Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Weekly Meal Plan

A few months ago, I decided to create a weekly meal plan to see if it made dinnertime easier. I love to cook but deciding what to have for dinner took so much effort and then, often, the kids didn't eat what I had prepared. Sometimes, I ended up preparing a different dinner for everyone. I decided to try to look at the meals that BOTH my kids actually ate and liked. It is a little bit of a moving target because, of course, kid's get sick of a dish and decide they just don't want to eat it anymore. Also, (a disclaimer) my basic weekly meal plan is a little boring. Serving a sauce on the side, like my Easy Green Dip or guacamole, makes it more interesting though.

I am not winning any culinary awards for my dinners, but it certainly makes things easier. On Monday, I generally have the fixings for pizza in the fridge so I don't need to shop. On Tuesday I shop for the fish, meat and chicken and all the vegetables. I serve the fish on Tuesday--the day I shop. The beef is served on Wednesday and is only sitting in my fridge for a day. On Wednesday I also dredge the flattened chicken in potato or corn starch which tenderizes for cooking on Thursday. Below is my sample schedule...

Monday-Pizza Night with olives
Tuesday-Pan Fried Flounder breaded with cereal crumbs
Wednesday-Grass Fed Beef (hamburgers or steak or chili or tacos)
Thursday-Chicken Paillard
Fun Friday!-leftovers or whatever you want
Saturday and Sunday-easy food like pasta or chicken nuggets (if we go out without the kids) or we go out to a restaurant or we cook something like Pad Thai

When my friend with six kids cooks for her family, I noticed that a lot of the time she breads and pan fries what she serves. I think I realized that my kids would even eat fish if it was prepared in this kid friendly way. And, served with a wedge of lemon or an interesting sauce, suddenly I went from preparing four different dinners to preparing one that we all enjoyed together.

While preparing the same thing week in week out can be a little monotonous--the big pay off is that when you make the same thing you get very good at preparing it--and kids know what to expect. With each of these meals which I have streamlined, I can have dinner on the table in 30 minutes if I need to. And by removing the question of "what to have for dinner" I enjoy the process of cooking and dinner with my family more.

Also, if you get bored of anything you can serve a different preparation. For instance, last week I made two types of fish--salmon and breaded flounder. It wasn't that much more work (as the salmon had a bread crumbs on top. But, having two options made Fish Tuesday a little more exciting. And serving the familiar pan fried flounder option for anyone who didn't want the salmon it took the pressure off everyone eating the salmon.

How do you decide what to make for dinner?


Tina said...

I have a somewhat similar weekly plan to yours, or I did until we stopped eating gluten about 3 weeks ago. We would do pizza on Monday, fish on Tuesday, left overs on Wednesday, brinner (breakfast for dinner) on Thursday, and Mac and cheese on Friday. Saturday or Sunday would be a big crockpot meal.
We are slowly getting out barrings with going gluten and dairy free, so hopefully I can add the pizza and mac&cheese back in soon.
I found your site when I googled gluten free kid. I appreciate the info your are providing.

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Carey Greene said...

I've been a fan of meal planning for years, even before I was gluten free. When we started So Lucky and our blog, we took the meal plan to the web, and we post one each week on Friday for the next week. Check it out at :)

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