Oh, how meal planning becomes so much more complicated with kiddo’s, doesn’t it?
One day they like a food, the next it’s deemed inedible. Scratch that, one minute they like a food, the next it’s a complete no-go. Currently, my daughter can’t seem to make up her mind about broccoli and peanut butter…
Let’s first talk about the benefits of healthy meal planning with kids, because boy are they worthy!
Why You Should Meal Plan
- Save TIME!
I hear people say all the time “I don’t have time for meal planning”… and to that, I say, I’m sorry but that’s just an excuse. It takes minimal time upfront but saves you boat loads down the line.
With my personal meal planning system (which you can learn about here for FREE), you can meal plan for your family in under 10 minutes a week. 10 minutes!!
Does that sound doable, or what?!
- Save $$$!
Who doesn’t want to save a few dollars? Meal planning is cheaper, produces less food waste and is more sustainable. That’s a win, win, win!
Learn how to meal plan on a budget in this step-by-step guide.
- Eat healthier!
K, first, let me say this… I am all about balanced eating. This mama LOVES her ice cream and I’m not about to give it up anytime soon. Have your treats but stay on plan MOST of the time. When you have healthy groceries in the house, you are way less likely to choose last minute, unhealthier options.
Additionally, when you cook at home you control everything that goes into your food. That means there are no added nonsense ingredients, no unhealthy fillers or preservatives.
If you are interested in learning how to eat more organic foods on a budget this article is a must-read!
- Reduce Stress!
What if there was:
No more pulling your hair out trying to figure out what to feed your screaming kiddo.
No more scrambling to make food out of nothing.
No more staring aimlessly into the pantry.
No more arguing with your spouse about what to make!
No more making multiple trips to the grocery store each week.
What mama isn’t looking for less stress?!
Alright now that I’ve rambled on long enough about why you should meal plan… let’s get to those top tips for meal planning with kids!
10 Top Tips for Successful Meal Planning for Families:
- Have options.
I know what you’re thinking – I’m no short order cook!
No, I don’t mean making multiple meals for different family members. No mom has time for that! I mean cooking meals that have multiple different ingredients. For example, a sheet pan dinner with a protein and multiple different veggies. That way, if one or two veggies aren’t acceptable to your kiddo that night, he/she will still have other options on their plate! This is also why those bento box lunches are so amazing for kids.
- Pick categories for different nights of the week.
Kids thrive on routine, so they can really appreciate that aspect, but it also helps give you structure and a base for your meal plan. Basically, it saves you time and brain power! Check out my blog post on 15+ Easy and Awesome Meal Planning Categories for busy moms for more inspiration.
- Serve everything at once and let them choose what they eat.
Put the entire lunch/dinner on their tray or plate, so the kids can choose what they want to eat that meal. Let them say no to some things – not everyone will eat every single food every single day, and that’s ok!
I mean, have you ever just not felt like eating oatmeal for breakfast? Imagine if that’s all that was offered to you and was continually pushed in your face. Some days you just aren’t feeling it, and some days they aren’t either. Try not to take it personally and let it go for the day.
- Involve your kids in the planning process.
Kids love to have some control and voice their opinion. Plus they might just give you a good idea for the week.
- Keep a family favorites recipe collection.
In our house we are constantly introducing new flavors and textures, but I do always make a few family favorites each week. This ensures we don’t end up with a bunch of “bust” recipes all in a row.
- Use a template (preferably one you can pin to your fridge!).
Having your meal plan written down helps hold you accountable and reminds you of your meal planning goals. You can snag my free weekly meal planning printable template by signing below.
- Meal prep.
Meal prepping is a huge time saver for busy week nights. I also highly recommend meal prepping your snacks. Whenever someone is hungry you just have to grab a container and go (this includes you, mama!).
- Double up – cook for leftovers.
Cook once – eat twice! Making a large batch and freezing half is every meal planners secret. It gives you a night off in the future!
- Schedule break days/nights.
These are the times you plan to eat leftovers or order in your favourite take out. It will help prevent the dreaded meal plan burnout!
- Don’t give up.
It takes a bit of time to get a system in place and find your groove! They say it takes 21 days to create a habit right?
Ready to start meal planning today?
Grab your FREE meal planning template bundle here:
Can you tell I’m a huge meal planning nerd? Tell me mamas, which tip is your favorite?
Check out my most popular family favorite recipe: Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Muffins (One Bowl, Gluten-Free)
13 thoughts on “10 Tips for Healthy Meal Planning with Kids (+ Free Family Meal Plan Template!)”
With 2 little kids, I am constantly looking for ideas on easy meals for them! Thank you for sharing this
Love these tips! I try to meal plan, but every now & then, I go through periods where I don’t. Life is definitely easier when I do!
This is an amazing list of how to meal plan. I struggle with this every week. I usually make a grocery list before going shopping and scrambling to figure out what to buy and make each night. Also, my kids only ever want to eat chicken nuggets.
My teens are pretty helpful with meal planning. The 4 1/2 year old is a bit more difficult. Great post. Thank you.
This is great. Thank you for sharing. So helpful.
Hi Kinzy, I don’t have children, but I thought I would read your post because I am always interested in any tips on meal planning. I find that it is taking me a lot longer than the 10 minutes a week that you suggest, probably because I am searching for familiar foods that are also healthy and because cooking for one is a lot more complicated.
Anyway, this post is well done. I like that you are not only giving a lot of information about how to meal plan, but are also providing tips and printable planners to help your readers. Good job!
Meal planning is SOO important and can seem tedious with kids. I agree that variety is key. I know when I offer my 2yo more variety she eats more at each meal. I also like scheduling in break nights. I feel these are important to break things up and allow yourself downtime. Thank you for the article!
I definitely agree that meal planning saves time AND money! Meal prep has become the new name of the game at my house – prepping as much as I can on Sunday afternoon makes implementing my plan so much easier!! I also love giving myself a break from meal prep every Saturday. 🙂
Have them help with picking out recipes thats what I am doing ot help my parents. I know I am not a kid but I am at home on spring break so I am trying ot help out finding healthy recipes.
Yes that’s awesome! It’s a lot easier when everyone contributes! Good for you!
Great tips….especially for those picky eaters! My daughter can’t decide from one day to the next what she likes and doesn’t like so you never know!
So so helpful! I love the idea of categories for different nights…makes things routine which my girls love!
Love the tips- meal planning saves me so much time! Our favorite thing is to make big batches of things and then eat it twice that week and freeze the rest for another week in the future.