Family Menu Planning FAQ and Monthly Menu Plan

Over the last few months I have had a number of questions from readers about different aspects of my menu planning. So instead of just emailing individual answers, I have collated the questions to share in this post!  I have list the questions below and you can either just scroll down to read the answers, or click on the question and it will jump down to its answer.

If you aren’t familiar with my monthly menu planning process, you can read more about it here:

 

Family menu planning FAQ:

Scroll down to read all the FAQ or click on a question to go directly to its answer.

How do you shop for your monthly menu plans?

We have a multi part process for shopping:

      • Basic grocery items  - I do an online monthly shop. I do at times though mix this up and go do the monthly shop at the supermarket just to the browse the aisles and see what is new.
      • Meat – I buy monthly from a butcher and freeze it.
      • Fruit and veg – each Saturday Mr I gets up early and goes to the market and buys it all there. Some weeks, I will need to top up the fruit on Wed or Thu, depending on the fruit in season and the space in our fridge! We keep the apples in the fridge, so they can take up a bit of space.
      • Bread  - bought on an as needs basis from local bakeries or when I am out and about.
      • Milk – bought on an as needs basis, generally by Mr I in the evening.

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I see you still have soups on your plans and it is summer. Does your family really eat soup in summer?

Yes we will still eat soups in summer. Melbourne is not that consistently hot in summer and I will choose lighter type suits like:

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What sort of slow cooker meals work best in summer?

There are a few slow cooker meals that I happily cook in summer. A couple of the soups in the answer above also use the slow cooker. But here are some slow cooker meals that work for our family:

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You have one day a week where you have left overs for the meal, how does this work?

I originally, many years ago) started adding a left over day in the menu plan, to prevent wastage. I found I was throwing out food when I was cooking a new meal every night.

Now however, our family has grown to seven members, some meals with the stated quantities of ingredients are not enough. Meals like Chicken Schnitzel, Zucchini Slice and Slow Cooker Satay for example, just to make sure I have enough for everyone to eat, I have to increase the ingredients by at least 50%.

So if I want to have leftovers I need to increase the ingredients of meals, some by double. For example, we will have Chicken Balls and Salad for dinner, but I will double the quantities. Other meals I double or increase are:

Most of the time I will try to have a couple of meals before left over day, that will provide the left overs and the kids choose from what is available. Some times I will repurpose the left overs, doing things like:

When I post the menu plans on the blog, like below, I only do meals at the standard size, as it would best fit the needs of most of the readers of this blog. Analysis of the PWK 2013 survey, found that readers of the blog have an average of 2.4 children.

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Do you always eat exactly what you planned?

No, not always. At a guess I would think I stick to the plan about 90% of the time.

Sometimes I may mix the days up if I don’t feel like eating that meal on a particular day. If I have been out and don’t have time to cook the meal, I will use the ingredients to make a different meal that is quicker to cook. If we have friends pop in unexpectedly I will change the meal to make sure it is something that can feed everyone.

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How do you try new recipes amongst your plans?

I have started just adding them to the plan and cooking them as the meal for that particular day. I used to have them as a separate meal in case I mucked it up or the kids wouldn’t eat it, but found this an inefficient use of my time.

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Do your kids eat these meals?

Mostly. Each child has particular favourites they love to eat and they also have a couple of meals that they really dislike to eat. I only ever cook one meal for the family. If they don’t like it they aren’t forced to eat it, but that is the only dinner there is.

You can read more about my approach to meal time with kids here – 10 Things We Do To Make Meal Time Enjoyable (point nine is the most relevant to this question).

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Let me know if you have other questions or tips about menu planning in the comments!

