Guest Post: Taming Midweek Madness in the Kitchen with Meal Planning

by Lian on September 8, 2011

Lian’s note: this week’s back to school guest blogger is Alison Anderson Holland, a mother/cook/writer/vegetarian who is also a Chaos Crew regular. Alison created to write about food and faith. Her delightful blog is filled with recipes like Zucchini Hotdish, so earthly sounding I want to cry… and eat. It’s a pleasure to welcome Alison to the Chaos Chronicles after reading her great comments for years. Thanks, Alison for sharing our words and that adorable picture of you and your girls. Be sure to click through all the links to read more!


From Alison:

Welcome home, Mom. We're hungry! This week's guest blogger Alison Anderson Holland strategies for getting dinner on the table mid-week.

Just as my baby began fussing, demanding some ‘ nutritional needs’ ,  her darling two year-old sister greeted me at the door with a whiny, “Eat some, eat some.” Arghh.  Getting by with next- to- no REM sleep, it was enough to bring me to my knees.  Fortunately, my coworkers were working moms with a few more years’ experience perfecting a dinner time trick or two. Here are some of the meal planning tricks I’ve borrowed or cooked up on my own to tame mid-week madness in the kitchen:

Last winter, my supervisor introduced me to once-a-month cooking.  A quick internet search will  garner tips for any diet — meat eating, vegetarian, gluten-free — you name it.  It’s a bit challenging to accomplish juggling kids in your arms, or tugging at your pant leg, but with just one kid-free day at home a month, it’s a great option.  Make it a social event with your girlfriends or sisters.  Why not?  As a life-long Minnesotan, my first try at this in January was  heavy on “hot dish,” but burgers and ready-to-grill tinfoil packet veggies are great examples of warmer weather (and likely healthier) options.

When I was growing up, my family leaned toward weekly planning. I’d venture a guess that this is one of the more popular sanity-saving dinner strategies.  Simply take stock of your cupboards and freezer, then flip through the weekly ad for your favorite supermarket.  Be sure to consider your schedule for upcoming soccer games and PTA meetings as you plan the week’s meals.

Most would call my next suggestion completely impractical, but I argue day-to-day meal planning is just the kind of extravagance a postpartum woman needs to feel a little human again. Take a peek at your favorite food blogs for a little inspiration, then hit the streets. (See Alison’s favorite blogs below!)  Stroll leisurely  through the farmer’s market or grocery store.  Everyone needs a reason to get out of their office  or house mid-day.  Why not shop for something you need to spend money on anyway?  Plus , shopping with the kids is much more fun when it’s short and sweet — a meal or two at a time.  If  all else fails, employ the onion trick.

Like most things in life, families often find a balance of strategies to work best.  No matter your  plan, it’s normal to fall off the wagon from time to time.  Be kind to yourself. Even the tightest  budgets can withstand a take-out night or two.

Alison Anderson Holland


Related posts from Lian:

Lian’s Meal Planning


Alison’s Favorite Food Blogs :




Alison September 12, 2011 at 6:23 AM

Natalie! That sounds awful. My mom would come in the door each night with a droopy me on the couch asking what’s for dinner. It was likely the most stessful part of our relationship until she made a rule. I was responsible to look through the cupboards and freezer and choose something for dinner before she came home. Then she’d gladly prepare it. My husband and I booth hate choosing if we wait until 5, so it’s occasionally if you pick, I’ll cook, or vice versa. Alternatively, if you planned on the weekends, would your husband be willing to plan lunch around the dinner menu? Good luck!

Natalie September 9, 2011 at 3:53 PM

Ah! I would dream of such luxury. Clearly, I have not trained my husband well or, put my foot down on this one for, lo, these past 20 years.

Here is my situation. My husband does not want to eat chicken if he has had chicken for lunch or the night before. Where you read chicken in the last sentence, feel free to insert any other type of meat and/or fish. Therefore, having no knowledge of what he has eaten for lunch, I cannot plan ahead. As a result, each night at around 5 pm we have the “dinner discussion”, as in “What do you want for dinner?”. After much pondering, he determines his choice, given available options and I commence to cooking it.

Admittedly, this often results in far too much eating out. Occasionally, I do plan things ahead using my crockpot or baking, but it is truly rare, and it is usually only when I know my day will be too busy to cook on the fly.

Last year my husband taught one night each week and the girls and I loved those evenings, as he is a carnivore and we could suffice with cereal or vegetable quesadillas for dinner. This quarter he is teaching classes 4 nights a week, so I envision evening nirvana for the 11 weeks of fall quarter! Can’t wait! (Love my husband, just dread dinner prep each day.)

mari (Bookworm with a View) September 8, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Thanks for the guest post. I have been thinking about cooking/baking so the timing is perfect!

I will be making fluffy peanut butter cookies this weekend!

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