I have not been so excited about a blog project in a long time. I get to share my love of meal planning (along with some of the detective work that goes along with it) and my love of teaching my friends how to eat better for less money, and my love of cooking for my family!
My goals for these plans are simple. Real food, short prep time (or advance prep time) and large family and kid friendly.
I have a “rule” for my kid friendly meals. Out of my six kids, any meal cannot have more than two “yucks”. I have to allow for at least two, because one of my (unnamed) kids is quite contrary, and each of the others have at least one thing they just don’t like. And that, my friends, is why God invented peanut butter. If at least four of my kids like a meal, I’m still pleasing six family members, so that is a pretty good deal.
I try to minimize box mixes and “doctoring up” things like boxed mac and cheese, but you will see convenience food on occasion. My goal is to stretch you and your cooking skills.
Most meals are 30-minute meals, crock pot meals or freezer meals, but the weekends have some more complex meals slated. It is important for your families to enjoy “slow food” on a regular basis. This is a gift that you give to them, and it can be some valuable family time spent together prepping the meals. I suggest that you set the table in a “fancy” way for these meals. Use your real plates, and if you have China set aside for a special occasion, consider Sunday Supper a special occasion.
Saturdays will be the most kid-friendly of all the meals. They also are the meals that are perfect for teaching a budding cook knife skills. For example, the Jambalaya scheduled for February 6, is what I use when I teach the cooking merit badge to eager young Boy Scouts. Kids who help prepare food are more likely to try new foods.
Feel free to re-arrange according to your schedule. Note that. I did schedule either fish suppers or meatless meals on Fridays for those who abstain during Lent.
You may notice that the menu skews heavily toward chicken. I like that chicken is an affordable protein, and it is extremely versatile. Feel free to swap out proteins as you see fit.
At least three of these meals adapt well to be cooked ahead and frozen, or double the recipe and make two, freezing the second, or bringing to a family in need. They will be marked with a * on the list.
I do not always indicate side dishes. Our family really enjoys rice and we serve several varieties as side dishes. Invest in a nice rice steamer and the side cooks itself! I try to serve brown rice instead of white at least once a week. It takes about an hour in the rice steamer, so plan ahead! I usually set it up in the morning and call home around 4 and have a teen press start in the afternoon. Minute Rice also has a great, quick, mixed grain, rice pilaf available. It is in a white and green box near the instant rice in the grocery store. It is under $3 a box, takes 10 minutes to cook, and is a hit with our entire crew (even the contrary one).
I also ALWAYS have fresh broccoli and green beans to steam. In a month or so I will add fresh asparagus. Fresh veggies steam up quickly and the bright colors appeal to young eaters. I also keep frozen corn and frozen peas on hand. My family will not eat Brussels sprouts (I love them), though they will eat all kinds of cabbage. They are just not very consistent.
If you subscribe to my newsletter, a printable, downloadable, calendar and a link to the Pinterest board will hit your inbox around noon today. If you have yet to subscribe, you will get the printable and link in a welcome email when you do subscribe.
I can’t wait to cook along with you and hear what you and your families think!
Feb. 1: Chick-Ful-A Chicken Nuggets, Sweet potato fries (If your kids will eat them, mine won’t), steamed vegetables
Feb. 2: Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats, rice, corn
Feb. 3: Lentil Alphabet Soup, crusty bread
Feb. 4: Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches, Cole slaw, chips (if you feel like being the “cool Mom”
Feb. 5: Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells*, tossed salad
Feb. 6: Jambalaya
Feb. 7: Roast Turkey Breast with Gravy, mashed potatoes, steamed veg.
Feb. 8: Taco Casserole (make one, freeze one)*
Feb. 9: Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken Tacos, rice
Feb. 10: First Snow Chili, corn bread
Feb. 11: Salisbury Steak Casserole, peas
Feb. 12: Baked Penne*, tossed salad
Feb. 13: Hot Dog Bar (personally, I cannot STAND hot dogs, but this meal makes my family so happy. I eat salad.)
Feb. 14: Marinated Steak, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, heart shaped breadsticks <3
Feb. 16: Cream Cheese Chicken Taquitos, Rice, steamed veg
Feb. 17: Easy Tuscan Bean Soup, crusty bread
Feb. 18: Hot Ham and Swiss Croissants, fruit salad
Feb. 19: Parmesan Garlic Crumbed Fish, fries, corn
Feb 20: Chicken Mozzerella Pasta Pasta, fruit salad
Feb 21: Stuffed Pork Chops, mashed potatoes, steamed veg.
Feb. 22: Chicken Lazone, pasta, tossed salad
Feb. 23: (my birthday, so I will be out for Chinese food!) Creamy Chicken Enchiladas, rice
Feb. 24: Loaded Potato Soup
Feb. 25: Chicken Tetrazini
Feb. 26: Tuna Patties on a bun, peas (my kids used to call these “choo choo” patties!)
Feb. 28: Classic Pot Roast
Feb. 29: Pull the other Taco Casserole out of the freezer!