Family menu plan for February

Day


Meal Type

Sat


Wrap


Sun


Meat and Salad


Mon


Vegetarian


Tue


Pasta


Wed


Vegetarian

Thu


Slow Cooker


Fri


Left Overs


Week Starting:
26th Jan
Tacos
Homemade Hamburgers and Salad

Baking: Quinoa Snack Balls
Pumpkin and Spinach CurryPasta with Chicken and SpinachVeggie Stir Fry*Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken
Week Starting:
2nd Feb
Souvlaki
Marinated Chicken Sticks and Salad

Baking: Weet Bix Slice
New vegetarian recipe to try.Slow Cooker BolognaiseRice Paper Rolls with Salad*Slow Cooker Mexican
Week Starting:
9th Feb
Sweet Chilli Chicken Wraps
Sausages and Salad

Baking: Chocolate Zucchini Cake
New vegetarian recipe to try.Zucchini and Pasta SliceScrambled Eggs With TomatoSlow Cooker Risotto
Week Starting:
16th Feb
TacosChicken Balls and Salad

Baking: White Chocolate and Raspberry Cookies
New vegetarian recipe to try.Veggie PastaSlow Cooker Tomato SoupSlow Cooker Satay
Week Starting:
23rd Feb
SouvlakiBBQ

Baking: No bake Lemon and Chia Balls
New vegetarian recipe to try.Baked Penne with BaconVeggie Stir Fry*Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

* For these meals, I am using a recipe that contains meet, but will substitute this with more veggies. I have a very limited list of veggie recipes I cook and want to increase this, hence lots of new recipes to try this month.

This is the zip file which contains five weekly plans with the associated shopping lists – Weekly Menu Plans and Shopping Lists for February 2013

When you create the menu plans in the Planning With Kids Menu Planner App, a shopping list is then created. You can then either use the shopping list directly on your iPhone and check off the items you have, or you can email the list to yourself or someone else.

The app plans Monday to Sunday at the moment and I plan from Saturday to Friday, so Monday in this plan is really Saturday for us and so on.

I have pasted the contents of the shopping list emails into word docs, turned them into PDFs and zipped them together, so they can be easily downloaded. Or you can purchase the App from iTunes and make your own!

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Comments

  1. Julie says

    Hi, I have been reading your blog for a long time and love using your recipes, they are so family friendly! I especially love the school lunch posts as I am always needing inspiration, I have 3 children, the youngest being quite fussy. Thanks for all the great recipes!

  2. Melissa says

    Hi, i am enjoying reading your blog.
    Just before I read today’s post I had put my slow cooker bolognaise on for tonight’s dinner, we get three nights of meals from this, thank you for this great meal idea – it’s a regular on our menu planning. Another meal that is a regular at our place is slow cooker corn beef.

  3. Michelle says

    I have just planned my first month of menus, I am not ready to attempt to shop for a month at this stage with 6 in our household!! However It has taken a huge weight off my shoulders :) It did take longer than 1/2 hour as it was my first time, and I factored in upcoming events for the next month that are in my diary, including afterschool sports etc. I have been loving your blog and find so many things are easy to read and simple enough to apply to my own family, Thankyou x
    I am also sorting through my office at home and trying to streamline this too :)

  4. Kelly says

    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now and just started to plan my meals monthly a few months ago. I use your monthly menu plan template and it’s working really well. I do my shopping fortnightly though so sometimes I change it if I find things on special the week before. Changing the types of meals according to what’s on in the week has also made a huge difference to my time management. Thanks for the great tips!

  5. Sue says

    Hi, love this FAQ! I do a weekly meal plan and then a weekly shop but am now encouraged by you to stretch that to two weeks and then monthly! I’m interested to know what you do with the child/children when you make a dinner they don’t like and it is the only dinner. Do you let them eat a sandwich (as an example) as the alternative? I struggle with this. I have been told if they are hungry, they will eat but I don’t eat something I don’t like, so why should kids?

    • sue says

      > Edited to add that I struggle with the idea of when and if to offer an alternative if one of the kids is fussy about a particular meal.

  6. Elissa says

    I love seeing how other people do it, thanks for sharing. Your post on 10 Things We Do to Make Meal Times More Enjoyable wont let me add comment but I LOVE it too, particularly #9 & 10 removing battle lines. Very helpful. xx

  7. Elissa says

    Me again.. Personal question, just wondering if there is a particular reason you plan so many vegetarian meals?

  8. Jenny K says

    Is the menu planning app available for androids? Is there any chance that is in the pipeline if not?