The other night, I went to make dinner after a very busy afternoon out, and realized that most dreaded of mistakes. The meal plan on the fridge said “Roast beef”.

The large roast was sitting downstairs. In the freezer. Frozen solid. Did I mention it was 5pm?

Despite my best intentions (like planning for meal prep and trying to look regularly at my meal plan throughout the week), mistakes still happen. Meat doesn’t come out of the freezer. We forgot to buy pasta at the store. We accidentally used all of the broccoli in a dish earlier that week and now there isn’t enough for the Broccoli Cheese Soup we’ve planned.

Obviously, the point of all this meal planning is to try to prevent these kind of situations. By and large, it works. Sometimes, things slip through the cracks, often because of our own oversight or because of unexpected events.

At this point, it might be tempting to throw in the towel and say “why bother?”, but I don’t think that’s necessary. Meal plans can be forgiving creatures in various ways, and mistakes can be overcome.

Here are a few options to consider if (or rather when!) you find yourself in a meal planning bind:

1. Switch meals.

Just because I’ve overlooked the fact that the roast I planned to cook needs an entire day to defrost doesn’t mean that dinner is now mission impossible. There may be other days in my meal plan where I’ve planned a vegetarian meal, a dish using some pre-cooked chicken from the freezer or canned salmon from the pantry, or maybe a sausage-based dish that requires 30 minutes, not 24 hours, to get the meat sufficiently thawed.

I know, I’ve said it a thousand times at least, but a meal plan needs to work for YOU, and not the other way around.

If you need to switch a meal with one that’s intended for a different day, just do it. You can always make that roast tomorrow instead. I won’t tell if you won’t.

2. Make something different.

What if it’s Friday already and neither the Saturday or Sunday dinner options will come together easily at this point?

Just throw the meal plan out the window and make an impromptu meal. Check the fridge for something that you happen to have available and get a little creative.

For example, I had some cooked chicken and chicken broth in the fridge that I hadn’t bagged up and frozen yet. With them, I created a random chicken and veggie pasta dish (with cheese on top, which covers a multitude of sins). It wasn’t the most amazing thing we’ve ever eaten, but hey, it was dinner and it was nutritious and they even went back for seconds. Works for me!

3. Make a super simple meal.

There is nothing nutritionally wrong with a wholesome plate of eggs and toast for dinner. Or a bowl of yogurt with fruit and nuts. Or a grilled cheese sandwich (if made with real food ingredients) and some dill pickles. Or some organic popcorn with butter and nutritional yeast, paired with a fruit smoothie (my kid’s personal favorite).

I’m not saying we should eat like this every night, not at all. But every once in a while? Go ahead and don’t feel guilty about it.

4. Raid the fridge for leftovers.

Sometimes there is a meal lurking in your fridge and you didn’t even realize it. I occasionally plan “leftover night” when I know that the fridge has been building up with bits and pieces of various meals. This can also work on some occasions when you’re in a pinch for quick meal.

I find the best way to make use of them is to create a leftover buffet or smorgasbord. Dig through the fridge for everything you can find (big or small). Spread it out on the counter. Heat up the toaster oven, pull out a pot and pan, and start heating up various combinations of the available food. Let family members choose what they want their meal to consist of, out of the options given, heat it up and serve it. It’s fast, it cleans out your fridge, and it fills up tummies with remnants of other decent meals you’ve made!

5. If all else fails, take the night off, and announce a family dinner out, BUT…

We probably resort to this option about twice a year, usually when I have a terrible, very bad, no good day. My husband will sense my stress level and kindly decide that going out for dinner is worth Mommy’s sanity, and we ultimately have a really pleasant family night out.

Here’s where the BUT comes in, and it applies to all of the above options…

Pick up your menu plan where you left off, the very next day.

No guilt trips allowed. No telling yourself that you’ve screwed it up or that there’s no point.

Simply cross off the missed meal (or a different meal, if you still really prefer to make that particular meal) and move forward. Faithful meal planning doesn’t make dinner time (or any other meal time) perfect, but it does make it that much better and it’s worth it to just pick up where we left off and try again.

Our Menu Plan for the Week



  • Breakfast: Eggs, toast and fruit smoothie
  • Dinner: Quesadillas with pinto beans (mine will be a wrap with veggies, since I can’t have cheese), sauerkraut, sour cream.


  • Breakfast: French toast and fruit sauce
  • Dinner: Roast beef sandwiches (using leftover roast beef), homemade pickles, raw vegetables.
  • Prep: Soak oatmeal.


  • Breakfast: Soaked oatmeal with raw milk and honey (I’ll do mine with some fruit and cinnamon since I can’t have honey right now)
  • Dinner: Rice with leftover pinto beans, steamed cauliflower.
  • Prep: Thaw chicken. Soak brown rice.


  • Breakfast: Omelet with sausages and veggies (but not cheese for me and the toddler)
  • Dinner: Coconut-breaded chicken, brown rice, oven roasted veggies (potatoes, carrots, beets)
  • Prep: Thaw broth.


  • Breakfast: Breakfast wraps
  • Dinner: Lentil Vegetable Soup


  • Breakfast: Granola with yogurt/milk and fruit
  • Dinner: Fish cakes (Nourishing Traditions recipe), yam/potato fries, green salad.

It’s your turn to share your menu with the rest of us! And I would love to know… what do you do when you mess up your meal plan?