A few weeks ago I put a dry erase board (made from a photo frame) above the sink and started listing a weekly menu – and by default, began a new system of meal planning. I was surprised how much everyone enjoyed knowing what was going to be for dinner. I was most surprised how much my husband appreciated knowing what he would be coming home to after work. Previously, dinner was an impromptu decision that happened oh – around 5:30 each night.
The small notebook shown in the photo is where I jot down items to pick up at the grocery store. It’s handprinted from Vermont Vittles.
Then, the kids got involved by wanting to help make the menu. I took that opportunity to get them more involved in the kitchen and start helping to make dinner. Now all three of them have a night where they each make dinner. Obviously, I help a lot – especially with my three-year old. But my hope is that soon, the two older girls will have a couple dinners they can make by themselves, for the family.
After a few weeks of working out the tweaks I found them taking turns every other night works best. No one likes cooking on Saturday or Sunday because they would rather be playing outside and riding bikes with dad. So for now on they will cook Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They are not allowed to cook the same thing two weeks in a row. And they must prepare an all round balanced meal. It is all based on eating real foods, like what we did for the Real Food Challenge.
Last week my middle girl made bow tie pasta with red sauce and shredded cheeese, with raw carrot strips. My little girl helped with fish taco night, making the beans, rice, fish, and getting out all the fixings. My oldest girl ended up getting out of dinner last week because of our surprise snow day. But the week before she enjoyed making fried okra, roasted asparagus, noodles and red sauce. I made Minestrone soup and grill cheese sandwiches. One night we had manderine orange veggie (faux) chicken, sweet potato fries, kale, cheesy cauliflower, and scrambled eggs. It’s all basic stuff, inspired by what was in our CSA box, what struck me as interesting at the grocery store or the feeling that everyone needed an extra boost of protein.
Here’s what’s on the menu this week.
Sunday – middle girl cooks – Chicken tenders breaded in fresh corn meal, roasted carrot strips, “lettuce salad” from roman lettuce with cut spinach and vinaigrette. (We also had a block of cheese on the table for the non-meat eaters.)
Monday – cabbage potato soup and spinach, feta scrabbled eggs. (With left over chicken tenders, beans, hummus and pittas for the soup protesters.)
Tuesday – little girl cooks – French toast and fruit kebabs
Wednesday – Spaghetti night with veggies from our CSA.
Thursday – Spinach Frisbees (from the cookbook One Bite Won’t Kill You) and sweet potato fries.
Friday – oldest girl cooks – Tomato soup (from the Southern Living Kids Cookbook) and grill cheese sandwiches in the panini maker.
Saturday – we go out for dinner!
Here’s a few snapshots of the kids making dinner….
(Please ignore the clutter in the background that did not belong on that table. It shows we are not perfect here. But my oldest girl was SO proud of making dinner that night, it’s worth the shot – and the added play dough dinner on the table)