You guys. I am BUSTING with excitement today!

Remember the lovely Caroline, who did the (probably one and only) sewing DIY guest post here a few months back? We were chatting recently about her family mealtime challenges, and concluded that she is probably not alone, and wouldn’t it be fun to do a series of posts where I (hopefully!) help her overcome some of those struggles?

We say, “YES”!

fresh produce

We started by having this conversation:

Caroline: So Sheri, I have this issue. I can definitely follow directions in the kitchen and pull off most recipes I read, but I often find that I am overwhelmed. After 7 years of being a mom to this crew, I still can’t quite master meal planning. I need your help. Can you point me in the right direction?

Sheri: Why is it that meal planning is always so stressful? Putting food on the table should be relatively easy, yet for most of us “getting there” is a challenge. What would you say are the areas of improvement that you need the most help with? Let’s start with your “top 3-5” and we’ll take it from there!

Caroline: I totally agree, Sheri! I grew up in an Italian American family where food and cooking “with love” was so important. Even admitting that I am struggling has been a challenge! And maybe perhaps because the bar was set so high that I feel like anything I do isn’t good enough? For example, I remember my Papa cooking in the kitchen all day long and the food was always amazing! 

So, that’s just the emotional side of it. The practical side is that I often have trouble with meal planning. But I have noticed when I make this a priority and focus on our food, everyone is so much happier. 

So, if I had to narrow it down I would say here are my top 3 challenges:

1. Meal Planning. You know, I’ve never asked other busy mothers if they really plan the meals or wing it. How far in advance do I need to plan them? Should I add lots and lots of variety or should I just rotate the favorite family meals every few weeks? 

2. I also have trouble with timing. I mean, I tend to always start dinner too late. Are there any tricks that will help me not feel like I am rushing? I know in chatting with you before I’ve heard you reference how you prepare things a little here and there. I’d love to know some of your tips for getting it all pulled together!

3. How much do I prepare for each meal? Do I make just enough for one meal for all of us or cook more than enough for leftovers? I have a friend who cooks for the entire week on Sundays but I wonder what you would think are the pros and cons of this? 

Sheri: These are great goals Caroline! And I think that I can help with all of them. Let’s start with meal planning, as that’s the first step to overcoming all 3 challenges. I’ll come up with a plan of action, and then you can spend a week or two implementing. Sound good?

In the coming weeks we will share with you – on both of our blogs – strategies to help Caroline overcome her struggles and achieve her goals. She’ll then put those plans in motion and report back – hopefully with great success!

We’re also eager, as always, for your input. Specifically, what are your biggest challenges in planning and executing meals for your family? Share them here!

And stay tuned….

For more of Caroline’s thoughts on the subject, read today’s post on her blog!



  1. Megan on January 4, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Great idea guys! I’m especially interested in hearing your response Sheri to #2!

    • sherisilver on January 4, 2013 at 9:21 am

      Thanks Megan – you’ll love the ideas for #2 – especially with your new baby! xo

  2. Caroline on January 4, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Yes, Megan, that’s been a big one for me–timing. I think this series is going to resonate with SO many people. I know I’m not alone. We’re just amazingly fortunate to have Sheri to guide us! I’m dying with excitement!!

    #MealtimeBootcamp is here!

  3. jen on January 4, 2013 at 10:42 am

    this is so great! one can always use more tips!!!

    • sherisilver on January 4, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Thanks Jen – I hope this is useful (and fun!) for everyone! 🙂

  4. stacy on January 4, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I’m so excited for this! I need help with all 3 of those myself. I find I can plan fine one week and then be way off course the next, I get overwhelmed and then start winging it.

    • sherisilver on January 4, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Yay! Hope this helps you! 🙂

  5. Cindy Kamm on January 4, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    I have found that keeping certain staples on hand makes it easy to prepare dinner at the last minute, which is frequently my style. This includes some fresh ingredients like ginger, basil, mint, lemons and garlic, but also some pantry staples like diced tomatoes, cannelini & other beans & spices. I do try to defrost whatever form of protein I will be cooking, but if I forget I alway keep frozen uncooked shrimp in the freezer which defrosts in minute!

    • sherisilver on January 4, 2013 at 10:29 pm

      Love these – especially the shrimp idea; thanks! 🙂

  6. allison carmen on January 4, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    I am looking forward to these posts!

    • sherisilver on January 4, 2013 at 10:29 pm

      Thank you so much! 🙂

  7. Sue on January 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    I have many of the same challenges Caroline does, and I look forward to finding some solutions with the two of you!


    • sherisilver on January 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      Yay! Stay tuned! 🙂

  8. Lisa on January 5, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Sheri & Caroline – I’m so excited about this Mealtime Bootcamp. Having more homemade meals is one of our resolutions for 2013, and we definitely need some help! So, so glad you’re doing this – I couldn’t imagine a better teacher =)

    • sherisilver on January 6, 2013 at 7:39 am

      Thanks Lisa – I hope you find this useful – we’re excited too! xo

  9. Erin on January 7, 2013 at 10:45 am

    When do we get to read your ideas for fixing these mealtime dilemmas?!??

    • sherisilver on January 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      We’re going to post weekly – on Fridays – so just a few more days!

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