Questions, Suggestions & Directions for your Attention, Ingestion & Reflexion without Exception or Digression.
As you may have noticed, this post is a week (and a bit) overdue! Not for lack of trying, I assure you. It is simply life getting in the way. But better late than never, right!?
Well that’s what I’m going with!
By now you have all had four weeks to reflect over all of the Meal Planning posts, or should I say Practising Meal Planning posts, and there has been some great feedback from you!
I wanted to make sure you all know that I am so grateful to you all for having this conversation with me, that I wanted to share some of the questions I was asked.
Does everyone like eating the same thing?
This is the hardest! Between the four of them, I have given up on the idea of pleasing everyone at the same time. We are lucky that we do all tend to eat the same things so at the very least I am able to choose a meal that everyone will eat even if they don’t necessarily want it.
What do you do for fussy eaters?
One of my sons is Autistic and often has sensory issues with food and if not sensory, colour and if not colour there is always some reason or another that the food offends him. We worked really hard to ensure that I wasn’t cooking multiple meals each night.
Rather than 100% accommodating his food preferences instead, we make sure to have at least one thing in the meal that I know he will eat. It is then up to him to make it work.
When he was younger we helped by offering suggestions on what he could do with it… “You like broccoli mate, why don’t you take them out and eat them?” or even, “Those potatoes are the same just in whole form. You could mash them with your fork and then they will be mash potato.”.
Some families do like to have a couple of choices available, and there is nothing wrong with that. I just remember my mum cooking the same 2 things for my brother and until recently (he’s in his 20’s) he only ate those things! It terrified me.
I also often hide veggies wherever possible in food like spag bol, lasagne, mac n cheese (cauliflower and pumpkin can be hidden in it) and I’ve even tried hiding it in baked goods. There is nothing wrong with squeezing in some extra veg.
How do you choose the meals for your family?
There are so many choices out there, I swear the internet just sometimes makes life harder! I have my go-to places; my pile of recipes (which I will one day make into a folder!), Pinterest, MyRecipes.com and I also use the Thermomix Recipe Community. If all else fails, I go back and see what I’ve cooked before or stick with one of our favourites. When I’m really brave I’ll even ask the kidlets what they want for dinner the following week.
Yes, Macca’s and KFC are often requested and just as often refused!
How do you avoid getting stuck in a rut?
That’s where the theme nights come in! The choices within each theme allows for a lot of variety. I also try to make sure we don't have the same meal in a fortnight. It can be hard to mix it up all the time but I generally work within that rule. Again, going back and looking at previous meal plans helps heaps for both ideas and making sure I don’t eat the same shit every week. Let’s be honest, it’s often us that doesn't want the repeat. My kids would have spag bol or chicken every night if I would let them.
What happens if something comes up at the last minute and the planned meal doesn’t happen on the night?
This actually happens a lot with us. So much so that I don’t really stick to a day of the week for the meals I plan. I plan 6 meals for the week and where they land is dependent on us (I covered where and when in this post). Nothing can be set in stone when you have a family, as I’m sure you know! It took me years, I kid you not, to come to this simple realisation.
So many beautifully perfected meal plans went to shit. So many arguments with the hubby because he didn’t want what was on the menu that night. It just works better for us, this way. If you find that something has come up and the meal plan for a night doesn’t go ahead, you can either bump everything along one night, so that it is all still used, or leave it and add it to the next week's menu planning (if the food items will survive).
How often do you meal plan?
We have found that regardless of our pay cycle, meal planning once a week is what works for us. If we do it less frequently we run a higher risk of running out of ingredients, ingredients not lasting as long as needed (going off OR being eaten by the middle of the night by snack monsters) or our taste buds changing to the point that what we thought we would want has completely altered. This is not to say that fortnightly or even monthly planning can't be an option for you, it just doesn’t work for us.
Do you do the meal prep early?
It definitely can be done early and in the past, I have done so. For me, at the moment this is very much a, when I get the chance kind of a thing. My goal through ISO is to find a way to be more productive with meal prep.
I do double batch things like spaghetti sauce, taco meat and sometimes pre-cut veggies as I will be cooking them through the week. There are always going to be some things that I know I can’t pre do, or prefer not to like pasta, it will get cooked the evening it will be used although I have pre-cooked and frozen this before.
If you're interested here is an IGTV of meal prep I did for delicious Breakfast Mc Muffins.
Who helps with the meal planning?
Me, myself and well you guessed it…. I.
I have tried to leave it up to hubby but he is more of a eat what he feels like when he feels like it kind of a guy and my OCD plays up big time when he is in charge of meals.
If I am honest though, I do enjoy being in charge of the meals. This way I know what to shop for, how nutritious the meals are and well, my OCD is kept at bay.
Why do you only plan six dinners?
Our family found that six dinners is what works for us. If we have something unexpected come up one night and we don’t have the time to make the planned meal we might have leftovers or a sneaky takeaway night, or I might throw together something quick and easy, it also allows for us to swap around what dinner we have on what night. We may also have a large lunch such as a roast or a large meal and then we don’t feel like the meal that we had planned for the night and therefore just have something light.
Why is the “to use” section of the meal plan so important?
Where to start? It reduces the amount of waste we as a family produce, it means that I don’t purchase more than what we need which in turn means we are saving money and it also makes me clean the fridge out each week.
You really should give it a go.
Why should I do the meal plan before I go shopping?
By doing the meal before I go shopping I can avoid buying random products and then trying to work out meals around them! Unfortunately, it does not help with my purchasing things in the middle aisle at ALDI, seriously why is ALDI so evil, Ha Ha! I have to bring my daughter with me to make sure I don’t buy everything anything that I know I won’t use, but is so cheap that, how could I not? Thanks, ALDI!
I also recommend not doing your grocery shop hungry! This will help stop you from buying things that look good simply because you are hungry. True story!
So that’s the last of my Practising Meal Planning posts, for now. I hope you learnt something new that you and your family can make use of in your meal planning.
More than anything, remember to take it easy on yourself. Shit happens, which often means that things don’t go to plan. It has taken me years to realise that this is ok and there are plenty of ways to work around it.
Until next time,
THE Ultimate Family Planner