At Twin Cities Kids Club, we have found that meal planning is a great way to beat that last minute dinner scramble and help save your family money. If you’ve ever struggled to throw together a healthy meal last minute that not only tastes good but can feed your hungry army, then this is the blog for you.
We love giving parents practical and healthy options for meal times, and we want to encourage you to have family meals together as often as possible. You’re not only going to find that you save money, but that you’re building a strong foundation for your family through healthy food options and quality time together.
Tips to Help You Plan
Before you give this menu plan a try, we want to provide you with a few tips for planning your monthly menu and keeping your grocery budget on track.
- When you plan out your meals a month ahead, you are far less likely to resort to last-minute fast food trips or pizza delivery. Meal planning can add up to significant savings for your family, and when you do it for an entire month, you can spread your spending out however you’d like. Some families shop a week at a time, and others spread it out to every other week. Having a set plan provides you with a lot more flexibility than shopping on a whim does.
- It will help you get into a better meal routine if you can give each day of the week a theme. Perhaps try Comfort food Sundays, Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, and Pizza Saturdays. It not only makes shopping and planning easier, but it also keeps the stress of last minute decisions at bay. Get your little ones in on the dinner preparations too. Plan for a day or two a week where the little ones can help you out in the kitchen. On pizza Saturdays, you can purchase premade whole wheat dough and let the little ones roll it out and top it however they’d like to. Little hands love being included in meal preparation, and it’s a great time to bond and catch up with your kids.
- When you plan your meals, consider what is in season. For fall menu planning, consider incorporating lots of squash and root vegetables. For spring meals, opt for dishes that include fresh fruits like strawberries or blueberries.
- Keeping your pantry stocked with all of your favorite ingredients is another excellent way to make sure that you’re not only prepared for your meals, but it also helps cut down on costs. Rather than restocking your pantry all at once, add things to your list periodically that you’re running low on. Pay attention to your local grocery stores sales schedule. Some grocery chains will regularly mark pantry staples like seasonings and canned tomatoes down. Stock up when they’re at their rock bottom price.
- Find a menu planner that works for your family. This one is an excellent Menu Planner from Amazon. Not only is it colorful and compact, but it helps you keep your menu and grocery list all in one spot. It’s easy to stick in your purse and take along with you, and did we mention its only $6.29 with amazon prime?
- One of our favorite tricks for meal planning is to use leftovers from meals to make an entirely new meal. Taking Tuesdays leftovers and rolling them into a fresh meal on Thursday saves you time and money. Double up on your ground beef or chicken and have fun creating an entirely new and exciting dish. We have given you examples of how to do this below.
- Have fun! One of the best tips to meal planning that we can give you at Twin Cities Kids Club is to have fun. We love challenging ourselves and seeing just how far we can stretch a recipe and the thrill of trying something new. Food should be fun, and we want you to enjoy this time with your family.
Now for the part you have all been waiting for, the weekly menus.
A Month of Menus
Below are some ideas to get you started on planning weekly meals. Adjust the plan to fit your family’s needs and wants.
Sunday- Buttermilk Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes
Tuesday-Ground Beef Tacos. Save your leftovers and add chicken stock and black beans to create a whole new meal on Thursday in your crockpot.
Thursday- Teriyaki Chicken drumsticks
Thursday- Slow Cooker Taco Soup
Friday- Spaghetti and turkey meatballs
Saturday- Hawaiian pizza
Sunday- Salisbury Steak and brown rice. Make extra rice this day and use it for Mondays recipe.
Monday- Vegetable Fried Rice
Tuesday- Pork Carnita. Purchasing a large Boston Butt is perfect for this meal, and you will still have leftovers for your Thursday night meal.
Wednesday-Crispy Chicken Thighs
Thursday-Slow cooker bbq pork sandwiches
Friday- Homemade mac and cheese
Saturday- Taco Pizza
Sunday- Ribs and homemade french fries
Monday- Eggplant parmesan. Dice up your eggplant like chicken nuggets and serve it with marinara sauce on the side just as you would ketchup.
Tuesday- Chicken tacos. There can be no easier recipe than this one. Toss frozen chicken breasts into your crock pot and pour a jar of your favorite salsa over them. It tastes spectacular. For Thursday’s meal, reheat the chicken in your crockpot and add chicken stock for a fun new dinner. You can top your soup with diced tomatoes and sour cream to give it that something extra.
Wednesday- Sloppy joes
Thursday- Chicken taco soup
Friday- Pasta Primavera
Saturday- Cheeseburger pizza
Sunday- Meatloaf and scalloped potatoes
Monday- Black Bean Tacos
Tuesday- Smothered chicken enchiladas. When preparing this dish, go ahead and cook and shred extra chicken breast for your dinner on Thursday. You can even add your seasoned chicken breast to your casserole for a spicy and twist.
Wednesday- Vegetable Beef Soup
Thursday- Chicken, rice and broccoli casserole
Saturday- BBQ Chicken pizza
All of our meals in this sample meal plan are entirely customizable. Use our sample menu as a guideline or try them exactly as they are. It’s up to you. You know your family’s likes and dietary needs better than anyone. Remember, dinner time is about gathering around the table with your family and reflecting on your day. Some of the best memories your children will have will involve meal times with their family. Take advantage of this time with them, because before you know it, you’ll be helping them plan meals for their own families.