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Why You Can’t Decide on Dinner

Stephanie Golub
May 24, 2022

When you finish running a marathon of errands or your 9 to 5 workday, the age-old daily dilemma comes into the rearview: What’s for Dinner? Even the thought of Googling a recipe, grocery shopping, prepping, and cooking can feel exhausting. 

That’s what makes drive-thru windows or pizza parlors even more appetizing. But which fast food joint? And when you arrive at that answer…is it going to be a double cheeseburger or spicy chicken sandwich?! Choices this tasty shouldn’t be so taxing.

Decision fatigue is real—especially when it comes to dinnertime. 

Decision Fatigue: Defined 

Psychiatrist Lisa MacLean defines decision fatigue as “the state of mental overload that can impede a person’s ability to continue making decisions.” Oof, we’ve all been there. When someone is faced with the idea of making many decisions, they might feel more drained, experience brain fog, and have physical and mental fatigue. The more decisions you have to make… you get the gist. As anxiety ramps up, the key symptoms tend to rear their ugly heads: procrastination, impulsivity, avoidance, and indecision. This whole cycle is also known as ego depletion, and doesn’t discriminate against big or small decisions. 

Why Dinner is a Hard Decision 

Picking an entrée at a restaurant should be a seemingly easy task. But as soon as you pick up that manifesto of a menu, the choice overload kicks in. Colin Camerer, a professor of behavior economics at the California Institute of Technology, explains that as the number of choices increase, so does the potential risk and reward. The brain struggles to juggle similar options that could deliver very different outcomes. Soup or salad? Chicken or steak? So goes the game. 

How to Alleviate Meal-Related Stress 

Mapping out your meals beforehand is a great way to get ahead of the suppertime scaries. Start by writing down your dishes at the beginning of each week. If you’re feeling stuck, try switching it up with themed nights, like meatless Monday or taco Tuesday (bring on the guac!). When dinner approaches, you’ll be perfectly prepared— even before the hanger hits! Another fantastic way to avoid the whole ordeal is to order meals made for you. With prep off your plate, you can finally unwind and avoid any pre-dinner panic. 

We could all use one less choice to make. If you’re looking for a low-stress Monday to Sunday, we deliver fully-prepared dishes fresh to your door. With gluten-free options, plant-based dishes, and carb-conscious meals all ready to eat in minutes, you won’t need to think twice about dinner. Take that walk, Facetime a friend, or binge the next season of your fave show! 

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Why You Can’t Decide on Dinner