The Rooted Family Meal Plan Set Up
Now that you have gotten to see the Loving Frugal meal plan, I will share mine. It is similar in its simplicity, although it goes in a two-week rotation. My kiddos are 12, 9, and 6 so they will call you out on lack of variety more than a younger kiddo would. Or at least they used to before we started this plan because before I figured this all out, my game was stale. I was grabbing go-to dinners or slapping together whatever I happened to find. I hated having to think about it after uber-ing kids around and a day of work. I decided to streamline the whole process and make it so simple that even I couldn't mess it up! It also gave me the opportunity to put our health first and always have meals that were guiding us towards health. I will let you know how I set it up and how we all plan together to stay both on budget and invested in health.
The Game Plan:
We have a weekly family meeting usually on Sunday nights (more on family meetings later). At our meeting, we schedule our meals for the week. We do all of the breakfast, lunch, dinner and after-school snack (read more about this in a related blog post). This helps to keep us on budget and me not running back and forth to the grocery store every day because we ran out of something we needed for later in the week, because someone ate it earlier than expected. This helps moms, kids, and especially significant others stay with the game plan.
One thing I did not anticipate but was pleasantly surprised about was that once my hubby got involved and in on the plan, there was a lot less arguing about food choices for kids, what kids should eat, and ransacking of snacks that were meant to go on picnics and playdates. It really helped our family all to be on the same page with health goals and allowed my husband and I to avoid too many treats for kids because we didn’t know what the other was feeding the kids. Yippee!
Because we are your typical family, with two parents who are working and kiddos all in school, we need simplicity, ease, and flexibility in scheduling our meals. Doing the same thing every Monday may not work for us because sometimes we may be home, sometimes a kid has practice, or a parent has a meeting or all of the above. On those days we may need a crockpot meal or a pre-frozen (more batch prep below) night that everyone can eat when they are able and the food can stay warm for the latecomers.
We plan out our meals at the beginning of each week, but that doesn’t mean chaos. We have 11 plus meals to choose from with one day designated for YUMMY YETI DINNER. So, instead of: Monday is a specific food night, I organized it so that it is more like, about just plugging the meals into the days that work for your family. The way they are set up, a week's worth is interchangeable.
Yummy Yeti Dinner
What, you ask is YUMMY YETI DINNER? Well, a long time ago I learned that using the term LEFTOVERS did not GO OVER well with my family so I simply changed the name to YUMMY YETI DINNER. Yeti because we haven’t eaten it all YET so we become the YETI family. We may eat with chopsticks that night or toothpicks (cause Yeti’s might need to stab their food with picks). We also may put tortillas out and make sleeping bag burritos of the leftovers. Did you know Yeti’s love sleeping bag burritos? Me neither until we made them. Yeti’s also know not to waste food so they don’t mind eating leftover camper’s food they find. Yeti’s love frozen banana whips (included in healthy desserts and treats blog post), so they always eat a good dinner so they can have dessert that night. TA DA! You can always have YUMMY YETI DINNER more than once every 6 days. Fill it in whenever the fridge starts getting full of leftovers.
Prep and Shopping
We also use Saturday/Sunday as our prep/grocery days. Kids are included on both aspects (more on how to do that in another blog post) but taking some time to prep this out on the weekend saves TONS of time and energy on the back end and if you are double batching (making two at once) for the next go round, you will give yourself lots less to do one weekend over the other. Personally, I like to shop on one day and prep on the other so it isn't sooooo much of my day, but there have been times when I am very eager to knock it out. Knowing I don't have to think about it for the next 12 days (or if you are batching, 24 days) make it very worth a bit of time on a Saturday/Sunday one weekend a month.
Ok, so today let’s start with dinners...here is our basic plan for how we pick. If it is a casserole, I (or a kiddo helper and myself) typically make two at the same time and freeze one, thereby making even less time in the kitchen during the month. You could get about a month’s worth done the first week and sail through the rest of the month if you wanted to. You can also grocery shop for all of your main staples just once during a month if you are batching or once every 12 days.
Also, this menu flows nicely in that you can easily incorporate leftovers from the night before’s meal into the next meal or a side for next night’s meal, thereby cutting down on waste. For example, a B4D (breakfast for dinner) night could be doubled and then used as breakfast for 3/7 days for the upcoming week. The leftover ground beef meal can be a side for next night or mixed in with a Taco-night dish and no one will be the wiser. Leftover stir-fry can find it’s way into lettuce wraps...you get the picture. I am including any hacks and tips I use to help you get started with how easy this system is.
Getting Kids Involved
I have also included my ninja mom hacks to help get the job done faster and more efficiently to save even more time in the kitchen. I really encourage you to give prep jobs to kiddos and if they are ready, start to hand over making some of the meals. Anyone 2 and over can help in some form. It gives ownership in their health as well as social/emotional bonding time with you. The really nice thing about doing somewhat of the same 2-week rotation more than once is it gives the kids an opportunity to “catch on’ to what you are throwing down and try to make it themselves or to put their creative spin on it. Do lettuce wraps one way a couple of times and then mention to your kiddos during the planning that there are about 99 other ways to do lettuce wraps on Pinterest and because they know the basics, they can be a part of the of trying something new.
With all the cooking shows out there, kids are really excited to be a part of the process. When they are they have more buy-in to eating the meal and are more invested in understanding how and why things are a healthy choice for their bodies. Instead of saying “eat that broccoli because it’s good for you”. It becomes...ok, it’s taco night, how could we put in some more veggies and watch them shine as they come up with ideas because they know what “taco night” means and what the expectations are, they are willing to take a little risk with an ingredient they may not have tried before. And if you are just too tired to try something new, DON'T. Get your system going and stick with it. Just know that if you ever want to change it up, just tweak what you have. Don’t reinvent the wheel and start something new.
Lastly, I am a health coach, not a chef. The recipes I am sharing are the ones my family eats, but I did not invent them. These are recipes my family has loved for years and I am sharing them with you so that you can make them part of your family’s easy, daily habit. I will include hacks, substitutions, and additions my family uses that will help your meal planning run smoothly.
I will also attach the Pinterest link where they are all housed so you can see them all at one time. This helps if you are showing kids. Seeing the pictures helps get them excited to help and shop.
Making a plan and having a system does not equal a rut when you do it this way. It opens you up to more possibilities on how to make simple, easy meals with and for your family.
Now that you know the setup, click on the next blog post (link below) to get the meal plan, and links for everything!
If you have any questions or comments, be sure to leave them below. Also, if you get going with this plan, please be sure how to share how it is working for your family!
Peace, love and roots,
If you'd like more help with getting your family groove with health and well-being, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a consult or class near you!