The Problem with Meal Planning: Top 10 Worst Things About Planning Meals for 8

Although I try {Lord, how I try!} to fool myself, my husband, & my friends, I have a confession to make:

I hate meal planning.

Oh how it I dread it! Dread is not a bad enough word to describe my feelings when I think about meal planning: fear, quake, shudder, tremble, terror, trepidation… you get the idea. {Thank you, trusty thesaurus, for always helping me fully express my melodrama!}

Unfortunately, when one is living one’s Almost Domesticated Life, one finds oneself in the unfortunate position of having to face what one dislikes on a daily basis. {How’d you like that disassociation there? Pretty effective, don’t you think?} Regardless of how much I hate this part of being domesticated, there will come a time when the other seven people who make their home in my house ask me “Oi! What’s for supper?!”

And, since I’m trying to be both frugal and productive with my time, I came to the realization that #1- Domino’s is not a viable answer for every night, and #2- Driving the twenty miles to town to grab something costs almost as much as ordering Domino’s, only I am more exhausted once the evening is over!

And, since Pinterest is not a meal planner’s best friend {regardless what they’d have you believe!}, I am stuck trying to figure out what on earth I’m going to feed my family and how in the world I am going to plan out their darn meals, and feeling guilty because I am not a meal planning extraordinaire, and it’s 7pm because I was browsing through Pinterest looking at printables {don’t you judge me!} and shouting back “Oi BACK to YOU! I fed you once already this month! What do you expect from me?? What do you think I am, your wife or something?!?” Oh wait… that’s right.

10 Worst Button

So this, my dear readers, is my list of the top 10 worst things about meal planning for my family of 8.

{Also known as “This is me pouting, while writing this, because I need to pout occasionally before I suck it up and do the thing anyway!”}

  • 1) Recipes do not come sized for my family of 8.

Ever paid attention to those lovely recipes from Martha Stewart or Food Network? They are so pretty, you can just smell them through the computer screen! BUT they have this awful thing called a ‘serving size’. That means that if I fix their supposedly frugal meal for my family either someone is going hungry {hi! I’m Mom… have we met?}, or I’ll be back in the kitchen in about 5 minutes making something else to go along with it because standard serving size is 4. Six kids + Mom + Dad = More than 4. Otherwise known as cruel and unusual punishment.

  • 2) Frugal recipes are not frugal once they have had to be multiplied by 2 {or 3, or even 4!}

Come on, now. Give me a break. Anytime you try to sell me a recipe that costs $5 for 2 servings, you should just be honest and say “HEY! I’m going to make you feel horrible because this dish, that you have been salivating over for the last ten minutes, is going to cost you about $50 for one meal, and still leave your kids clamoring for some plain old sugar rice to fill up the leftover space in their bellies. It is not frugal!

  • 3) Bell peppers are not cheap.

Seriously? Any recipe that is based on me having to buy a bell pepper per person automatically blows my meal budget. {I have to pay between 75¢ and $1.29 per pepper. $1.29 per pepper x eight people (who each want two) = $20.64!! Even if I enforce a one-bell-pepper-per-person rule, I’m looking at $10.32 before I even buy anything else!) The same thing goes for asparagus. It takes 2-3 pounds of asparagus to give everyone what they want of it, and at $2.99 per pound, *Poof!* goes the food budget! Don’t try to pass these off as frugal or cheap or inexpensive options.

  • 4) Getting eight people to want to eat the same thing at one time is like… getting eight people to want to eat the same thing at one time.

Yes, I admit it. We are picky eaters around here. Besides allergies & health issues {two are lactose intolerant, one is allergic to eggs, two have gluten sensitivities, one is hypoglycemic},  our family is naturally… picky. We don’t eat pork {so much for the ‘other white meat’}, we don’t eat meat and cheese at the same meal, we don’t eat certain kinds of fish {catfish, tilapia, etc.}. Add that in to just plain ole food aversions {cheese, ground meat, meat in general, onions, cooked vegetables, etc.} and food preferences {yellow foods, lettuce, macaroni & cheese, etc.} and we are just hard to please! No wonder I cringe when I think about meal planning!

  • 5) Cooking healthy, from scratch meals for eight = a lot of doubling recipes that just don’t double.

I was so excited when my Danish Rye Sourdough Starter came in from Cultures from Health. {affiliate link} So excited. But the problem with it is, even the recipes that I have from their website, which is awesome otherwise, are not suited for a family of eight people. And baking recipes typically do not double well. So… it takes a lot of the fun out of prepping awesome, fresh, healthy food because the food magically disappears before I even get to taste it, unless I make it twice… wait- yeah… it still is gone before I drag my tired self to the counter to grab some.

  • 6) While I’m thinking about it, Cooking the healthy, from scratch recipes that do double.

Not that I don’t love them, but it’s kind of sad when I have to ask for the original, restaurant sized recipe {like how I found our favorite pancake recipe– which is basically the only pancake recipe we all agree is worth eating} and still have to double it to make enough for me to get a pancake or two. A gallon or two of pancake mix anyone?

  • 7) Most ‘advice’ websites do not factor in having your children home 24/7.

While this wasn’t a problem when we were public schooling, we’ve brought our children back home now {and it’s still technically summer break-ish… more on this later!} so I can’t very well plan for just suppers throughout the week and only two {breakfast/snack/lunch/snack/supper} days. I need to find inexpensive meals for everyday, all day, and the times in between.

  • 8) It’s hard work, following those guidelines.

Have you ever, seriously, seen a week’s worth of groceries for a family of 8? When most of the food is raw or frozen, and meals are made from scratch instead of prepackaged? More importantly, have you ever shopped for it? According to my workout app, I burn almost 400 calories each shopping trip. And that’s just at the store, not counting processing and putting them away once I get home! That’s not including whenever I get the crazy idea to try and shop for more than one week at a time, or whenever I get a wild hair and decide I’m going to ‘freezer cook’ or ‘once a month’ cook.

  • 9) Short cuts are few and far between.

When we just had a couple of kids {technically we went from one, to three, to five, to six so…} it was easy to say “Oh! Well, I am just going to make enough for leftovers from this, and then we’ll eat these with that and we’ll have two {or three or more} meals from just one cooking session.” Perhaps you’ve figured out the magic formula, but I haven’t. I am in the kitchen 5 or 6 times each day, preparing meals, making snacks, mixing drinks, etc. because leftovers are not really something that can be counted on around here. And snacks, left unattended, magically vanish from the countertops and the refrigerator.

  • 10) I like food.

Yeah, I know. This should be a plus, but it’s really not when you are trying to plan meals for a picky bunch of ravenous monsters humans. While I know that, in theory, I can’t afford to make crawfish monthly or fix three or four course breakfasts, I want to, because you know, I like food.


You must be wondering, at this point, what I am getting at with all this complaining about meal planning. Well, I know myself and I know that it takes me about a week to complete a month’s worth of grocery lists {and any less than that at one time really just feels like a waste of my time}. Since we are coming up on the first week of the month (and the last week of groceries in my cabinets), and I’ve had some of my friends request more ‘instructional’ type posts, I am going to be blogging my way through my monthly meal planning.

And yes, venting my frustrations and then getting over them are the first step to planning my menu each month! : –)

I can’t promise how many posts this will turn into {although I am looking at 3 ‘how-to’s’ and one ‘grand finale’}, I hope you’ll join me as I prepare, once again, to feed my kiddos through this month!

So, tell me! Do you meal plan? Do you love it or hate it?





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