Tips to Meal Plan for Your Picky Family

Are you struggling with getting a healthy dinner on the table most nights? Do you need help meal planning? Don't worry it doesn't have to be that complicated. I am going to share with you step by step how I quickly meal plan for a family of 5, with picky eaters and different restrictions. It has helped us save money, stop the million questions of "What's for dinner" and helped make those "witching hours" more bearable. 

Lets do this....

Master Favorite List and List of Ideas

I have two lists that I keep handy when making my meal plan for the week. One being our family favorites which are our go to meals that I know everyone (or most everyone) will eat, I also make note of which ones are quick to make for busy nights. The other list I have (which is really long) is dinners I want to try. I make sure to not make on busy nights unless it is a crockpot meal that I can throw together and forget about. 
This doesn't have to take long to make. I have a running list of ideas on my phone, and our favorite list is written down. When I made the written list I also got my families input. 

Use What You Have On Hand

I keep a master list of what we have in our freezers. (deep freezer and main freezer). If an item is on sale I try to stock up them, even if it isn't on my menu for that week. I base my menu with what we already have or what is one sale. 

Look at your Calendar First

Before you start meal planning for the week take a look at your calendar. I write down anything important going on and if I have Ella. If it is a night that I know Brian isn't going to be home I know not to plan something for the grill because I don't use the grill. The nights I don't have Ella I try not to make meals that she loves so she doesn't miss out. If it is a night that we have plans that we need out the door by a certain time I don't plan a meal that is going to take forever to cook. 
I should also note we try to sit down to eat as a family as often as possible. This isn't always possible but we adjust as we can. The nights that Ella goes to her dads she eats dinner with them so that one is a given. 
I will also briefly look at the weather for the week ahead when meal planning. I know I live in Ohio and the weather changes. In the fall/winter if the weather is going to be warmer I don't want chili. If I know it is suppose to rain or storm all day I avoid the grill. 

Have Themed Days

At least once a week we have leftovers, if your not a leftover person don't plan leftovers. One night a week we do take out. 99% of the time it is Taco Tuesday. In the fall once a week we do a crockpot and/or soup, that gives us more leftovers or lunches too. 

Not Everyone has to eat the same thing

Yes you heard me. This can be a game changer. and No I am not saying you have to slave away in the kitchen and make a bunch of different meals. There are some meals that I know my kids won't eat and I plan to make them something different. Or there are meals that I don't eat but everyone else does. Be prepared to switch it up. Have quick easy meals on hand your kids like such as chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, frozen pizza, pb and j. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. 
My family loves pasta, I do not. I plan zoodles or a salad for myself those nights. 

Make a Grocery List
Once you come up with your meal plan make sure you write down what you need to buy to make it happen. This helps to ensure you buy what you need and can help with impulse buying to help you save money. 

Nothing Wrong with Someone shopping for you

Instacart is my best friend at times. I do pick up at our local Aldi and it is wonderful (usually). Not having to drag the kids into the store and them throw a bunch of stuff in the cart (pre teens are wonderful) 

Its not going to go as planned 100% of the time

Don't stress if you struggle with starting to meal plan. If you forget to thaw the chicken it isn't the end of the world. Meal plans are not set in stone, if you need to switch it up DO IT. Meal plans are suppose to help make your witching hours less stressful. 

No Need to Be Fancy

You don't need fancy menu's with lots of options and side dishes. The most important thing is to get your family feed delicious food. My kids are picky and are not a fan of veggies but will eat all the fruit so we compromise and they get fruit. 

Slow Cooker is your Friend

Even though I am a stay at home mom I don't want to spend hours in the kitchen. Some of our family favorites are crock pot meals. If we are doing tacos, the chicken gets thrown in the crockpot in the morning. 

Don't Forget the Air Fryer

We use our air fryer everyday, numerous times a day. From cooking potatoes and other veggies, heating chicken nuggets, toasting sourdough bread. This is the quickest way to make a lot of sides. 

Sheet Pan Meals

I don't make these enough. but it is so easy to chop everything and throw it on a sheet pan and bake it all together. No huge mess. 

I hope these tips will help you meal plan with kids going back to school, evening getting filled with activities and fall coming soon. Happy Meal Planning. 

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