Wouldn’t it be great if you weren’t doing all the meal planning & preparation alone? Why not enlist the help of family members in the process?
Delegate certain tasks to your kids. If you have young kids at home, try buying them a few of their own kitchen tools (Jake’s tools could be green & Suzy’s could be pink). Who knows, your kids might actually really enjoy baking or cooking if they are involved in the process and have their own kitchen tools to use! Make sure kids know where to find things in the kitchen and pantry. They will have an easier time helping (and putting things back where they belong) when the kitchen and pantry are organized.
Delegate tasks that are age appropriate. Have any family members who are home after a grocery store trip unload and put away the groceries. Kids who can read can take a recipe and gather all of the ingredients for you. Children can help with some food preparation, such as washing produce. Kids learning fractions can find math lessons in the kitchen when they help with measuring. Older children can help with chopping. You could have one child unload the dishwasher while the other one sets the table.
Make the meal planning process a regular weekly activity that the entire family participates in. Spend 15 minutes every Sunday evening to go over your upcoming schedules and to plan out the weekly menu. Have one family member be the scribe and write out the menu & grocery shopping list each week. If you want an easy system for these tasks, check out our family friendly Meal Planning Made Easy system.
A few fun things to try:
Let a different family member choose the meal and/or dessert each night.
Decide as a family to try one or two brand new recipes each week and make it a team effort.
You can also have one family member choose the topic of conversation for that nights’ meal.
Have family members draw their “task” each night from a hat (ie. set table, come up with a fun topic to discuss during dinner, clear table, put food away). This way no one is stuck doing the same task every evening.
You could also have a couple of family members prepare the meal and then those who are not involved in the preparation handle the entire clean up process (while those who made the food relax).
An added bonus to involving your family in the planning and preparation process – they may be more likely to eat the food they had a hand in creating. This is a wonderful tip, especially for those with picky eaters. Let your picky eater choose a new recipe that they’d like the family to try, help create it, serve it (check out the pride on their face) and you may find its a great way to get them to try new things.
Meal planning and preparation can be time consuming and stressful. As they say, many hands make light work. We hope these ideas will help relieve some of the stress and will provide you with fun, new ways to get your family involved in the process.