With 10 mouths to feed EVERY.SINGLE.DAY., you would think I’d have to do a heck of a lot of planning, detailed budgeting, and wrack my brain to come up with new and enticing ways for my kids to eat all their least favorite foods.
Turns out though, I’m pretty, ahem, handy, (surely not lazy, no no) when it comes to making things as easy and simple for myself as I can possibly get away with! But guess what? I’ve found a method that actually works, and it truly is simple yet effective, which is why I’ve stuck with it for years now–that is, ever since I started cooking (more on that later!). The great thing about this meal planning method is that it is extremely flexible, which is perfect for our family. I’ve found that when I try to plan things too rigidly, whenever there is any change or disruption of the plan, it all goes to pot…or, not to pot, if you know what I mean. OK, moving on.
With this easy menu planner, I can still plan and shop ahead, and yet be able to move things around or change things up if need be. Maybe some of you already use this method, and if so, I’d love to hear your experiences! Or just write and tell me what works for you–I’m always game for trying new and improved methods to make things easier, faster, and less work for me!
So, how does this easier-than-pie family menu plan work?
Step 1) I have divided the week into basic categories of protein. Not only does this give us a well balanced diet, but it also forces me to not get in a rut.
So, each day of the week is assigned one main protein that I base the menu off of, with the exception of Saturday, which is a “SURPRISE!” day. The kids look forward to this, because they know it will be something special and different. What will it be? Will daddy cook Thai food? (So special!) Will we eat out, order in, have a BBQ, have waffles and ice-cream? Totally kidding, we never did that (yes, we totally did).
I have also scheduled one day to be eating leftovers day, and this has really helped us not to waste any food. Sometimes I get creative and make fried rice, casseroles or soups out of our leftovers. If I need to top it up, I will make omelets with rice and have fresh veggies and dip on the side.
As far as vegetables go, I usually just plan week by week, depending on the season, what we’re having for dinner, trying to incorporate as many different colors of vegetables in, etc.
Here is a look at our basic weekly menu planner which I have up on the fridge.
Step 2: Every week or 2 (depending on how much time I have) I consult my favorite pinterest recipe boards and plan the meals accordingly. These recipe boards are full of easy and tasty recipes that my kids love and that are not too time consuming to make. If I see a “fancy” recipe, even if it looks fabulous, I just ask myself, “Will you ever make this?” and if there’s any kind of hesitation, I know that means a big fat “NOPE!”, and it never makes it onto the recipe board.
Exceptions (rare though they may be) to this are holiday meals and treats–even I can do something special a few times a year, right? RIGHT?
Here are my favorite recipe boards, and I do hope to keep adding to them to maintain variety, not just for my kids, but for me as well. Hey, moms get bored, too!
For those of you who are interested, here’s the easy menu planner with only the weekdays on one side, and the food portion is left blank so you can fill it in according to your family’s specific needs and style. Follow this link for your free download!
I hope you enjoyed that little peek into our lives and what works for us! To see how I keep track of all my favorite recipes, how I store them and use them in a super simple, ridiculously easy and practical way, see this post about my handy-dandy–homemade cookbook binder!
Thanks for visiting, and happy family menu planning and cooking!