Menu Planning – The Children’s Input

I have been doing meal planning now for over 4 years and it is something that almost everyone in the house is aware of. The exception is our 20 month old, also known as “baba ganoushki” (I know that this is the name of popular Middle Eastern dish, but has somehow the name has stuck to him), who is oblivious to most things unless it is a car or a ball.

There are many benefits to meal planning, but one of my favourites is that as the kids know that I do this and that they will tell me what they would like to see on the menu. Between the oldest 3 children they generally come up with 4 – 5 meals for the week that they would like. Given that we generally have one night a week that consists of what is left over from other meals, I often only have to come up with 1 -2 meals myself.

This does mean however, that you will see certain meals being repeated with a high level of frequency, for example sausages and vegetables/salad will pretty much make it every week because it is a favourite meal of all 3.

It is also an opportunity to help children understand the concept of seasonal foods. After cooking a beef casserole at the defiant request of our “Little Rascal”, on a 35 degree day, he could then understand how having the oven on for that long made the house hot and you often don’t feel like eating something that warm and filling on a hot day.

Monday: Home made pizzas

Tuesday: Salad Rolls – We are going to see a children’s play, so will pack these into our picnic basket.
Rice Bubble Treat – See the recipe below.

Wednesday: Sausage and vegetables

Thursday: Chicken Korma with poppadoms. Our “Thinker” came up with this one, via asking what is the meal that we have that we get to have poppadoms with?

Friday: Fresh pasta with Chicken and Baby Spinach – See the recipe below

Saturday: Left overs

Sunday: Chicken Schnitzel and Salad

Here are the two recipes mentioned above:

Fresh pasta with Chicken and Baby Spinach

500 grams fresh pasta (I buy this from the supermarket, either Latina if it is on special or San Remo. The kids like the spinach and ricotta filled types best.)
690 mls Pasta Tomato Sauce (Coles does a great organic basic one)
2 chicken breast fillets, diced
150 grams baby spinach leaves
Olive Oil
Cracked black pepper
Parmesan Cheese

I like to cook the sauce first and then boil the pasta up just before we eat. I will often make the sauce in the morning and reheat it at dinner time. However as it is a pretty quick sauce, the pasta can be cooked about half way through the sauce cooking process.
1. Dice the chicken into small pieces.
2. Add oil to a saucepan/frying pan and when at a medium heat add chicken and brown.
3. Once chicken is cooked, add the pasta sauce to the pan and reduce heat to simmering.
4. Cook pasta as per packet instructions and drain well.
5. Place pasta into bowls and then add a handful of baby spinach leaves to each.
6. Spoon sauce on top of the baby spinach, then top with shaved Parmesan and cracked pepper as desired.

Rice Bubble Treat

3 tablespoons butter
250 grams white marshmallows (I often by the home brand pink and white ones and they work fine too.)
6 cups of Rice Bubbles (again the home brand version is fine)

1. Line a slice tray with baking paper.
2. Place the rice bubbles into a large bowl
3. On a low heat, melt the butter in a saucepan.
4. Add marshmallow to the butter and stir until they are completely melted.
5. Pour marshmallow mix into the bowl with rice bubbles and combine well.
6. Press mixture into the tray. (If it is sticking to your hands, try wetting them slightly with cold water.)
7. Put in the fridge to cool and set.
8. Once set, cut into desired shape. I tend to go for rectangles about 5cm x 3cm.

Have fun cooking and enjoy your week.