Does it seem like you are always asking your family what they want to eat? It definitely feels like that in my home. At dinner, I’m curious about tomorrow’s lunch. At breakfast, I am wondering what they want to have that night for dinner. Any busy caregiver knows that answers to these questions are essential for a streamlined week with fewer stops at the market. The challenge is getting your family on board with thinking ahead right along with you. If not, you know the story ends with you preparing a meal that no one wants to eat.
There are many ways to engage your family in meal planning. Regardless of the method you select, one thing you know for sure is that your family has to be involved.
Have culinary magazines, such as CookingLight, or one of many free recipe magazines available at the supermarket, around your home for your family to look through. Keep a sticky pad nearby so that recipes can be tagged. Maybe go one step further and have the family member that picked the recipe write their name on the tag so that they can be involved in the preparation.
Use the Weekend
For your sanity, and because you are more likely to have the attention and help of your family, try new recipes on the weekend. You will be able to assess the winners and losers as well as determine what recipes you can actually pull off on a busy week night.
Let’s Talk Tech
There are a plethora of websites, apps and e-newsletters devoted to helping you find new recipes to match your family’s preferences. There are also many opportunities through social media to be inspired throughout the day. Use these tools to generate new ideas for your family. And don’t forget that we have a star-rated database of hundreds of great recipes.
Everyone a Chef
If your spouse is a grill master, make it known that all grilling recipes will be going to him/her. If your son is into Asian food, invite him to join you in the kitchen (or at least help pick the recipe) when an Asian dish is on the menu. Same goes for other family members and recipes. This engages your family and gives you support in the kitchen.
Turn on the T.V.
FoodNetwork, Cooking Channel and On-Demand programming are some examples of cooking channels that will introduce your family to new recipes and important cooking tips and skills that make preparing meals easier. For small children, look for cooking shows like, Hey Kids, Let’s Cook (on PBS), which combine entertainment for kids with the preparation of healthful, kid-friendly recipes.
Use Special Occasions
Birthdays, holidays, class parties and get-togethers are the times you can “justify” all of the questions about the menu and likely engage your family more in the process. Use these opportunities to your advantage and stretch the recipe search while you have their attention.
Get a Binder
A binder, complete with notes about who liked the recipe and suggested modifications, will keep those recipes organized as a personal cookbook. Of course, you can also create it on your tablet or phone. But, if your kids are like mine they will no doubt be playing a game in minutes, while you are still left asking what they want for dinner.
Do you find home cooking to be stressful? Scientific Advisor talks about a study that points out that the pressure to cook at home is tough for many families and offers some down-to-earth advice for nutrition without stress. »