feeding a family of five
Motherhood

Meal Planning for a Family

feeding a family of five

I’ve had a couple of questions lately about meal planning and how I do it.  There is no exact science, but I’d be happy to share what has worked for me and my family of five.  It is a lot of work to plan and prepare meals for your family.  With my twins now being one year old and having fully embraced solid foods, I feel like I am constantly preparing food or cleaning up.  Kids are always hungry, so having lots of awesome easy stuff on hand will make your life easier.

Meal planning is all about having the right things on hand and knowing what you’re making in advance.  I like to start by opening up my favourite cookbooks and popping over to Pinterest.  Searching for meal and recipes is how I create my grocery lists.  Pinterest is a great resource for me.  I will search out recipes starting with words like “quick” or “easy” then type in what I want to make.  So many ideas pop up that compliment the same ingredients so you aren’t buying a million random things to make the dishes.  For example, if I type in “Easy Mexican Chicken Casserole” , so many amazing recipes come up, like this one here that I tried and the family really liked.  Even the Babies!  You can then select another meal or two like tacos and a rice dish that might use some of the same ingredients.

family meal ideas

One of my absolute favourite cook books.  It was gifted to me and I use it all the time.  

So now that you have some amazing recipes to make this week, write out your list of what you are going to need to make it happen.  For me, there are always the real basics that we always have on the list….eggs, bread, pasta, COFFEE, etc.  Here is my list of other items I always like to have on hand for easy meals and baking.

Canned, Carton, & Frozen Goods:
  • cans of black beans
  • cans of chick peas
  • applesauce
  • organic chicken broth
  • stewing tomatos
  • cans of corn
Grains:
  • brown rice and or Quinoa, pasta
  • bread, buns, pita, pizza shells
  • quick oats
Produce:
  • bananas, apples (whatever else I find on sale + in season)
  • avocado (when well priced)
  • potatoes, carrots (root veggies in the winter, and then whatever else is in season)
  • mushrooms
  • onion, garlic, green onion
  • grape tomatos
Meat/Fish/Alternatives:
  • organic whole chicken
  • white fish (I usually don't buy this too far in advance. Day of or day before for freshness)
  • vegan sausage  (apple + sage field sausage is a fave of ours)
  • veggie ground round  (chillis, tacos, nachos, sauces, etc)
Dairy/Alternatives:
  • coconut milk
  • almond milk
  • organic 2%
  • coconut milk yogurt
Condiments / Baking:
  • honey
  • maple syrup
  • hot sauce
  • dark chocolate chips
  • cacao powder
  • shredded coconut
Snacks:
  • hummus
  • crackers
  • cheese strings

healthy kid lunch

healthy kid lunch

I made the simplest lunch yesterday and it was so good!  Pita bread stuffed with hummus, tomato, cucumber, and guacamole.  I had some left over quinoa so added a spoonful of that too.  The babies had a deconstructed version.  Madelyn gobbled hers up and asked if we could have the same thing for dinner too.  A win!  

twin mom

Once I have my groceries purchased, I sit and write out my meal plan for the week.  I like to write mine out in my day planner as   I take things like activities and events when planning out the week too.  If one night a week is a bit of a gong show for dinner because of soccer, dancing, etc.  make that your soup and grilled cheese night.  Not every night has to be a gourmet masterpiece.  There is also no shame in keeping a couple of frozen pizza’s on hand for those days that just don’t quite come together.  A typical day for us would be:

Breakfast: Usually oatmeal + fruit (we also rotate toast and cold cereal in there too)

Lunch: Usually Soup of some kind (also do Mac & Cheese a few times per month, sandwiches, healthy pancakes, sandwiches, and wraps)

Afternoon Snacks we love: homemade muffins, healthy homemade cookies, fruit of any kind, cheese & crackers, smoothies, granola bars (Lara Bars are our favourites) , carrot sticks + hummus

healthy kid snacks

Dinner:  I actually mix it up quite a bit.  I use a lot of recipes that I have pinned to my Pinterest board.  You can check it out here for some meal inspiration.  One thing I’ve learned is that you have to be flexible to the plan too.  Sometimes something comes up last minute, or you are missing an ingredient, or it’s just been one of those days.  Don’t get flustered, just bump things to the next day and crack out your emergency box of Mac & Cheese.  You are not failing if you have to switch things up a bit.  Simply regroup the next day or even the next week.   I tend to leave weekends unplanned but have things around to whip up something and occasionally you just have to order in to give yourself a break.  There are also great companies out there that offer up prepped ingredients + recipe like Fresh Prep.  See my post about them here.

How about you?  Do you like to meal plan? Or would you rather just wing it?  Comment below.

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