My wife hates my meal planning – I’m fed up, hungry and broke

'Every week we end up with a hasty dash to M&S food hall, rapidly dropping £30 on a different option'
'Every week we end up with a hasty dash to M&S food hall, rapidly dropping £30 on a different option'

Like lots of families up and down the country, the eternal question of “what shall we have for dinner?” is a daily head-scratcher in our house. Fed up with mulling over the usual repertoire of family meals then hastily cooking whatever we had in the fridge each evening, we started weekly meal planning.

To me, this was a no-brainer. Dinners are agreed and ingredients bought ahead of time saving us time and energy and endless debate. We even have the week’s meals outlined on a noticeboard. Obviously, there’s room to tweak the plan or even splash out on a takeaway every now and again. I think it’s an efficient system which – crucially – means we experience less indecision and hanger. But my wife has made it clear she doesn’t share my enthusiasm for the meal-planning method.

You can set your watch by it. Every week, we reach Wednesday, and my wife wrinkles her nose when she glances at the noticeboard in the kitchen and clocks what we’ll be eating that night… It doesn’t matter whether it’s a chicken curry or a slow-cooked speciality, she’ll claim she doesn’t fancy it. We end up with a hasty dash to M&S food hall, rapidly dropping £30 on a different option. This happens on Thursday too, then Friday.

Last-minute meals also lead to fraying tempers as we all get progressively hungrier and dinner time slips later and later as whoever has been dispatched to buy food tries to please everyone.

We both work full time so there isn’t enough time to re-work the week’s menu each time my wife is unenthused midweek. I know she’d prefer a more spontaneous approach to weeknight dinners – who wouldn’t – but with work, kids, their homework and clubs, working from a plan seems the best option.

I think my wife is making an unnecessary fuss. To me, the evening meal doesn’t need to be a gourmet experience seven nights a week. At the weekend, I love taking the time to source fish or meat and prep a sauce. But Monday to Friday, we don’t have the luxury of spare hours and it’s about cooking something straightforward and nutritious that our hungry kids will like. I’m also not keen on the message we are giving our son and daughter, that you can make a fuss and then you’ll end up getting what you want.

By turning her nose up at the spaghetti Bolognese or fajitas we’ve pre-planned, my wife complicates the whole system and it’s really starting to irritate me. We haven’t got the lifestyle for spontaneous, exciting new dishes like we did in our 20s. Nor do we want to cook separate meals for the children then get back in the kitchen later on for our own meal: we did this when the kids were younger, but it results in eating too late, more food shopping and a mountain of dirty pans.

I’m trying hard not to let my confusion spill into frustration. By taking control of the meal planning, I was trying to take on some of the domestic workload she complains so much about. A lot has been said in the past about how women get landed with all the domestic stuff on top of professional work: I’m doing my best to be supportive here.

I feel like I’m doing my fair share but when my wife rejects my food ideas, my workload increases and I’m the one who doesn’t feel appreciated. Throw kids clamouring for dinner into the mix, plus my own growling stomach and it’s a recipe for disaster.