Take the Stress out of Dinner Time with These Sanity-Saving Tips for Kid-Friendly Meal Planning!
Every parent knows the dinner time struggle. After running around all day you finally get home and then you still have to tackle the “what’s for dinner” dilemma. Sound familiar?
Read on for some tried and true tips and tricks to on how to plan, prep, shop, and cook your way to an enjoyable and relaxing dinner time that the whole family will enjoy.
Meal planning may seem daunting-especially to those with children-but once you get into the habit, planning ahead truly does make weeknight meal times so much easier.
A few steps and some great planning tools will have you planning meals like a pro in no time.
First, make meal planning a habit by choosing one day of the week as your meal plan day. A lot of people choose Saturday as their meal planning day which leaves them time on Sunday to shop and pre-prep.
Second, when you are planning your meals for the week, consider your calendar. Schedule easy or prep ahead meals for your busiest days and anything that takes a bit more time for days when you have a little wiggle room.
Third: dinner doesn’t have to be an elaborate meal every night. I’m always amused with themed nights menus as if we were some Food Network chef. Keep it simple and create a list of staples you and your family love.
For example, I’m originally from Brazil where every meal included rice, beans, meat, and a veggie. Nothing fancy and I stick to it to this day. It not only makes my life simpler, but it also keeps my grocery list consistent and the cost of food much lower.
Finally, give yourself a break from cooking one or two days a week by planning an eat out or take out dinner, and then dedicate one dinner to leftovers.
Another thing to keep in mind is this: young kids, who are notoriously picky eaters, are more excited about dinner time if you get them involved in the process. Ask them for favorites, and schedule in a few things into the menu that you are comfortable letting them help you make.
Once you have your menu planned, go through each meal and make a list of the ingredients you need. Then, fill in your shopping list with additional necessities you need at home. Ideally, meal planning will allow you to make fewer trips to the grocery store. Phew!
Like meal planning, it’s a good idea to set aside the same day each week as your prep day. Some people like Sunday for their meal prep day.
Once you get back from shopping and putting your groceries away, you can look at your menu and see what you can prep ahead for the upcoming week.
A good place to start with prepping is washing, peeling, and chopping any vegetables. While you’re at it, wash your fruit as well so it's easy for your family to grab and go for lunches and snacks.
You can also go ahead and cook and portion out meals that will be lunches for the week. If your meals have any sauces, you can make these ahead of time as well.
Don’t forget to get the kiddos involved in this step as well. Littles will be more inclined to eat their veggies when reminded they are the same ones they helped prep on Sunday.
Final Helpful Tips and Tricks:
Here are a few more tips for meal planning with kids. No one wants to make three different dinners, and this quickly becomes a habit when we are trying to get our little ones to eat something.
These little tweaks will help you get one meal on the table every night that makes everyone happy.
● Divide and conquer. A lot of kids don’t like the ingredients in their dinner mixed together-carrots touching chicken-the horror! Save yourself the hassle of making an extra meal by deconstructing your meals before you put it all together. If you are making a chicken casserole before you put everything together to bake, separate out some chicken, some starch, and some vegetables for your kiddos.
● Try to keep foods you feel your kids may turn away to one-to-two items. This way you know they will eat some part of dinner, and they will enjoy dinner time more knowing there will always be a couple of dishes they like to eat awaiting them.
These tips for planning, prepping, and shopping will seriously transform your weeknight dinnertime game! For more tips, tricks, and planning tools check out our game-changing Home organizing Library and Planner!