Today I am going to write a bit about my weekly menu planning.
There are six people in our household and that inevitably also means that there are several different ideas of what a nice dinner looks like. It isn’t easy to get them all to agree on food you’re making, but it is not impossible. What I am writing now, is what works for my family. It might not suit yours perfectly, but it might give you ideas on how to tackle the daily fight of ‘What’s for dinner’.
Every weekend, I sit down and write the menu for the week ahead. Not every meal, but the two main ones: school lunches and family dinners. This helps me keep the food costs down as I shop for the meals I am going to make and rarely go outside those boundaries; and, almost more importantly, it keeps the fights over what food it is at a minimum. Kids see what’s on the menu and the board it is written on doesn’t allow them to argue back. It’s written down and rarely gets changed.
Why don’t I plan for breakfasts? Because that is a staple in our house that doesn’t change much. Breakfast is a very important part of the day. I make sure my children have a good breakfast before they head off to school; it is important for their concentration and all-round wellbeing.
However, to keep it simple and make sure they eat healthy, I have one simple rule: During the week, there is only one choice. And that is to either eat your porridge, or eat your wheat biscuits (We favour the cheaper Aldi brand) – both these breakfasts fill them up well and give them a power start to the day. On Fridays, I let them have a teaspoon of chocolate spread in their porridge or a squeeze of honey over their wheat biscuits. Friday is our treat day.
You know best the likes and dislikes of your family when it comes to food. For example, I know my 3-year-old would be perfectly happy to eat pasta with pesto every single day of the week. As tasty as that is, it isn’t something I’m willing to entertain. I vary our dinners as much as possible by keeping the costs down by using similar ingredients.
This is a sample dinner menu for our week – recipes for all these will be posted over the coming days:
- Beanburgers with potato & carrot mash
- Vegetable Soup with brown bread
- Vegetable Rice with naan bread
- Maccaroni Cheese
- Chickpea “Chicken” Nuggets with Wedges and corn on the cob
- Lentil Stew
As different as the dinners are – shopping wise, they are quite similar. Once you have your freezer stocked with petit pois, sweetcorn, corn on cob – you’re half-way there. This sample menu – which is a typical one for us – uses these fresh, raw vegetables/pulses:
potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, lentils, peppers, sweet potato, butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower
There are carrots in 4 of the dinners. Potatoes in 3. Butternut and sweet potato in 2 of them. You see where this is going – but that’s not all. I also sync the school lunches with the dinners. The night I make pizza: I make extra dough to make mini calzones for their school lunch the next day. Potato and carrot mash left over? I add an egg, a few frozen peas and some cheese to make a dough and bake them into potato cakes for their school lunch next day. It’s a welcome change from the old cheese sandwich.
A little imagination goes a long way to keeping lunches different, healthy and tasty – and your wallet a bit fuller by the end of it! 😀
I’m very aware how long this post already is, so I will leave it at this until the next post of school lunch ideas and will report back when the recipes are up for each dinner listed!