Something each of us has to do by choice or necessity is meal plan.
In 2018 I shared more elaborate family-friendly meal plan ideas each week, but I found that there was something missing:
The value of sameness.
I am obviously a big fan of getting nutritional variety in our families. I am also a major advocate for our kids learning to like new foods. But as a stay at home mom of three who tries to work in the random wee hours of naps and night time, I find all the more that I don’t have the margin to make new, elaborate meals (i.e. anything that requires a recipe!) each week.
Instead, it is much more realistic in this season to have meals that I have already plugged into my Love it, Like it, Learning it framework. That way, I know that I can continue to re-expose my kiddos to a rotation of food options each quarter without becoming too reliant on repeating all of the same foods. With this, I also get to cycle through some known favorites while learning new recipes from the repetition of offering them a few times each season.
January 2019 was my first official meal plan, and I can honestly say having this monthly meal plan (that we rotated through a few times) was a huge help. It took the mental energy out of “what to make” each week and streamlined my meal planning, grocery shopping, and meal prep routine tremendously.
That’s why I am yet again sharing our newest family-friendly meal plan for Spring here!
What’s on the menu
There are a few repeated favorites from the first quarter of 2019, like spaghetti and taco night. I have changed up almost all of the other recipes though to include seasonal flavors and preparations (to use the grill over the oven whenever possible) as well more efficient means for making each night’s dinner (like the Instant Pot). I know for many families whether it be that you aren’t getting home from work and daycare pick-up until late or have kids starting soccer or swim and need to do dinner once you get home, dinner time is always a hustle. So although I am sure I will need to lean on doing some meal prep ahead of time to have some order to our new seasonal menu, I also want to be able to manage solo dinners before my husband gets home with a bit more ease and hands-free effort.
Every night’s meal is intended to fit within the Love it, Like it, Learning it framework based on my family’s current food preferences. As group coaching clients know though, any meal can be modified to fit your family’s unique desires and dietary needs. That’s why on each seasonal meal planning download, I offer a blank monthly meal plan as well for you to customize as your own. I hope you will enjoy some of the meal plans I will be offering my family! Remember though that these are intended to offer both ideas and inspiration, as well as to elicit some added brainstorming on your end for what you can and can’t make, do and don’t want to eat. So feel free to customize this in a way that fits your family’s lifestyle and Love it, Like it, Learning it preferences!
In short, here are the rotations for the weeks. Each menu option includes a main protein, starch, and vegetable option:
Sunday: Leftovers. We have small group here, so our own family doesn’t plan a menu for Sunday nights unless it is our turn to cook (which only happens once every six weeks). So I left this as a leftovers space on the seasonal meal plan since I had already planned five nights worth of cooking + one night “off” or out.
Monday: Seafood night. We rotate through the different types of fish or shellfish we have from our Fish Fixe box (see below for more info). My daughters have come to love almost all seafood, and growing up in the Pacific Northwest myself it is something that I want to make a regular part of our rotation.
Tuesday: Mexican or Asian. There are two weeks alternating some favorites from each of these two cuisine types. These make great leftovers too.
Wednesday: Pasta. We love pasta, so I enjoyed finding some new recipes for us to enjoy this Spring with noodles. Bonus is this night also makes for good leftovers to enjoy for lunch.
Thursday: Salad. If you follow me on social media, you know I love Build Your Own Salad Bars with kids. Instead of stacking them up vertically where all the elements are on top of each other, I spread the salad out on a large platter, add in some tongs, and allow the kids to self-serve their own “salads” (whether composed or completely deconstructed).
Friday: Grill. My husband works a lot, so we have pretty much decided that every Friday night we 1) don’t have the energy to go out, and 2) find the easiest way to unwind is out in the backyard where the kids can play and we can kick our feet up in the fresh air a bit. Spring is one of the ideal seasons in Houston, so before it gets so hot we might not want to eat outside, we are soaking up the chance to have ideal grilling weather in the coming few months.
Saturday: Date night or Pizza night. Admittedly, my husband and I have been terrible about making date night outs a priority since our third little one was born. Childcare has been a big hurdle for us, and our date night in intentions often end up by the wayside in the reality of family life. So this Spring, we have secured a new babysitter and plan to alternate family pizza nights in and couple date nights out.
Where we get our meat and seafood
I am an affiliate for both Fish Fixe and Butcher Box. We have bought these for our own family and even gifted them to others, as they offer high-quality, convenient, and cost-effective options for our protein options. I have my thoughts regarding food budgets saved to my Instagram stories if you would like to listen in, but in review I have found that ordering Fish Fixe and Butcher Box has allowed me to:
Keep a better budget with small weekly grocery shopping and bulk ordering our more-expensive grocery items (like meat and seafood) through these monthly subscription boxes
Store proteins in deep freezer so I have proteins on hand at all times, since we don’t live near a grocery store
Meal plan for the proteins that we have on hand or to select our subscription boxes based on the items we need
If you would like to order from either of these options, please use the affiliate links and discount offers below. These won’t up charge you in any way, but they do provide me with a small kickback to help continue my efforts in growing Veggies & Virtue.
Butcher Box: Use this link to claim your $20 off + a package of free bacon
Fish Fixe: Use this link and enter code “VEGGIESANDVIRTUE“ to get $10 off your first order
Want more meal planning resources?
I get questions all the time about meal planning. So to round up all the blog posts, printables, tips, and resources I have written on the subject to date, visit this newly created landing page for all things related to meal planning!
Seasonal meal plans: past and present
Meal planning templates: available for download
Grocery lists: free download, for-purchase tear off pad, my 55 favorites from Costco list
Meal planning how to: my five step process
2018 Meal Plans: six months of menu ideas