6 September 2011

menu planning*

One of the tasks I dread each week is menu planning. We started planning our meals each week when I went back to work, which was when M was 16 months old. Admitedly, it makes most of the shopping and cooking process easier. Now we have a little very fussy man and a slightly picky girly girl, menu planning has become downright draining, boring and tedious.

We used to say, “Ohh, that looks delicious. Let’s cook that!”. Now, we mention recipes that look yummy but 99% of them are not suitable for our kids. M used to be a fabulous little eater, trying almost everything we gave her, devouring seafood, livers, spicy food and basically what ever we ate.

Now, she screws up her perfect little face at the sight of something… unusual or slightly ugly looking. No more prawns for her, nothing spicy. She will try foods and she does enjoy vegetables. We know we’re lucky with her.

O, on the other hand, only likes a few select items from our meals. Pasta. Rice. Bread. Basically, carbs. Some meat – if it’s not too hard, too soft, too small or too spicy. Some days that means he’ll eat a little chicken drumstick whole (not the bones! ) and other days that will mean he will sob until we cut the meat off the bone for him and then he’ll throw it on the floor. And then just eat the potato.

Back to the menu planning. We plan for one meal over the weekend which we know they won’t eat, this almost always includes prawns cooked in various ways. On those nights, the kids eat their standby curry. Then for the other six nights, we cook a few meals that we know they will at least have a chance of eating something out of the meal, and then a few that we know they will most probably eat and maybe even enjoy.
We’ve started allocating meals to particular days too, this makes it easier for us to make sure items are defrosted or prepared in the morning. Boring, but it works. All our food is freshly cooked. We make our dressings, spice rubs, marinades and sauces from scratch and that takes time. We cook on the weekends and that way, there is minimal preparation needed in the morning or after work.
This week

Thai Beef Salad
Chicken wings, corn on the cob, salad
Roast lamb and vegetables
Thai chilli prawns, salad & herb bread/curry for the kids
Spaghetti marinara, with olives, anchovies and caper tomato sauce
Steak, spiced potatoes, salad
Creamy bacon, chicken and mushroom pasta

Next week, so far...

Prawn gumbo/curry or nuggets with salad, crusty bread
Lovely legs marinated in something, salad and cous cous
Lentil & bacon soup
Homemade pizza
Steak sanwiches with salad

Do you menu plan? Do your kids eat?!


Anonymous said...

wow. you are super organised. we try and meal plan, but often it is a conversation for the car on the way home after work. your meals sound really delicious and preparing all of your own sauces and things, hats off to you clever lady!

Peta said...

Ah, a girl after my own heart!
I have started meal planning too. and its saving me HEAPS of money! I usually plan on Sunday arvo (or make a note if i come across a recipe on a blog or magazine along the way) and then I do the shopping on a Monday when I only have Darcy with me. Having a list has made shopping with a toddler who would eat his way around the supermarket a little easier (and quicker!) for me.
I do all the shopping and pretty much all the cooking give or take a piece of something on the bbq. So i get all the say in what we eat :) I only cook one meal and I give it to all three kids. Most of the things I cook are somewhat 'adaptable' so its not too bad. I am a fairly picky eater myslef and i don't want my kids to end up like me. i try to other a range but should cook more seafood! (i don't like it). Noah is my fussiest. Lilli eats most everything. She will tell me she doesn't like it, but eats it anyway. Noah just takes FOREVER if its something he's not keen on. Most nights the kids eat before my husband is even home. Depending on the dish I will either eat with the kids or later with Pete.

wow, sorry for the essay!