The Reluctant Cook… Benefits of Menu Planning

Oh how I loathe to cook. And these days, as the sun shines brighter and longee, I just want to stay outside, soaking up my vitamin D.  But alas, life calls and children need to be fed and neither my wallet nor my sensibilities can go out to dinner that often.  And so I cook.

Just like you, I’m busy and have a thousand other things I’d rather do than cook a meal.  It would just be so much easier to order in or pick up a pre-made meal from Trader Joe’s.  However, I have found that if I sit down and plan the week’s menu in conjunction with my grocery list it takes some of the anxiety of figuring out what to cook.  But because I like to complicate things a bit I was planning a completely different menu every single week! So I would spend what seemed like hours scouring Pinterest and food blogs and cook books trying to come up with multiple flavor combos that everyone would enjoy.  Seriously?  That is just silly.  If I’m menu planning to spend less time worrying about meals why am I then taking all the extra time and spending it on planning meals?

So finally I decided it was enough.  The truth of the matter is this, I am not blessed with children who love their vegetables and never ask for ice cream.  Many a night a plate has been pushed away with the comment of, “This is gross,” or in the case of the 2 year old, “No like it!” This of course frustrated and angered me, that I spent all that time creating that menu and meal.  So I decided to stop.  Not the cooking of course, but menu planning like I was Martha Stewart having Jay Z and Beyonce over for dinner. (But oh, what a menu that would be!)

Now we have 5 set nights a week.  I cook the same 5 things.  I allow the kids to have their night (Homemade mac and cheese coupled with soup or some kind of a protein. And yes, I do put cauliflower or broccoli into the mac and cheese.) And the other nights I do dishes everyone more or less likes.  The other two nights are what I call “wildcard” nights.  Those are the nights that I try a new recipe, or we go out, or we MacGyver a meal by throwing together whatever is in the pantry.  I also have started making a simple side salad with each meal.  This allows us to have even more veggies and the homemade salad dressing has lots of raw garlic which is good for our immune systems.

The benefits of this kind of menu planning are massive.  First, my grocery list is put together much faster, as is my actual shopping.  Second, I spend a lot less time figuring out food.  Third, my husband can make dinner the nights I can’t because its something we eat regularly and there are no surprises, no “Honey, how do I do this?” Fourth, my kids complain a lot less. And fifth, the meals are prepared fairly quickly because you know exactly what to do, thus saving you more time in your day.

You can do this.  Just sit and think about the meals you know everyone will enjoy and that are easy enough to cook in limited time.   One of our favorite nights is breakfast for dinner.  I find this one especially awesome on those days when you get home late, and everyone is cranky, and you just have to get food on the table.  We usually make a frittata on those nights which we pair with fingerling potatoes and a side salad.  But you can make it as simple as scrambled eggs and pancakes.

Courtney's Spinach & Goat Cheese Frittata

Spinach and Goat Cheese Frittata

Spinach and Goat Cheese Frittata (recipe adapted from Real Simple Magazine)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • salt and pepper
  • about 6 cups or 5 oz baby spinach
  • 10 large eggs, beaten
  • crumbled goat cheese (you can try feta as well)


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in an ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add onions and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the onions turn golden brown
  • Add the spinach and cook until wilted
  • Add in the beaten eggs
  • Add in the goat cheese
  • Mix it all up and cook until it begins to set around the edges (1-2 mins)
  • Transfer to oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.

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About the Author: Courtney Abrams is a Health Coach and Founder of Roslyn Wellness. Trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she helps clients work within the realities of their day to day lives to find ways to make small and manageable changes to their health that can maintained over time. Her clients include people trying to lose weight, beat sugar, increase their energy, cook simple healthful food and reduce stress to name a few. She also shares a passion for food policy and educating people about the foods they are eating and the governmental role behind much of it. You can learn more about Courtney and Roslyn Wellness at

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