The timeless question of “what’s for dinner?” can strike fear into every parent’s heart.
Deciding on the weekly family meals can be a battleground of likes and dislikes, complaining and compliments, trials and tribulations; sometimes all the same meal! Taking the hard work out of dinner menu planning can lead to a more harmonious week for parents while curtailing the potential complaints from the kids (and adults!).
Using a menu planning calendar which are widely available in stationary stores or simple pen & paper can help identify the evenings where quick dinners are required in between family member’s activities. Other evenings may allow for a longer cooking time and also allow you to see how many you need to cook for. Starting with a system of meal types may also help structure the week.
Some healthy family meal types are:
- 2-3 meat meals per week – steak, lean lamb, kangaroo, or mince works well in a variety of meals.
- 2-3 fish meals per week – this could include fresh, frozen, or tinned fish or seafood.
- 1 meat free meal – try an egg dish such as frittata or even something simple like baked beans on toast.
- Chicken, turkey, or pork can be included for variety.
- Possibly a regular family tradition such as takeaway or dinner at the grandparents.
- A pasta or rice dish once per week – always a crowd pleaser and can be a great quick meal.
Smart eating tip – for good health it is recommended to include vegetables or salad every single day. Include the side dishes you may want to serve with the evening meal to ensure plenty of vegetables or salad for every meal of the week.
It can help to have children (and adults) involved in the planning of the menu. Depending on ages, it may work to allow every family member the opportunity to choose a dinner meal. This may come from a list of family favourites, from cookbooks, or online. Why don’t you give each family member a healthy cookbook, a meal type, and see what they choose? What are some of your favourite healthy, family friendly recipes?