Meal Planning, Manners, and Recipes that WORK.
What person doesn't want to sit and enjoy a delicious meal?! What parent doesn't want a peaceful home?!
This is why I believe in the glory of meal rhythms. Some of you do this so naturally, this blog will seem excessively exhausting. But for someone who didn't have a lot of kitchen experience before marriage and motherhood, the following rhythms have been life savers.
So today let's talk MEAL RHYTHMS in three parts and help take the frantic frustrations out of meal time with your family.
Meal Manners+ Expectations
As stated, I am not a natural in the kitchen. This has been hands down the BIGGEST learning curve for me in marriage and motherhood: learning how to cook. It constantly baffles me everytime it's time to eat...AGAIN. And I only have a house of four! Thankfully my confidence is growing, but I still have much to learn.
One thing that has helped take the stress off of feeding my family for me is meal planning. For us this MEAL PURCHASE RHYTHM works:
I have two breakfast options we rotate, lunches are always leftovers or sandwiches, and I plan 6 meals a week for dinner leaving a day for leftovers and a day (usually Saturday or Sunday) to eat out as a family.
Saturday : I place an online curbside order for Sunday pickup.
Sunday after church we pick up groceries for the week while we are already out.
Sunday night is always a "snack dinner" because we eat a late lunch after church. So instead of cooking all I have to do is get the fridge and pantry all set for the week.
*This takes away going to the grocery store multiple times a week.
Also having a plan instantly removed stress from me in many ways.
When I got out of my head that meal planning has to be "elaborate" and "perfectly healthy" is when I found my rhythm. So maybe you need to start slow and build up.
I don't care if your meal plan for the first week of figuring it out is
M: Hot Dogs
Getting in the rhythm of knowing what you will make and having it in your home stops the frenzy and frustration around meal times.
But HOPEFULLY planning ahead WILL help you slowly get to a place of healthy options that nourish your family AND add to the peace of the end of the day. What a BLESSING to have a family to come home to and food to feed them. Meal time should be enjoyable. I hope my heart is heard in all of that.
So let's look at a few Meal MVPS in our home to perhaps spark some ideas.
Meals for success are meals that don't stress me out, break the bank, or make my kids complain 😂. I have a whole note on my phone with a running list, but here are some recent ones we have been putting on the meal rotation.
*** I am not a health consultant or claiming that these are the "best options" for our bodies. This is helpful to us as a family of four (two adults, a 4 year old, and 2 year old)
Sliced Bell Peppers
*All you do is chop and sizzle. Everything goes in one skillet, (spinach last) and I usually serve with rice. The flavors works so well and it's incredibly easy. Takes 10-15 min tops.
Chili with cornbread
Everyone has their favorite recipe. I use :
Ground Beef (cooked first)
One can of red kidney beans
Two cans of diced tomatoes
One Can of Tomato Sauce
Chili Seasoning pack
*I pair it with a boxed cornbread mix. Obviously the longer you simmer the better it is, but it can be a 20-30 min meal.
*My kids devour this. Put it all in a bowl and mix it up. It just works and is easier for them to eat this way than in a tortilla.
This copy cat recipe is delicious and it makes enough for 2-3 meals of dinner and leftovers. It takes a bit longer on the front end but again a one pot meal is a win for me.
Breakfast for Dinner : Frittata/Quiche
This is the BEST recipe. It's so easy. I usually do bacon and cheese or sausage and cheese. Spinach if I have extra around. If I don't have a pie crust I bake this same recipe in an 8x8 Pyrex pan as a crustless frittata.
*I serve with a salad and lots of fruit and it's a great easy meal.
I once heard the quote :
There is no "perfect way" but the best way is the consistent way. I really lean into this idea in parenting.
What does that mean? It means it really doesn't matter what meal rules/expectations you set (every family is SO different, rightfully so) you just have to stand by the decisions you make.
We focus on table habits because
We want to enjoy eating with our kids.
We want to be able to go to restaurants.
We want to travel and not have picky eaters.
It's a life skill that carries into every life season.
For us, ongoing expectations for meals are:
We take time to thank Jesus for His provision and pause to remember His goodness.
A "No thank you bite" is expected. A no thank you bite means you have to have one bite of everything served. After one bite you may keep eating or say no thank you. We don't force our kids to finish their plates. Simply a personal family preference.
You may have as many servings of anything on the table, but a new meal will not be prepared. There have been many meals of one bite of chicken and then a tummy full of blueberries. I'm okay with that. If it's on the table it's up for grabs. But I don't have it in me to make multiple separate meals.
We don't just leave the table, we must first say "thank you" and "may I be excused". If they have asked a quiestion or contributed to the conversation for the evening AND eaten enough to fill their bellies they are excused to go play. We all start together but we aren't formal in ending together at this stage of life. Again, just personal preferences.
Just a reminder to you, parents, habits take a long time to form. After a long day, the last thing you want to deal with is screaming kids and working the endurance muscle as you stand your ground. But think of how much eating your child will do in his/her lifetime.
Learning how to be grateful.
Learning how to conversate.
Learning how to like new food.
It is a worthy thing!
We still daily deal with grumbles, spilling things, playing with utensils, and reminders. It takes times. Take a deep breath. Parenting is a long game. I personally believe it's worth the effort early on.
And for us as the adult: Think of how many meals we are going to make in the life of our children?! It's worth getting a rhythm that adds peace, finding a few meals that work for the family, and mastering the art of food preparation.
Meals can be peaceful and enjoyable as a family, and I deeply want that for you.
Claim Peace For Your Home,
***Don't forget...the Cirkles are cheering you on.