Member Log In

Meal Planning That Works for My ADHD Brain

family home

I tried every strategy in the world to feed my family and finally found a system that actually works well for me.

I do one big monthly meal prep for the entire month and it's been life changing for me.

It's helped me to lower our monthly expenses in a huge way as groceries were always my biggest struggle in terms of budgeting and spending.

I have fewer decisions to make on a daily and weekly basis and dinner time is so much less stressful.

It might sound daunting my brain really likes challenge so having that one big push to prep meals for the freezer is really rewarding and energizing for me.

I've found in so many cases that what seems harder to others is actually easier for my ADHD brain.

I've been doing this for almost four years and I've definitely fine tuned my process along the way.

Here is the basics of how I do monthly meal prep.

1. I do one massive shop at BJs, Costco and Walmart.

I order my BJs and Walmart orders online and then go to Costco to get a few things there. We joined BJs a few years ago when we didn't have a Costco close by and now I absolutely love it. The bulk of my order comes from BJs as their stock is really reliable and I like that their sizes are smaller. Where I live, Costco and BJs are across the street from each other so I do the pick-up and the Costco shop on one day which I plan in advance and block out on my calendar. Target is across the street so if I need anything from there, I schedule that pick up then as well. I usually take a few days to update the order on my phone and then it takes me around 2 hours total leaving my house to do all of those errands.

Planning pickups helps me to be spend less and since I know I'll be spending a lot of money on this one day, I am very careful about extra purchases. I try and keep these two orders to less than $500 and I've gotten very strategic about what exactly I buy.

I also place an order to Walmart for a few things like cheese and condiments that I need in smaller quantities.

If doing this once a month feels daunting or hard on cash flow, you can also break it up in to two shopping trips. But if you can swing on BIG shop for the month, it's going to change your life.

I do often do a small walmart order on a weekly basis for any produce that I will need.

Click Here to Join BJs Warehouse Club

2. I found a rotation of meals that works well for my family.

I spent some time finding a meal rotation that would work for my family on an ongoing basis. I spent weeks on pinterest and looking through my recipes and then testing recipes to identify a list of 10-20 dinner recipes that met a few basic criteria.

  • My three kids would consistently eat the meals without complaining or requiring me to make extra meals. 
  • I actually wanted to make them and eat them consistently. 
  • They could be easily modified to accommodate any preferences or alllergies.
  • Clean meals that are also hgh in protein.
  • Freeze well
  • Minimal prep as well as easy to cook and clean up. 

Once I had a rotation of meals that gave us enough variety that we didn't get bored. planning the monthly shopping list was pretty easy.

3. The rotation mostly stays the same.

If I was trying to do this process from scratch every month, that would be overwhelming. I definitely don't do that! In fact, this rotation doesn't change much from month to month. If we are getting sick of something, I will swap that recipe for something out. There are also a few things that I like to make in certain seasons. For the most part, the rotation stays the same which makes the ongoing planning really easy. It's also allowed me to tweak and improve my process over time. 

Click Here to Get My Meal Rotation + Shopping List

4. I don't try to stick to a schedule.

As I'm prepping meals, I plan out how many dinners I will need for the month. My goal is to have meals prepped for 24 dinners. That usually breaks down to 4 taco nights, 4 pasta nights, 4 grill out nights, 4 burger/sandwich nights, 4 sheet pan nights. Sure, I have a rough plan of when we eat what but if we are crazing burgers on Tuesdays than we make burgers. I pull a few things out of the freezer at the beginning of the week and don't stress about having to eat them on the specific day we planned. I can also pull something out the morning of if our plans have changed.

Additionally, most of my meals can easily adapt. For example, normally I use the turkey taco meat to make turkey tacos but I can also make taco salads or nachos or whatever random recipe I saw that day on Instagram with turkey taco meat. I don't need to buy new things but I still have a plan to feed my family.

5. I keep vegetables on the side.

I can't tell you how many meals that I've made over the years that my kids won't eat. It's really frustrating but I've learned that if a recipe has vegetables mixed in, my kids will likely not eat it. And since my kids need to eat and I am not a fan of wasting food or making multiple dinners, I'd much rather make something that they will actually eat. Keeping vegetables on the side means my kids eat real food and they are more likely to try the vegetables on the side in a known quantity. I've learned that sneaking vegetables into things always backfires.

I usually serve a side salad, roasted vegetables or optional vegetable toppings alongside the main meal.

6. I plan for low energy nights.

If you are new here, you will find that this is a pretty common thread. I plan for low energy days in every area of my life and especially with meal planning. At least one night a week, I have zero energy to prepare anything so part of my monthly shop includes stocking up on frozen pizzas. I buy these pizzas for the kids and these for me and my husband. We have frozen pizza once a week and it usually corresponds to family movie night. I also usually buy one other quick meal to keep in the freezer like frozen chicken wings or orange chicken.

7. I accommodate within reason.

Every member of our family of 5 is neurodivergent and has unique preferences around taste, texture, and temperature of food. It can get really complicated to accommodate all of these needs. Most families take one of two extremes (accommodating everyone or accommodating no one) but I take a more middle of the road approach.

My kids preferences fo matter to me which is one of the main reasons why I've been so intentional to create a meal rotation that (most) of my kids like. I don't make three different dinners because most of our meals are very kid friendly and I do ask for feedback on a regular basis. Instead, if one child doesn't want that particular meal they can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or heat up some leftovers if that is an option.

If I make something that I know one of my kids really doesn't like, I will be more generous with options for them. For example, if I make salmon for my husband and I, I'll usually make chicken tenders for the kids. If I make a spicier dish that I'm craving, I might make mac and cheese for them. But those cases aren't the norm.

I will also provide accommodations as I'm able to meet preferences. For example, everyone in our family loves tacos and it's a weekly staple. Two of us like soft tacos and three others prefer crunchy tacos. I warm the meat up on a skillet and serve the two soft tacos and then mix in a can of beans and put that in crunchy taco shells that go in the oven. It's a tiny bit more work but just barely and my kids really appreciate that effort. If I don't have the energy or time to make two kinds of tacos, I let them know that and there are very few grumbles because they know that I can when I can.

Mostly, I've learned to embrace what works for MY FAMILY and let go of what everyone else is doing.

My system might not work for you but give yourself grace and time to find what does work for you.

For step by step help starting monthly meal planning, get Mastering Dinner Time. I share my shopping list, my favorite recipes and tips for starting monthly meal prep.

Click Here to Get Mastering Dinner Time




Essential Tools to Thrive in Motherhood with ADHD

Get this e-book for a quick overview of what you can do today to help you and your kids thrive.

Get the Newsletter

Get on my newsletter list so you don't miss out on new blogs and video trainings.