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Planning Family Meals

January 4, 2009

I haven’t been keeping up with my blog reading over the holidays, but seeing Carissa’s post on New Year’s Resolutions got me thinking about a new nutrition post.

Her resolution to plan weekly meals for family to ensure that everyone sits down for a meal together is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Children who eat at the family table are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables, less likely to be overweight or obese, and are also more likely to develop language and interpersonal skills at an accelerated rate.

Planning meals for a week isn’t difficult—it just takes 20-30 minutes to sit down and make a list. I typically choose one recipe source—such as a favorite cookbook or website—as an inspiration. For my post, I am using the Kraft Foods website: it is an easy to use site that features lots of pictures and recipes organized by nutrient content, ease of preparation, or even ingredients in your pantry.

Next, think about the week ahead—what will you be doing? Which days do you have time to spend in the kitchen and which days are going to be hectic? For example, Morgan has speech therapy one afternoon a week and I try to plan something very easy on that day. I might use leftovers from the night before or a frozen item like tortellini with marinara to make a quick meal.

Also think about foods that your family enjoys—I try to balance foods that I enjoy with things that Jeremy likes and then add a few unknowns. That way I can be sure that I won’t end of with a week of unpopular and unfamiliar meals.

Last, think of variety. It’s easy to make an entire week’s menu out of chicken or an entire menu out of casseroles—but you can get bored with the same foods and textures very easily! I try to incorporate a weekly vegetarian meal as well as a balance of lean proteins and grains.

Monday: Cheesy Chicken and Salsa Skillet with fresh fruit salad
Tuesday: Pork Medallions with Cranberry Stuffing with green salad
Wednesday: Fiesta Chopped Salad with dinner roll
Thursday: Spinach stuffed portablello mushrooms with rustic bread salad
Friday: Tropical Salsa Burgers with baked sweet potato spears

The Kraft Foods website will give you nutrition information for your recipes as well as print a grocery list for you to bring to the store. I keep a binder at home full of my favorites so that I can grab a page and head to the store for a quick last minute meal.

You might even try making a cycle menu for your family—by planning out 3-5 weeks in advance and then repeat at the end of each cycle. This is a great way to use seasonal foods and you can plan ahead. It’s also easy to break the monotony by changing 1-2 meals each week for variety.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dawn permalink
    January 4, 2009 9:17 pm

    THANK YOU…I love that you are including recipes now. That is the hardest part of meal planning…coming up with the ideas. Would you consider posting your opinions on how the recipe came out, and any changes you made??Thank you

  2. abc123vn permalink
    January 8, 2009 5:28 am

    Thanks! Wait for the end of the week – but I am actually doing it and I am going to try the six week rotation eventually so that we can buy a few more foods in bulk! I am SOOOOO excited about actually doing this as well as for cooking again (I eat a lot less when I do the cooking.)

  3. Kristin permalink
    January 15, 2009 2:18 am

    I haven’t been keeping up with my blog reading either…ughhh! We’ve been on vacay for the last week, and now I return home to nearly 200 unread posts. Not sure how I’m going to get to them all…I LOVE this post! Thanks for the link to the kraft foods site…I’ll definitely be checking that one out.Now, if only I could get Lilly to play independently while I make dinner. That’s so not happening right now, so it’s been hard to actually make a meal without a little kid clawing at my legs the entire time. Not to mention, that’s not entirely safe. Any suggestions for a super social baby who refuses to play alone? 🙂

  4. Sharon permalink
    January 24, 2009 3:43 am

    I really like the rotation idea and keeping a notebook, thank you for sharing 🙂

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