Stress-Free Family Dinner Planning

Stress-Free Family Dinner Planning
UPDATE:  We've been following this plan for about eight years now, and I couldn't be happier with the results.  All three children learned to cook, and two of them are quite accomplished at making complicated meals.  My husband has also become very handy in the kitchen!  And I accomplished my original goal, which was to make time in the kitchen enjoyable again. 

A few years ago, I had come to dread the daily question of “What’s for dinner?”  I was in a rut for recipes, at least one child would most definitely hate whatever I made, and the thought of even stepping foot in the kitchen was overwhelming.   Something had to give. 

I decided to use a tactic I had learned when our oldest was a toddler, and I put the ball back in my family’s court, with a certain set of rules.  Here is what I told them:

The older two would be responsible for thinking of 2 meals per week (and the youngest child immediately volunteered herself to come up with one, which was great.) This left one meal for my husband to plan, and I only had to think of one dinner per week! 

Meals must be mostly healthy.  No meal choice could be repeated in back to back weeks (this was to get us out of that recipe rut.)

No one could complain about anyone else’s choices.   The only person allowed to be unhappy with how something tasted was the chef.  This guaranteed that each person would have 1-2 meals per week that they truly loved. 

Choices must be told to me no later than Thursday night since we go to the grocery store on Friday.  Failure to do any of the above means Daddy is in charge of dinner. (While my husband as many admirable qualities, making a good dinner in a timely manner isn’t always his strong suit. Since the kids don’t like to be hungry, this was a good incentive to get them to help plan meals.)

I launched my plan with high hopes … and it exceeded all expectations.  The kids were happy at dinner, everyone was at least trying foods without complaint, they started researching and falling in love with new recipes, and I enjoyed being in the kitchen again. 

Looking for some ideas?  I have recipes posted on my blog WITHOUT you needing to scroll through long stories!  Both the image and a link to print are right at the very top. 

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