Menu planning is such a helpful thing when you have a busy schedule. Being able to head to the store and buy the right ingredients for the week and then the comfort of knowing each day what you are going to eat, can cut down on so much chaos during the week. It’s actually an easy thing to do when you don’t have kids or when your kids are too young to really give input. You select the food, you prepare the food, everybody eats the food. But as kids get older it’s an important skill to teach them. Menu planning with kids doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take some forethought. Here are 5 Tips for Menu Planning with kids.
5 Tips for Menu Planning with Kids
1. Explain the Budget:
The very first thing that I consider as I’m doing menu planning is my budget. How much I can or can’t spend on groceries for the week or month. That is automatically going to determine what kinds of meals I can think about. I love fettuccine alfredo from scratch, but if I have a very lean budget, chicken breast, fresh parmesan cheese and cream is probably not going to fit my budget as well as spaghetti with a simple tomato sauce. It’s important that kids understand that, but how you share that fact with your kids is very important. Simply telling them, “We don’t have money for that,” is probably going to upset them, but telling them, “We have XX of dollars to spend, lets choose some great meals that will fit that budget”, will remind them that no matter how lean the budget is, they can still choose to eat well.
2. Remind them to plan a balanced menu:
While not every meal is going to cover every food group, we want to make sure that we plan to cover them all throughout a day. So, if we want to have pancakes for breakfast one morning, we probably shouldn’t select sandwiches for lunch and potatoes for supper. We would want to balance it out with fruits, vegetables and proteins for the rest of the day.
3. Encourage them to try something new:
If we don’t consistently try new foods, it’s easy to get picky. Plus, we would never realize how much we love a new dish. Growing up, I thought that bell peppers were terrible and I wanted nothing to do with them, but I decided to try cooking new dishes and discovered that I love them. Fajitas, stuffed peppers and stuffed pepper soup are some of my favorite meals. A meal does not have to be exotic to be new.
4. Show them how to plan based on sales.
Back to the budget, it’s important that we teach kids that nearly every item in a store will go on sale at some point. Even if we don’t use coupons, we should still teach kids what marketers do to get people into the store. Kids are very susceptible to gimmicks. Let them know that just because a sign says 10 for $10 does not always mean that they have to buy 10 of the item. In contrast, let them know that a sale that says “Buy 5 items, save $5” does mean that you need to buy 5 of the items to qualify.
5. Teach them to combine ingredient amounts over multiple recipes for shopping.
Kids need to understand that if you have a bunch of recipes that call for 1 onion, they can buy a bag of onions rather than all individual onions. Or if they need 2 cups of flour in several recipes, they can buy a 5 pound bag instead of a bunch of small bags. Plus, using similar ingredients throughout the week will help save money.
While this is definitely not every part of menu planning, these are some basic things to cover with your kids to get them involved in the menu planning process. Plus, if you homeschool, you can count it as Home Ec!
Today, Jennifer is sharing some yummy kale chips to make with your kids!