planning.


  1. Thanks for the tips on where to keep different food items.....fridge vs pantry. It's a bit overwhelming when starting on a healthy eating / thermie adventure so your info is helpful.
    It's great you have a menu plan, even if its hard to get in and make one......remember even a slight / small menu plan is better than none at all. Keep up the great work Mummy Lush!

    1. Thank you skippy steps. we just need to go one step at a time don't we?