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Please enjoy this guest post from Kristen who blogs at Musings of a Curious Mind.
For busy moms, providing meals that are affordable and healthy yet kid-friendly can be a challenge. When you’re pushed for time, it’s all too easy to cut corners and rely on takeaways, ready meals and packaged foods which are high in sugar, salt and preservatives. You might find yourself making nightly trips to the grocery store to pick up something for dinner, and coming back with a whole host of groceries you didn’t plan to buy. Lots of these are never used and eventually spoil. Pre-packaged meals are also often more expensive than meals made from scratch – you’re paying for the convenience. If you want to provide your family with food that tastes great, does them good, and that they’ll enjoy eating, meal planning is absolutely essential.
One way to simplify meal planning is to establish theme nights for family dinners for every day of the week – for example, spaghetti on Monday, pizza on Wednesday, burgers on Friday, and so on. This takes all of the guesswork out of nightly meals. Getting the family to help pick what they like can make everyone happy. In addition, it means that you can stock up on the ingredients you’ll need for several weeks: for example, parmesan cheese, herbs, tomato paste, whole wheat flour and toppings for pizza night. This means fewer trips to the grocery store, which will definitely save you money in the long term. It also enables you to buy only the ingredients that you’ll need for these planned meals, so you’ll have less food spoilage. Also, better and fresh ingredients rich with vitamins and antioxidants can help guard against cardiovascular disease, cancer such as various types of mesothelioma and dementia.
Go through your favorite recipe books. You should try to involve your kids as much as possible in the selection of meals – the more involved they feel, the more likely they are to eat the food once it’s served. You can also try online recipe databases for more inspiration. Pick seven dishes that are versatile enough that they won’t become boring, but don’t require dozens of ingredients or hours of preparation. The aim of this exercise is to save you money and time. Once you’ve amassed your recipes, write out the plan for the week, and what meal you intend to cook each night. Check this against any appointments or events to avoid clashes. Draw up a grocery list for the week’s meals, and if possible try to plan where you can use leftovers and surplus perishable food such as meat. You can switch up your meal plans every month to make it more fun and keep your kids from getting bored.