Simple Menu Planning

Breakfasts

We’re very non-traditional when it comes to breakfasts. I believe that prepared cereals are basically junk food, and they’re expensive for what you get.

My breakfasts tend to be cooked vegetables, whatever is in season. Or I rely on frozen vegetables, which I thaw and cook with seasonings.

I’m also a fan of smoothies – they’re quick, healthy and very tasty, and by making up a bulk smoothie I can feed the whole family, with just the smoothie plus some fresh fruit.

Sunday mornings are pancake morning – I make them with wholewheat flour, and they fill the kids up for most of the day.

Lunches

I fill my kids’ lunch boxes with as many vegetables as I can manage, and we don’t buy expensive, unhealthy junk foods. I’m continually amazed at the amount of junk food that is marketed for kids under the guise of “natural” and “healthy” labels.

Put bluntly, if it comes in a box and / or a wrapper, it isn’t healthy.

My kids snack on raw nuts and seeds, baby carrots, raw broccoli and cauliflower florets, cherry tomatoes, fresh berries (when available), fresh fruit, celery sticks, raw mushrooms…whatever I can find in the produce section that will fit in their lunch boxes and can be managed in bite-sized pieces.

For me, I buy tins of crushed tomato when I’m feeling lazy, and eat it chilled as gazpacho…or I’ll make a salad for lunch…or I’ll cook up some quinoa and have it with balsamic vinegar and some roasted veggies.

Evening meals

Rotational menu planning for dinner times makes life so much easier. And let’s face it – don’t we all want mealtimes to be easy!

I love to cook, but I used to find getting a healthy, balanced meal on the table every single day of the week hard work.

Over time, I’ll add links to some of my favourite recipes here.

Sticking to a plan:

  • Helps keep my budget in check. I know what I’m going to need from week to week, so avoid wasteful spending on unnecessary items.
  • Takes the guesswork out of dinnertime. I know what we’re having each day of the week. So easy!
  • Enables me to take advantage of discounts. If I know we’ll be eating chicken on Thursdays, I can stock up at the butchers because I know we’ll use it.
  • Helps me teach the kids how to cook. Easy, fast recipes are a great starting point for teaching kids lifelong skills.
  • Keeps us away from junk food. Having a plan avoids last minute “what should I cook?” stress, and stops me relying on junk food and instant meals.

Our rotational menu plan

We eat vegetarian five days a week, and meat two days. The vegetarian days are light on dairy as a general rule.

Monday (V): Eggs. Options include: Omelettes, hard boiled eggs, crustless quiche, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, egg drop soup, gado gado…

Tuesday (V): Tacos. Options include: tacos with beans…Soft tortillas or crunchy shells…in winter we use grated carrot and fried diced onion instead of expensive salad vegetables…

Wednesday (V): Vegetarian. Favourites include: lentil and broccoli stew, tofu done with sesame oil and soy sauce, pistachio crumbed tofu, pasta with tomato sauce, pasta with mushroom sauce, three colour quinoa, roasted vegetable salad…

Thursday (V): Italian Day. My family loves: Macaroni cheese, pasta with tomato sauce, pasta with mushroom sauce, tortellinis stuffed with mushrooms, spinach lasagne, pasta puttanesce, vegetarian pizzas… I make the sauces up in advance in bulk and bag them in the freezer, then it’s just a quick thaw.

Friday (M): Meat. Options include: Hamburgers, sausages, steak, meat pizza,
apricot chicken, chicken drumsticks with Moroccan seasoning, lemon chicken…

Saturday (M): Meat. Options include: Roast, steak, roast chicken, fish, chops, barbecue… Saturday is usually our big meal / roast day.

Sunday (V): Pancakes and Toasties or Soup. We fill the kids up with lots of pancakes on Sunday mornings, then they’re full right through until dinner. Soups include minestrone, pumpkin, tomato, lentil, chicken noodle… Serve with fresh crusty bread and it’s a meal by itself!

And all the extra veggies and fruits…

In winter we make a lot of use of frozen vegetables, and always make sure that most of our plate is vegetables, with three or four different types for each meal together with the main dish.

In summer, we rely heavily on the garden (that reminds me, must get the lettuce in!). Salads are our go-to side dish, although it often takes up more space than the main meal!

Together with the vegetables, we usually add a carbohydrate: often rice, pasta or quinoa. I’ll make double the amount, and serve it over two days, which saves on work. I do the same with any vegetables I’ve cooked. Anything to make things easier!

My family eats a lot of fruit – usually 5-6 kilograms (11-13 lbs) a week for the four of us. I’ll grab whatever is in season and cheap and it is always available for a snack – I don’t restrict it.

3 thoughts on “Simple Menu Planning

  1. Pingback: Creating our own traditions | Simple living…with kids

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