Family Meal Planning
My mum is a fabulous cook and was an organised meal planner when we were growing up. At the beginning of each month she would get all her favourite cook books and the wall calendar down and set herself up at the kitchen table. She liked to do a big shop once a month so she needed to know beforehand what to buy. We were welcome to join her and help look for ideas in her well used books. Now I always compare my own cooking to my mum’s!
Although she planned a whole month ahead, she worked according to a structure which made it all a bit easier. This was her plan:
- Write down the Sunday main meal. Each Sunday would be a different roast for lunch; either chicken, beef, lamb or pork. She also made the obligatory accompaniments from scratch (Yorkshire puds for beef, and the bread, mint or apple sauces for the others).
- Mondays were usually Sunday left overs converted into either risotto, cottage pie or shepherds pie.
- Tuesdays and Thursdays were vegetarian meals. (Baked pancakes stuffed with spinach and smothered in cheese sauce was my favourite)
- Every Friday was a fish related dish (kedgeree, fish pie, fish cakes were the first three down on the calendar)
- That just left Wednesdays and Saturdays to figure out.
She ALSO always made a dessert or starter every night and two desserts on a Sunday – and in the Winter, one of them was ALWAYS a steamed pudding. I LOVE steamed puddings, her ginger one is my fave.
So I learnt lots from my mum but I don’t adhere to her way of doing things. I have never been quite as organised, or dedicated with my own cooking. I don’t plan for the whole month, I’m more of a weekly kind of gal. On Fridays we often make pizza or in the summer usually have a braai (barbeque). I rarely have enough left overs on a Monday from the Sunday meal to make a whole new dish unless I am ruthless with the meat. And I hardly ever make dessert as now I have daughters who love to make them!
Benefits of meal planning
So if you are a mum there’s probably a few things you have noticed about children and food. 1. They don’t always love what you love. 2. They seem to be born with a natural aversion to anything green. 3. They don’t consider it rude to complain about the food.
Meal planning goes a long way to help overcome some of those little hurdles. The benefits of writing down the meals in advance and preparing a shopping list include:
- It’s really easy! Just jot down the main dish, the veggies and other sides will slot into place.
- Less stress! Sometime towards the late afternoon my brain decides it has made enough decisions for the day. Some days trying to figure out what to cook for the most nutritious meal of the day could be enough to switch it off altogether. On the days when I have the meal planned the stress is taken out of the prep and there is no planning needed.
- Time is saved! Having kids makes afternoons and evenings busy with after school activities. There isn’t oodles of time to leisurely peruse cookbooks. If you know what you are going to cook, you can even try and slot the cooking in earlier in the day (slow cookers are brilliant for this, especially for working mums).
- Saving money too! When you know what you are going to cook in the week ahead, you are more intentional in your shopping and will buy less unneeded items. You will ALSO save time with your shopping – BONUS!
- Fewer grumpy faces while you cook! (I can’t guarantee this one). Cooking for a family is tricky when there are a whole bunch of different preferences to appeal to. I try and accommodate as many different requests as I can but within reason – I’m not going to cook chips and chicken nuggets or pizza every night. The kids have grown to like (most of) the foods I like too simply by trying and becoming familiar with them. As a result they eat a broad range of vegetables and dishes which would be considered unusual for many of their peers.
My plan for the coming week
So down to the nitty grtitty at last! Here’s my plan for this coming week:
- Sunday: Roast Beef
- Monday: Cheese and pancetta omelette and potato wedges with salad
- Tuesday: Chicken pie
- Wednesday: Cauliflower, spinach and cheese bake with baked potatoes
- Thursday: Slow cooked cajun pork with beans and crusty bread
- Friday: Kedgeree
- Saturday: Homemade beef burgers
I haven’t included what I consider staples such as eggs, cheese, rice, pasta, potatoes, grains and assorted veg such as onions, salad etc in this list.
- Roast beef
- Chicken breast pieces
- Ready rolled puff pastry
- Crème fraîche
- Pork fillet
- Tin of kidney beans
- Crusty loaf (or use bread machine and bake at home check yeast and flour supplies)
- Smoked fish
- Minced beef
- Burger rolls (or check yeast and flour supplies to make at home)
Download your free printable meal plan and shopping list here: Meal Plan Checklist
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