Friday, February 22, 2013

Family Mission Friday: Meal Planning

Today we tackle one of the largest problems I hear so you never again stare at a pantry of odds and ends muttering to yourself "what can I make with 3 cans of tuna, ketchup, frozen carrots, and one potato?"

Meal planning isn't just for moms - it's a whole family activity.  There are a few different ways to tackle this.  If you have a small family, I recommend each member that eats be responsible for one day of menu planning - then Mom and Dad take the extra days.  If you have a larger family, consider using a 2 week or more "plan".  Start with just planning dinners and then let it grow to the rest of your day's foods.

Even your youngest children can plan.  If they're able to express what they like, they get a vote.  For "the smallest among you", try this.

Index cards
Photo Album
Glue/glue stick
Family artist and/or Google

Take a set of index cards and get your computer ready (or your artistic skills if you're braver than I!) and a set of markers.  You're going to have 4 categories of cards.  Starches, Veggies, Proteins, and Desserts.  Pick a color for each and "edge" the card by making lines around the outside so it can be quickly identified by category.  Attach a picture (or draw one right on the card) of the item and write the name.  So, for example, a card may look like this:

Once you have a wide variety of the ingredients your family loves, you start what can actually turn into a game.  Everyone gets "dealt" 2 proteins, 2 starches, 2 veggies, and 2 desserts.  They can then swap, trade, etc to create the meal they're aiming for.  So, if a child had the above "cards" he/she could make his/her meal Beef with Broccoli over steamed rice.

Take the photo album and slide the index cards into the day so you know what day is which.  Block out 5-6 "spots" per day based on your album's layout.  That gives you room to slide in a card with the recipe, a list of other ingredients you will need, etc. 

From this list, you make your grocery shopping list and then just go through the book and compile the meals.  :)

As children get older, you can change the cards to have the meals on them and have them actually make the meal that they've chosen.  Cooking skills never go out of style!

Get the whole family involved with meal planning.  This fun activity helps everyone feel included and reduces the chaos of trying to get dinner on the table every night. 

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