Meal planning tips for fussy eaters
Planning your menu for the week is a great way to save money and time, as well as reducing food waste. But more importantly, it’s a great way to foster healthy eating habits with your children. Even the fussiest of fussy eaters will benefit.
Meal planning ensures you, as a whole family, are eating a varied, nutrient-rich diet. It also encourages your children to get involved in what they are eating and have their say. This can be by helping choose one of their favourite weekly dinners or shopping for the food. And then, of course, helping cook the meals. You’ll be amazed at what giving a little sense of control over to your children does to their eating habits.
If you stand at the fridge most evenings trying to think what to cook for dinner or find yourself ordering takeaway simply because life is too crazy to find the time to cook, then you need to read these tips!
Meal planning tips
for fussy eaters
Tip 1 – Meal plan seasonally
The typical way most people meal plan if they do it is to plan weekly. You layout the cookbooks or jump online and gather your favourite recipes to find out what you’re cooking. Then you write down a weekly shopping list.
This takes time. Time that you may not have or could be spending it do fun things with your kids.
Instead of spending your Sunday evenings planning for the week, plan your menu seasonally. This means you’ll have a set number of recipes, a list with base ingredients and rotating the meals within the seasons. Not only will it save time, but you’re also saving money by purchasing seasonal produce.
Tip 2 – Identify family favourites
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every night, impressing the family with gourmet masterpieces. Instead, identify some of the family favourite meals that everyone loves. This is really important for picky eaters as you don’t want to shock them with entirely new dishes and foreign ingredients.
Get your kids involved in the process by asking them what their favourite meals are. If your child is old enough, have them look at a recipe book and choose something that they want to make (mostly) by themselves.
Tip 3 - Always include 'safe' foods
If you have a fussy eater, you'll know introducing new foods can be challenging.
When meal planning, make sure you include a few of your child's 'safe' foods into every dish. That way they won't feel completely overwhelmed turning mealtime into a stressful event.
Tip 4 – Select some ‘non-recipe’ ideas
Think of some of the meals you throw together that everyone loves but doesn’t require you to labour over a recipe. It could be a stir fry, veggie omelettes, nourish bowls or homemade pizzas. These ‘non-recipe’ ideas are also a great way to use up any leftovers to limit your wastage.
Tip 5 – Save time and batch it
Save time by including some of your child's favourite recipes which you can batch cook. For example, I love to create a big batch of bolognese which I can then serve with zucchini noddles, adapt to a chilli or stuff into sweet potatoes. Or you simply can create a dish that you can freeze for later in the week or use the following week.
This is a perfect solution for when you’re too exhausted to cook or getting home late from sports or other activities.
Tip 6 - Create a master plan and shopping list
If you’ve planned your menu seasonally, you’ll have a master plan. Write it down on a blank monthly calendar and create a master shopping list for each week.
Once you’ve done this prep, you won’t have to meal plan again until the next season rolls around. You can go shopping once a week and you’ll be getting all the benefits of eating seasonal produce and saving money and time.