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7 Fail-Proof Steps For Planning Family Meals

Jill Castle

Family Cooking

The plan will fail if you fail to plan. I bet you have heard this phrase before. If you are like many parents, you are busy with children, their activities, and homework. Perhaps you work, or maybe you are busy with housework and volunteer activities. Regardless, time given to others is time taken away from planning and preparing meals for a family.

We all know that good nutrition is the cornerstone of healthy, growing kids. So, how can we be efficient with meals and consider nutrition too? Here are some simple suggestions for planning your family meals:

1. Select a day for menu planning, grocery list making, and shopping.

2. Plan a complete dinner meal for each night of the week (and don’t forget to include the dining out nights on your list–it always feels nice to see that you have a night off from cooking!). Remember to include the healthy, balanced components of a good meal: protein source, dairy, vegetable, fruit, and whole grains.

3. Divide your week into theme nights–Crockpot night (I use this theme for my busiest night of the week); Vegetarian night, Fish night, Potato Bar night, Soup and Sandwich night, Kid’s Choice night, etc.

4. Plan your lunches, breakfast items, and snacks for the week. Don’t forget to account for these–planning will help bring variety to these meals and avoid the boring “bowl of cereal” and “same old sandwich” every day.

5. Write down your grocery list from the daily meals and snacks you have listed. Remember, the great thing about having a list is that you can recycle it! Save your menus and grocery lists and rotate them on a cycle.

6. Think about your budget. If you use coupons or store specials, take these into consideration when planning your weekly menu and grocery list.

7. Not sure what to make? Check out our recipes and videos on Kate’s Kitchen with Kids and Kate’s Kitchen with Teens!

Keep that menu list handy and refer to it throughout the week. Having a game plan and the needed items in the kitchen can calm the stress that goes along with pulling a meal together at the end of a busy day, help you feed your family healthier meals and snacks, and help you feel more successful as a parent!

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Jill Castle

Jill Castle is a registered dietitian/nutritionist with expertise in pediatric nutrition. She is the co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School, and creator of Just the Right Byte, a childhood nutrition blog. Follow Jill on Twitter @pediRD and Facebook.