Menu Planning Tips for Moms and Kids

We know moms have a lot going on during the week, and that by the time dinner rolls around, ordering take-out can sometimes be the easiest way to get everyone fed- and that’s okay! Having a plan for meals is another way to make your week a little easier and take some of the pressure off of having to come up with a dinner idea each night. It’s also a really great way to get kids involved with help around the household, trying new recipes, and building on their cooking skills.  In this post, we’ll cover easy ways to menu plan with kids so that you can have an organized week and healthy meals ready to go!

Talk to kids about what they’d like to eat this week:

On Sundays, ask kids what they want to have for dinner this week. Tell them you want their suggestions and want them to help you make it. See what they come up with! Encourage them to think of something new, or even look through recipes online together. Just talking through different food options and finding new recipes is a great way to get kids curious about food and perhaps willing to try something new.

Work on compromising.

Some kids will suggest the same dish every week, and that’s okay! Familiarity with food is important when kids are young, and they tend to like what they’re comfortable with. Maybe concede one meal that you know they’ll eat and love but see if you can get them to compromise by adding a new side to their favorite meal or picking the vegetable you include with dinner. That way, you’re reaching a compromise and also including them in the choice of something that they normally wouldn’t pick on their own.

Have an agreed-upon meal template:

This is a similar idea to compromise, but if you have a general template for meals, like making sure that you include a vegetable and whole grain at every meal, you can ensure your child is getting a healthy and balanced diet without having to do mental gymnastics. This is also a great way to get some nutrition education in, as asking kids to think of a fruit or vegetable or grain will help them to recognize these foods and branch out their taste a bit.

Be realistic about time and availability:

When menu planning, you may be inclined to choose a bunch of new recipes. While new dishes can be fun, avoid complicated recipes with a lot of steps or long lists of new ingredients on a busy weeknight. Look for twists on old favorites, like making tacos with beans instead of meat, or adding vegetables to your spaghetti. It’s ok to take shortcuts, too – precut frozen or canned vegetables can be your best friend when you’re short on time.

Recipes with a few easy steps are better for kids. For example, if you’re making something like homemade pizzas, you can make an assembly line with kids and everyone can take a turn at each station, like putting sauce on the dough, sprinkling the cheese, adding toppings, and so on.

Try to come up with meals that overlap

Photo by Daria Obymaha from Pexels

When you plan for meals that have some similar components, it can make execution during the week a bit easier. For example, if you’re making chicken, roasted vegetables and rice for dinner one night, you might make a larger batch, and then use leftovers to make chicken and vegetable soup, or quesadillas with roasted veggies and chicken! Mixing up the format of foods helps keep cost low and tastebuds happy.

Flexibility is key!

Look, some weeks you’ll nail the menu, and some weeks the plan might fall apart, but don’t let it get you down! If you’re being too strict with yourself on the weekly menu, it’s going to get old fast. These are difficult times and we need to be gentle with ourselves and our kids. Remember, the goal of menu planning is to make your life easier, not more challenging. You need to do what works best for you and your kids when it comes to eating healthy!

Do you and your family menu plan? What tips and tricks work best for you? Let us know in the comments!