Simple Meal Planning Strategy that keeps my picky eater satisfied

How I stay sane with menu planning and satisfy my picky eater at the same time.

I’m sure I’m not the only mom who has that ONE child who just doesn’t really like anything I make. I mean, I think I’m a pretty good little cook. But, if he sees an onion, or smelled it while I was cooking, even though I chopped it up into a gazillion tiny pieces so he wouldn’t see it, he just makes a stink face and forces himself to eat while he acts like he’s going to die! Please tell me this is normal, and I’m not the only one this happens to!

Several years ago I made a chore chart for my family. We each take a certain set of chores and work on them for a week, then we rotate. One of the things I hope to accomplish with my kids is that they will know how to cook by the time they leave home. So, on the weekly chore chart I added “help with dinner”. But, life got crazy and sometimes all of our schedules have me spinning in circles. Some days we were doing great just to have dinner on the table, and it was much faster for me to just whip something up rather than to wait for them to chop the veggies or grate the cheese. I realized I was not giving the kids the chance to eat what they wanted, or the chance to help make it. (Trust me, they weren’t complaining, I don’t even think they noticed!) Then, one day while I was stressing over the weekly menu, and feeling bad that the kids didn’t get a chance to cook as much as I wanted them to, it dawned on me! I love to cook! (Really, I do!) I just hate don’t like  the struggle of sitting down and figuring out the menu for the week. I also know that when I have a menu planned, my evenings are so much less stressful and we have dinner on time, and I’m a happy mom. Then I saw my nifty little chore chart. The kids have a whole week to cook! Why not let them choose what they want to eat on their week? Hellooooo! Why did it take me forever to figure this one out?


I got out my recipe books and started typing away. I made a list of all of the foods we normally eat, and some we had not eaten in a while, but that we like. Then the rest was so simple!

Simplified menu planning that satisfies my picky eater

I sit the kids down and give them the list of dinners. If you’d like to print off our menu as a starting place for yourself, click here. Remember, all families eat different foods, so add the ones you like. 

Then the kids pick what they want to eat on their week. After looking at our schedule I assign the meal an evening, according to how much time I’ll have each day . I do the shopping, and (theoretically) we make the dinner together. Sometimes the kids have sports or work and they are not home on their night. But, they get to eat what they want on their week. This was a struggle with my picky eater in the beginning, because we were all stuck with eating ramen, bean burros and hot dogs for a week. But, we could survive ONE week of his menu if he had to survive seven weeks of ours! (There are eight of us, so it takes 2 months to get through each of our weeks). And guess what?! My picky eater has branched out! In fact, this week is his week and here’s his menu:

Simple meal planning that keeps my picky eater satisfied


 A few rules I had to establish because of the size of my family are: 

  1. You cannot pick a meal that we’ve eaten in the last 2 weeks.
  2. I get to choose which day of the week we eat each meal. (According to the family schedule)
  3. I reserve the right to add a meal that I want to eat every once in a while. 

My next steps will be to color coordinate the meals according to how they are prepared. I saw a fantastic idea about  color coding the meals from Nicole over at 365ish Days of Pinterest. I’m going to figure out a way to make this work for our family. I’ll update when I revise my list.  Then, the next step after that will be to help the kids plan a shopping list and go shopping for their week. This should help give them the tools they need to fully prepare meals when they leave home.

 How I simplified my menu planning for the week and keep my picky eater happy at the same time.