Seven Things That Will Make You Motivated to Meal Plan and Get Out of the Food Allergy Dinnertime Rut
Do you ever dread thinking about food? Or do you ever know exactly what you’re going to make or bake, but when you get right down to it, you hate the idea of actually baking or cooking it?
As the main cooks for our food allergy kiddos, we don’t have an option to drop the ball. If we don’t cook, our food allergy kid doesn’t eat. Store bought or take out foods are rarely an option. Sometimes this can leave us depleted and just plain sick and tired of not only thinking about WHATs for dinner, but the time consuming task of buying safe ingredients and making them into delicious dinners our kids will eat.
I’ve been in this boat WAY too many times. Throughout my 11 years as a food allergy mama, I’ve had various ebbs and flows. Near the beginning of our journey, when I was feeding my milk and egg allergy kiddo I first went through a stage of mourning for what we lost and how I would never be able to give her milk and cookies or my favourite buttercream icing.
After the mourning passed, I went through a stage of determination. I was going to find every allergy replacement there was and make every recipe I loved into something safe that she could eat. This lasted quite awhile, until I just got burnt out. Not only that, but more food allergies came our way and I was dealing with all new restrictions.
Our most recent restriction came about a year and a half ago. I felt like this was the tipping point for me. I just had to start finding ways to really help myself feel MOTIVATED to find and cook safe food.
Keep reading…. My FAVOURITE way is at the end!
7 Ways to get Motivated to Create Your Safe Allergy Eats Menu
1. Meal plan.
Meal planning is a form of “batching” or grouping your work. It allows you to do the work up front and re-use it so you’re not constantly re-doing the work every.single.day.
The benefit of meal planning is that the motivation to do it isn’t needed EVERY DAY. It’s needed much less often than if you were cooking on the fly. So although you don’t need to get motivated as often, you still need to find the gumption at least monthly. Unfortunately, you may get motivated to do it one month and then fall off the wagon the next.
When this happens, there are several strategies to get yourself motivated again. Here are a few ideas.
2. Set goals.
One way to get motivated is to set goals. Meal planning can really help you do that! But we aren’t always interested in setting goals. Why? It might be because we aren’t interested in them. For example, setting a goal of planning a month of dinners doesn’t sound very interesting; but maybe there’s something else that you’ll like more? For example: creating a meal plan every week in a month so I can use the time saved to go to the spa (or binge-watch This Is Us). To me this sounds a lot more interesting and enticing than the first goal.
3. Allow yourself to be creative and make meals without a recipe.
This one is best for meals and snacks because cooking is a bit more forgiving than baking. But they can both be done! Remember all my cooking skills are self learned (thanks Food Network). This means that if I can create my own recipes, anybody can! I talk about one of my methods for doing it in this blog post.
4. Make a routine.
When I get up every morning I have a simple routine. I do the same things every day. Visit the washroom, have a shower, put my make up on and do my hair. (No coffee isn’t in my morning routine, but I’m a huge BEAR if I don’t get it at lunch!) Anyway, I like to do the same routine every day, even on weekends.
It just helps me feel ready and get into the day.
Some days, my kids will bounce into my room and interrupt my routine somewhere along the way. When they were younger this happened OFTEN. Maybe they wanted breakfast or were arguing or something. An inturruption in my routine made me feel grouchy and irritable. Maybe not for the whole day but I definitely wouldn’t be as sunshiny that morning.
Because my routine was interrupted. Routines are often a source of comfort and they help us do things that we may not really want to do. By creating a routine around meal planning, you’ll start to get much more motivated to do it.
An example of a meal planning routine might be:
Plan to do it on the same day every month. On that day, make yourself your favourite drink or snack, and go to a place where you won’t be interrupted but have access to computer, planner, or whatever you need.
Then do it!
If you create the space in your calendar and a regular routine about HOW you do it, the routine will help pull you along.
5. Just start.
Once you’ve created your meal planning routine, start by doing something small. If we look at the example above, this means making your favourite drink and getting comfortable in your favourite meal planning spot. Once you do a small but easy first step you’ll start to get motivated by creating a bit of momentum.
So focus on the small step first and more motivation will come.
For example, the first step of my morning routine is going to the bathroom. This is easy to do (mostly because I can’t hold it anymore, lol), but after I’ve done that first step, I find it much easier to get into the rest of the routine instead of get back into bed.
6. Reward yourself.
The rewards of meal planning come pretty quick. If you spend the time on the weekend, you’ll start to see results by Monday. There’s nothing better than to say to yourself. What are we going to eat for dinner? Oh yeah, I can forget about that right now! Woohoo!
You can also reward yourself in bigger ways. Remember that spa day I mentioned in number 1?? Oh yassss! Do it!
By planning your meals you’ll be using less recipes which means you spend less time searching for them. If you spend 1-2 hours per month on finding new recipes, you’ll save 18 hours which is a WHOLE weekend of 9 hour days! I think that would fit 2 spa days perfectly!
Get into a group or class or even just find one other food allergy mama that wants easier mealtimes too.
There’s something magical about being a part of a group of moms that not only share and support but also work TOGETHER towards a similar goal. It’s the best form of encouragement and motivation there is!
Not only that, but doing it together allows you to talk about your goals and make them public. This means you’re WAY more likely to follow through to completion.
You can start a meal planning group by asking a few friends to join you. If you want to skip the hassle of creating your own, check out The Inspired Kitchen Membership. We’ll create our meal plans using reusable templates that you can use in the new year too and SO MUCH MORE. Find out more information here.
Motivation to meal plan can come and go but there are simple and practical ways to make sure you won’t lose interest. My personal favourite is doing it in a group of other food allergy mamas like the one I’ve created for you.
What about you? How do you get motivated to meal plan? What struggles are the hardest to overcome? Let us know in the comments!