Crafty Meal Planning

food_bananas_banana_240848_tn.jpgIt may be a stretch, but I believe planning meals for your family requires a great exercise of creativity — especially when many kids would like pasta with a side of pasta.  And making sure you get a variety of color and texture requires skill, too, though Mother Nature seems to have no problem providing it.

Fortunately, my kids like their fruits and veggies, and we’re able to fit those into our diet regularly.  But kids, like us, get burned out on the same thing over and over.

So I thought I’d share my past month’s menu (for what it’s worth) to see if it inspires some new ideas for you.  Maybe I’ll do this regularly once a month to see how I’ve improved.  If a meal sounds good to you and you can’t come up with your own recipe, I’d be happy to share.  Just leave a comment asking me for particulars, and I’ll oblige.

It should be noted that I have a family of six, so there usually aren’t loads of leftovers, and when there are, they are usually lunch for the next day.  When we don’t have leftovers, it’s usually a PB&J, unless it’s one of those days, and we head to fast food.  (Honestly, I’m trying to curb this tendency.)

For snacks we keep on hand fruits, crackers/pretzels, cheese and the occasional chocolate or candy — I won’t lie!

You’ll notice this particular month or so seems like a bit of a rut.  We all go through phases.  Right now we’re just buying hot dogs and macaroni and cheese by the case.   It’s quick, easy, and the kids like it — same for tacquitos.

Don’t miss the links at the end that offer some great recipes and managing tools or help me out and use some of the ads to the right!  I haven’t gotten so far as to use Tasty Planner regularly, but it would be nice!  Suggestions/comments on your own successes/tips are welcome.

(* means we either ate out or had help with the meal)

Week 1

*Gathering:  Potluck — Italian pasta salad
Breakfast — waffles, sausage, eggs
Hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, green veggie
Grilled ham and cheese and tomato soup
Meatloaf, potatoes, peas, rolls
Paninis, fruit, chips
Lasagne, salad

Week 2

Meatloaf, potatoes (apparently not used in first week, moved to second)
Black bean burritos, guacamole, chips
*Out — hamburgers, etc. — it happens
Beef Stroganoff, green beans
Chili, cornbread
Chicken salad
Chicken pasta medley, salad

Week 3

Chicken salad
Loaded baked potatoes, salad
Pot roast, veggies, rolls
Hamburgers, fries
*Dinner with in-laws

Week 4

Tacquitos (frozen chicken&cheese variety), corn, fruit
Hot dogs, mac-n-cheese, green veggie
Breakfast — blueberry pancakes, bacon, eggs
Spaghetti, salad
Ham steaks, potatoes, peas
Goulash, green beans

Week 5

Tacquitos, corn, fruit
Rotel chicken, beans, green beans
Chili, cornbread
Hot dogs, mac-n-cheese, green veggie
Meatloaf, potatoes, peas

Some Meal-Planning Links/Sites

    • RealSimple has this article that links to meal-planning sites, some of which have a subscriber fee.
    • WOW.  Family Fun comes through again with a whole month of meals; dishes link to recipe.  Gotta love that.
    • This place lists some of the World’s Healthiest Foods, in case you need new ideas/inspiration.
    • Especially you homeschoolin’ moms will appreciate this free organizing download and their Menus4Moms.
    • For organizing and sharing recipes and making shopping lists, this newer tool is good, though it has a couple of flaws (like putting every ingredient on your generated shopping list, unless they fixed it recently) — Tasty Planner.
    • Just Google for meal planners or weekly meal planners, and you’ll see all the 200k+ possibilties!

Bon apetit!

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  1. This must be the topic of the day! It’s meal planning time for us (two weeks at a time instead of a month) and I found that registering at gives you a meal planning tool and grocery list tool. Granted, it’s just for their recipes, but there are a LOT, and having my meal planned directly from a recipe site gave me uber variety. You can print the meal plan incomplete and write in your other dishes, too. It helped, if only for this meal planning session.

  2. Thanks for the tip, Brannan! Maybe one of these days I’ll get really good at meal planning . . . hopefully before the kids move out!