How To... Plan Weekly Dinner Menus
Dinnertime's your big chance to get the whole family together to enjoy a nutritious meal and some family bonding. (Hey, a mom can dream, can't she?) It can become a burden, though, when you're struggling to come up with a meal to satisfy every member of your family. Here are some simple tricks to plan a weekly dinner menu that the whole family will love.
Step 1: Get choosy.
Let your kids voice their opinions on what the weekly dinner menu should include. For burger night, ask if they'd like corn or broccoli slaw on the side. If you're making spaghetti, ask if they'd like turkey or ground chicken meatballs.
Step 2: Try something new.
Do some recipe research with your kids, and vow to try a new meal together. Or scour the produce section or farmer's market for a fruit or veggie that doesn't often make it to your dinner table. Make experimentation with new tastes a fun challenge for your family.
Step 3: Get help.
Kids naturally show more interest in foods they help make, so call them into the kitchen and assign age-appropriate tasks. Bonus: This gives you a jumpstart on that family bonding at the dinner table.
Step 4: Keep it simple.
With today's super-packed schedules, the family dinner is going the way of the dinosaur. To keep this tradition alive, keep dinnertime simple. On a nightly basis, don't spend more time prepping the meal than you would sitting down with your family to eat it. You'll find so many simple meals that are delicious, nutritious, and most importantly, quick and easy if you do some homework.
Step 5: make meals do Double duty.
Give yourself a night off by making one meal that can last for two nights. It can be more than just reheating the same leftovers, however. If you make roasted chicken one night, shred the remainder on the second night and toss it with brown rice, broccoli and cheese for an easy (and yummy) casserole that no one will suspect was last night's leftovers.
Step 6: Change it up.
While your family may look forward to Taco Tuesday, switching it up every now and then will add a little excitement to your weekly dinner menu. Try offering something new to the routine occasionally, such as swapping flour tortillas out for wheat or corn, or trading refried beans for black beans. Simple switches will keep the tradition alive while broadening your family's palate.
Step 7: get sweet but stay wholesome.
Food shouldn't ever be used as a reward -- for example, avoid saying, "Finish your carrots and you can have a cookie for dessert" -- but the occasional sweet treat is a great way to round out a nutritious meal. Dessert doesn't have to equate to overprocessed packaged nightmares, either. Involve the whole family in whipping up an easy dessert, such as homemade popsicles made from real fruit.
More family dinner ideas
For more family dinner ideas, check this out: