I very well may have the pickiest eater on the face of the planet, which spurred my meal planning mission.
When dinnertime rolls around, I cringe at the thought of having to cook and hear the complaints yet again. My youngest is by far my pickiest. The list of foods that he refuses to eat are based on size, shape, color, texture, whether he has ever seen it before, the name of the food and any other excuse he can think of.
He will eat pizza, but only Mommy’s pizza… sometimes. He will eat pasta, but not with red sauce on it. He will eat bread, but not if it has seeds, oats, nuts, or anything foreign in it. He will eat smooth peanut butter, but not crunchy. The list goes on and it is exhausting to keep up with, as it also changes based on the angle of the sun, number of flowers in the garden, whether or not his toy was in the right spot, and (insert random reason here).
So, I did what every Mom does in order to have a peaceful meal and minimize tantrums at dinner. I created a weekly meal plan that takes into account all of his preferences and ever-changing whims (and boy are they ever-changing) but also pleases the adults. If you have a picky eater like me, I salute you, Mama. And I offer you my weekly meal plan because ready or not… here they come and they are hungry!
Pasta Monday. Growing up, we used to have pasta for dinner at least once a week. The thing I love about pasta is that you can sauce it up all different ways to please even the pickiest of eaters. As I have already mentioned, my picky eater doesn’t like red sauce. BUT, he will eat pesto sauce and a bunch of other sauces which allows me to vary the pasta dish each Monday. I serve this meal with a green salad and loaf of fresh-baked bread from the bakery section of the grocery store. If you want to amp-up the veggies, serve steamed green beans alongside this meal. I like to mix the green beans in with my pasta and sauce.
Taco Tuesday! That’s right. It is on repeat at our house because tacos are something that kids and adults can agree on! The picky eaters go with the meat and cheese while the adults can add salsa, guacamole, lettuce, and beans to please their palates. The book Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin is a great addition to this meal and will put a smile on the face of your picky eater as they sympathize with the dragons who don’t like the red stuff with weird green things in it.
Mixed-Up (Grill) Wednesday. Also known as clean-out-the-freezer night. I don’t know about you, but I tend to have one-off items in the freezer like a chicken breast or a hot dog or a hamburger patty. Why not just throw it all on the grill and bring a platter of mixed meats to the table? The kids think it’s funny that nothing on the platter matches and that they get to pick their own meal. Meanwhile, Mom wins because everyone is happy and she has no guilt in snagging her favorite off the platter. Serve with whatever sides you and your picky eaters enjoy.
Takeout Thursday. This is my favorite night of the week. We serve leftovers to the picky eaters and the grown-ups order out! We get anything our heart desires (read: sushi) and Mama gets a break from cooking.
Pizza Friday. Make way for a fun and delicious meal. Pizza Friday can be as elaborate as you want it to be. To fit the bill for quick and easy, simply grab some pre-made personal size crusts (you can use Boboli, Naan bread, a Pita, or even a loaf of french bread hollowed out and cut into 6-inch sections). Arrange all of the toppings on the counter buffet-style and let the kids go to town with a create-your-own pizza bar! Bake the creations in the oven until the cheese is melted and enjoy all of the smiles, empty plates and full bellies! As a tip: serve cut-up fresh veggies alongside the pizza bar for them to snack on while they wait for their pizza to bake.
Saturdays are for Leftovers. Our Saturday schedule tends to be more flexible than our Monday through Friday schedule. Dinner is sometimes later than normal due to activities, birthday parties, family gatherings or yard work. Knowing that dinner can be ready within 5 minutes of when huger strikes is a huge benefit and a relief to a tired Mama. When you are ready to eat, simply pull all of the leftovers out of the fridge and arrange on the counter, let each person fill up their plate with what they want to eat, heat plates in the microwave if necessary and enjoy!
Improv Sundays. I reserve Sundays to try a new recipe or use up ingredients from the fridge that are getting close to life expectancy. Our Sundays seem slower and allow for extra time in the kitchen, which I enjoy.
The key to this weekly meal plan is to keep it simple and consistent. You know what your family likes, so customize this plan to what meals fit best for your family preferences/needs/dietary restrictions. Other ideas might be “Breakfast for Dinner,” “Seafood Saturday,” or “Stir Fry Sunday.”
Are there any themed meals that you keep on #replay at your house? Let us know by leaving a comment!