It is never too early to introduce your children to meal planning. I grew up in a very traditional household. My father worked a 9-5 job and my mom stayed home and took care of the house and children. She probably didn’t have any idea what the power bill cost, and my dad couldn’t have said what the S shaped blade on a food processor was for if his life depended on it. Vacations involved driving to either grandmas or the beach in the family station wagon. We played 20 questions in the car, or the alphabet game (finding different letters on license plates). My mother and father gave us the traditional chores – make your bed, clean your room, vacuum, dust, unload the dishes, set the table, clear the table. With all those chores, one of those was not meal planning, and I wonder why not?
Meal Planning for Children
When we were young (3 children under 6), I can only imagine that it was a daily miracle for my mother and father to keep their heads above water. I remember very well learning how to test the limits – sometimes it was easier for my mother to do the chores herself rather than nag us about it. I’m sure I’m looking at this through rose tinted glasses, but once we got older wouldn’t it have been a help to involve us (and my father) in meal planning? Maybe we would have learned to appreciate her daily efforts to put not only breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table.
A Few Ideas to Get Started
Including your children – even young children – is easier in meal planning than you think! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Young children – allow them to pick the vegetable for the dinner a few times a week. An added bonus – how can they refuse to eat the vegetable when they picked it? Make a rule that you can’t repeat a vegetable for a month.
- Elementary to middle school children – start to teach them how to use kitchen appliances safely, like the stove, blender and toaster oven. Make meal preparation fun by putting on music. An added bonus – give these kids a bigger role in clean-up. Meal planning sometimes should take into account how much time you have to clean up!
- High school children – These kids should be able to plan and cook a healthy nutritious meal all on their own. If he or she is over 16, they can even go to the grocery store and get ingredients. An added bonus – free night for you – you could even have them serve you dinner as if you were in a restaurant!