3 Steps to Make Dinner Easy and Reduce Dinnertime Anxiety

It’s time to make dinner and you have no idea what you are going to do. How many times has that happened? I wanted to make it easier for my nutrition clients to know not just what to eat but HOW to get it done, especially for dinner when things are really hectic. So I am writing this to share with them, and you, a How to Make Dinner Easy.

Why is Making Dinner so Difficult?

Let’s start with what caused this problem of what to make for dinner in the first place. If you are like me, and many of my clients, you aren’t at home with nothing to do all day. You are being pulled in multiple directions and everyday something new comes up that pulls your attention away.

Whether you are working late, kids’ have practice, or you just forgot to take the roast out of the freezer, we are not without reasons for not feeling like making dinner once we get home.

What Does your Diet Look Like on a Regular Basis?

When I meet with a potential client I always ask about their diet. I ask them what their diet looks like on a regular basis, and then add, more specifically, what did you eat yesterday?

99 out of 100 times when I ask that question, the person inevitably responds with – Well…. yesterday was a weird day.

Then people start rattling off all of the things that happened that day that threw them off.

I don’t mean to sound flippant. I believe them. Things happen, shit hits the fan! Work, family, friends, kids, as great as all of those people are and how much we care, they find ways to need you and your time which gets in the way when you want to make dinner easy.

Keep this in mind: If every day is a weird day, and that pattern continues, you have relinquished control and you are no longer in charge of your own life. Therefore this cycle will continue and you will continue to react to circumstances instead of plan those circumstances.

This goes for food, fitness, goals, anything. You are the only one that has the power to change. You cannot change anyone else.

Why We Need a Plan – Step 1

One of the first things I work on with my nutrition clients is creating a plan for the week.

When you have a plan, you can execute on it. And yes, you will still have things that come up, but we execute on our plan in chunks of dedicated time on the weekends, and then the time you need to make dinner easy during the week, gets exceptionally less stressful.

When you don’t have a plan, you haven’t accomplished anything to set yourself up for success, or if you have accomplished things without a plan, it’s certainly not going to be consistent. And consistency is key.

You know the old saying, Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail. That saying has been around forever, and will continue to be just as true then as it is now. You have to stop fighting it and start doing it.

We are here to make it easier on you.

How to Fill in the NHF 7 Day Meal Planning Template?

We start by taking our Northglenn Health and Fitness 7 Day Meal Planning Template and we fill in 21 boxes. Each box represents a plan for what we will eat during that meal on that day.

Now this doesn’t mean we expect you to eat perfect each week, in fact, we suggest otherwise.

If you plan on never eating sugar again, then don’t put sugar in your plan. But if you plan on improving your diet by making incremental changes – then add that into your plan. If you take your daughter to Chik Fil A once a week, you can do that – but write it in your plan. If you are ready to cut out Chik Fil A, then plan something different.

Read more about making incremental changes vs restrictive dieting in something I wrote previously.

So you understand what the purpose of the plan is, how to fill in the tracker and now let’s get into the next step of making this process easy.

What Are the Best Foods to Include in My Meal Plan – Step 2

Nutritional values of food varies, but it’s important to not label food as “Good” or “Bad” because that can add to a restrictive view on what you should or shouldn’t eat.

The best foods for you depend on your goals AND how you are eating now. We don’t expect anyone to go from eating mostly off of the “Eat Less” list, to solely eating off of the “Eat More” list in one swoop. Again, not sustainable, therefore it won’t be consistent.

Consistency is key.

Oh, what is an “Eat Less” list or an “Eat More” list? Take a look below.

Eat More of these Foods (than you did last week)

When you fill your boxes with foods from this you know you are getting minimally processed sources of protein, carbohydrates, and whole food fats.

You might notice a few of your favorites missing from this list. They might be found in the next sections, so keep on reading.

By the way, yes Vegetables are carbs and you don’t see them listed on the “Eat More Carbs” list because…. well, they are so good for you that they deserve their own section and they are unlimited! Eat all the vegetables you like! You’ll find a rainbow of vegetables later in this article.

Eat Less of these Foods (than you did last week)

These foods are the most commonly consumed foods when we don’t have a plan.

They are less nutrient dense, high in calories but they do serve a purpose at the end of the day. The purpose isn’t about your physical health. But they might help your mental health on nights where there has been no plan executed on and eating is more preferential than not eating.

Or of course parties, celebrations, etc.

Just eat less than you did the week before and eventually your tastebuds change (they really do) and you’ll get a more valuable diet for your goals and your longevity!

Eat Some of These Foods (optional)

You might see things on this list that you are surprised about.

Again, not saying to not eat these foods but there are factors about each food that may make it less helpful for your diet than others on the Eat More list.

For example – protein powders. They have their place IF you are making your best effort to get “real” protein in your diet. Protein powders are a supplement, and should be used just as the name suggests. Get your protein in from real food and then supplement with protein powders if needed.

Eat a Rainbow of Vegetables

The best things to know here is to try to get a variety of these vegetables into your diet each week. An easy way to get a variety is to focus on a variety of colors. Each color represents different nutrients and has health benefits for your body.

Follow through on Your Plan – Step 3

You filled out your planner, you filled it with the foods that makes sense for where you are currently and where you want to head. Now comes the hard part for some.

Scheduling the time to take action on the plan.

You can’t expect to be home on time each evening in order to start shopping, prepping and cooking the food that is on your plan.

A lot of the steps to ensure that dinner is on your plate each evening, happen well before the alarm goes off that day.

Take your weekend and schedule out time to plan, shop, and prep what you need for future days in the week.

Yes it will take time during your weekend, but I guarantee you that time will be so much better spent when you stack it against the stress you put on your body and mind during the week scrounging to come up with the “best” solution each evening. The time you save during the week and the stress you save on your body will more than make up for the time you spend on the weekends.

It does take commitment. And follow through.

Following through on your commitments to yourself.

If you don’t follow through on your plan, you are only hurting yourself. So it’s easy to stay in the mindset, well so and so needs me but I am supposed to be doing this instead. I guess I’m not going to eat well again this week.

It is very easy to let yourself go and help everyone else around you. Holding yourself accountable, or lacking the ability to do so, is the #1 reason people seek out nutrition coaching.

The tools you need to make your health and fitness goals a reality are all available to you.

Information alone isn’t the answer is what we quickly learn. We need to take action, and often times the fastest way to take action is to hire a coach.


Try this and if you stick to this for 4 weeks in a row. You plan, you choose good foods, you follow through on taking action on your plan without letting anyone get in your way then you will be golden.

If you try this and start to trail off into old behaviors and start to find yourself making excuses – no matter how valid those excuses seem at the time – then set up a 10 minute chat with me and let’s stop wasting time and start getting you on track so you can live the life you want IN the body you want.

I am ready when you are! Until then, keep reading my blog and keep taking action!

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