Planning meals for your family can be frustrating. No one really wants to be relegated to Meatloaf Monday, Taco Tuesday, or Chicken Wednesday. It can get boring very quickly.
But planning meals is an important part of homemaking, so we do the best we can, and hope our family will enjoy the meals we plan.
There is a way to make planning meals easier, and still add a bit of fun and deliciousness to each day. Try these few tips for planning meals and see if they help!
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Tips for Planning Meals
Tip #1 – Do your Homework
Before you think about planning meals that your family will like, go to the source. Ask each family member to give you five foods they really love. Then ask them what they might like to try that is new.
If you have children, there is a good chance that pizza, hamburgers, and candy bars will be on the list. That’s okay. At least you will have two ideas of meals to make. (And if you think about it, making pizza can actually be a good thing. Pizzas can be made in individual sized pans, and each person can choose their own.)
Once everyone has chimed in on their favorite foods, make a list of all their suggestions. Use that list to start planning meals.
Tip #2 – Think Healthy
Although it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a sweet dessert once in a while, having a full meal of candy bars isn’t the best idea – even if our children think it is.
A basic meal doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it does need to be healthy. Choosing lean meats, vegetables and fruit are a good start.
But beware of fad diets. What works well for you may not be the best thing for your children. The amount of activity a person has in a day will relate directly to how many (and what type) calories are needed. Healthline offers great information on this.
Still want that sweet dessert?d Try fruit instead, and bake a cake once a week – or even every two weeks. Fruit is naturally sweet, and doesn’t contain as many calories.
Tip #3 – Go ‘Out’ to Eat!
Oh. Sorry if I got your hopes up. I don’t mean literally going to a restaurant. Even if that sounds like a convenient solution, it isn’t cost effective. What I really mean is, think about your favorite restaurant. What do they serve that you can’t resist?
Now that I have your mouth watering, it’s time to do an online search. Just type in the name of the restaurant and the name of the item, and 10 to 1 you will get a copy cat recipe – if not hundreds of them.
I have to confess – I absolutely love Longhorn Steakhouse’s Parmesan Chicken. When I searched for the recipe, I found several great versions, as well as nutritional information. When I am tired of the same old meals, I just add this one to the meal plan, or find another one that we love.
Tip #4 – Revert to your Childhood
When you think of days gone by, are part of those memories about food? Maybe Grandma’s Chicken and Dumplings, or Mom’s Roast Beef? If they are still around, ask them for the recipes. If not, then go through your recipe box, or ask another family member if they have the recipe.
One of my favorite meals was one my Aunt Evelyn made when I would go spend the weekend with her. It consisted of Fried Chicken, Candied Sweet Potatoes and Corn Fritters. There was usually a green vegetable with it, more times than not green beans and new potatoes, or lima beans. But I still get hungry when I think about how delicious it was.
Of course, it also isn’t the healthiest meal in the recipe box, but on occasion, it definitely makes the cut!
Tip #5 – Phone a Friend
When all else fails, talk to your friends about their favorite meals to cook. Sometimes, just a single idea can spark all kinds of recipes you can start to create. Offer to share recipes with them, as well.
And if you really get desperate, schedule a get together with friends and family members who are primarily responsible for planning meals for their families. Then host a Meal Planning Party.
There are two ways to do this:
A Sampling Party – Ask each person to make a casserole to bring to the party, along with enough copies of the recipe for each attendee. You, as the host, will supply plates, forks, napkins and something to drink (as well as your own casserole and recipe).
Then indulge in a taste-test. This gives everyone an idea of what the casserole tastes like, and can get a copy of the recipes. In some cases, the casserole may not be exactly what your family may like, but get the recipe anyway. Substitutions can usually be easily made to create your own version that your family will enjoy.
Recipe Swap – For this, there is no cooking involved (except for you, as the hostess). Instead, ask each person to bring their favorite recipes in three different categories – Main Meal, Vegetable, Salad. Have them bring enough copies for each person attending.
While you sit and visit over a light lunch, or cake and coffee, you can get ideas for your own future meal plans.
Planning meals doesn’t have to be drudge work. All you need is a good plan, an idea of what your family likes to eat, and a few good recipes. The best part is, you can find enjoyment in the process by turning it into a party, or just taking a walk down memory lane!
And if you just gotta have a dessert, try my Mom’s Chocolate Sheet Cake. Getting that recipe was well worth the effort of digging into her recipe box!
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