The easiest way to plan family meals is to break them up into sections – meals over 7 days, broken up into 3 different meals a day. The fact that the world is currently going through the COVID-19 pandemic (2020) means that most family members are at home during the day (and night). There’s no sitting down at restaurants, or cafés, and simply ordering breakfast, lunch or dinner has almost become a thing of the past (unfortunately).
Therefore, you’ve got to be really organized – it will only make your life (in the kitchen especially) much easier.
Planning a 7-Day Menu
Right, you have seven days ahead of you so you need to decide what you and your family wants to eat.
Here are the steps you need to take:
1. Decide on the main “star” of your meal
Work your meals around the main “star” of the meal. Perhaps it’s salmon steaks or lamb chops or even vegan burgers – but write down the “stars.” The easiest way to remember this is to get a white magnetic menu board and put it on your fridge, and write the main dishes down. Remember, there’s breakfast, lunch and dinner – so there’s lots of planning to do!
2. Decide on the peripheral dishes
What will you serve as side dishes to your main meal? If it’s winter it’s always great serving soup before your main dish. Peripheral dishes can be warm like creamed spinach and butternut with cinnamon and butter. Always offer a nice big French salad on the table with lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions, and a delicious French salad dressing. Another great dish to have on the side is coleslaw – there are different variations – white cabbage with carrots, or red cabbage. From there move all your ideas to your magnetic weekly calendar board that you keep adjacent to your menu planner and grocery boards.
3. Write down your grocery list
Look at every day that you have planned, and write down exactly what goes into the meal. See what you have in your fridge, and if there’s anything missing, write it down. Again, keep a magnetic board on the fridge to write down all the groceries you need. The magnetic menu board mentioned above actually comes with a handy magnetic grocery list board. Then take a picture of it with your phone.
4. Order online
With the current pandemic, it’s much easier and safer to order groceries online – so do so. Look at the picture you have taken of all the groceries you need, and carefully go one by one and order them. This will take time – but so would driving to the grocery store, finding parking, choosing your groceries and paying. It’s just more convenient this way.
5. Pack your fridge and freezer accordingly
When the groceries arrive, pack your fridge from the seventh day groceries at the back, to your first day groceries at the front. It will work easiest this way!
Basically, that’s the best way to easily plan your family meals. The following is an example of a seven-day week of meals, in case you’re feeling stuck! It has links to all the dinner meals, including vegan ones too!
|Breakfast||Fiber Bran & Strawberries||Boiled Eggs & Toast||Oats with Fresh Blueberries||Toast with Jam& Pears||Muesli & Bananas||Scrambled Eggs Toast with Beef Sausages Fried Tomatoes||Croissant with Butter & Strawberry Jam|
|Lunch||Tuna Mayonnaise Sandwiches with Cucumbers||Vegetable Soup Chicken Mayonnaise Sandwiches||Smoked Salmon Bagels with Creamed Cheese & Capers||Pita with Fallafel, Hummus and Salad||Fresh Baguettes with Cottage Cheese & Cucumbers||Fried Fish Greek Salad Fresh Rolls||Hamburger French Fries Coleslaw|
|Dinner||Roast Chicken||Leg of Lamb||Salmon Steaks||Spaghetti & Meatballs||Tuna Steaks||Seafood Paella||Mac & Cheese|
Leg of lamb:
Spaghetti and Meatballs:
Mac & Cheese:
Choose from Miso, lentil, corn, broccoli, butter bean, vegetable, and mushroom soup, and serve them with each day that passes (this is especially lovely in cooler weather and climates). Side dishes you can add are carrot salad with orange and pineapple juice and raisins, coleslaw, Mexican corn salad, potato salad, beetroot salad, French salad, Greek salad, hummus with pita, rice, quinoa, roast potatoes, creamed spinach, creamed corn and roast butternut. Add anything you like, and if the family enjoys bread rolls, warm them up and leave them in a basket with butter.
When it comes to desserts, I recommend always having fresh fruit available, and leaving chocolate and other decadent treats that have a lot of sugar in it for the weekends. That way your children won’t get into the habit of always reaching for a chocolate when they want something sweet, and rather opting for a fresh and healthy piece of fruit. Also offer dried fruit that is natural without added sugar. Dates are wonderful, and very sweet. Easy desserts to make for the weekend are chocolate mousse and vanilla cupcakes.
A very important step that must be mentioned, in the execution of meals that can be cooked easily without a hitch, is a clean organized kitchen. Always make sure that dishes are cleaned and put away every night, and that counter tops remain uncluttered. The last thing you want on your hands, above the million things you do each day, is to spend an hour cleaning the kitchen in the mornings before actually cooking meals. Get your partner and kids to help you clean up after meals where no one gets to go to bed (or watch TV) until everything is in order.
Planning family meals needn’t be a daunting task. As long as you’re organized, everything will run smoothly. Have your magnetic white boards or black boards (if you prefer this color) ready as these really help! Jot down everything that you need before ordering online, and your partner and kids will enjoy varied meals that change every day and every week!