As easy as Chicken Pot Pie to be exact. In addition to our academic lessons, we have been trying to incorporate more life skills lessons into our learning activities. When it was time for a lesson about meal planning we turned to one of my kids’ favorite dishes to help us get started.
Why was it time to teach my kids about meal planning?
I have two growing boys and they love to eat. It seems every time I turn around they are eating! They do a great job of making their own lunches and finding (fairly) healthy snacks, but recently we realized our dinner menus were no longer very creative.
It seems we had no problem planning our hands-on science experiments, and getting supplies for our history projects, but we weren’t giving one of our favorite subjects – FOOD – the same attention. Since our trips to the grocery store are often after-thoughts on the way home from an activity we were just buying the same items, and making the same meals, over and over.
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After deciding meal planning and prep was going to be the next life skill to work on together as a family I needed to find a new and easy way to help all of us learn about the subject.
The tool we selected = eMeals
Yes, I “Pin” new recipes all of the time, and I have a cabinet full of cookbooks, but sometimes having too many options to choose from can be challenging and overwhelming. We were looking for a tool that was easy to use and included a variety of tasty meals. Thankfully my friend Megan shared her secret – eMeals. She had been using eMeals (and loving it) for about a year and I had never even heard about it.
If you aren’t familiar with eMeals here are the basics – you receive a list of 7 easy to prepare meals each week via email, including recipes (usually involving less than 10 ingredients) and a shopping list. There are 9 meal plans to choose from (everything from classic, low fat, and gluten free to Mediterranean, Paleo and easy gourmet) so there should be something for just about everyone.
The process sounded easy enough so we decided to give it a try.
Our first lesson in meal planning
Selecting a Plan – Although I would have selected Mediterranean or Clean Eating, my kids voted to start with Classic meals. I figured if they were excited about the meals it might make the process even easier.
Selecting a Recipe – We downloaded our first “Family Plan” list of recipes. My boys looked through the list of 7 meals and each selected 1 recipe they would help me prepare during our first week. They looked at the names of the dishes and ingredient lists and quickly realized the meals not only sounded delicious but looked pretty easy to make. Our first eMeal sections were Pizza Casserole and Classic Chicken Pot Pie.
Preparing a Grocery List – A little secret here…the weekly eMeals meal plan comes with a detailed shopping list, but I didn’t tell my guys that at first. We used the recipe to:
- Talk about each item on the list of ingredients
- They went to the pantry or refrigerator to see if we already had the item (this gave us a chance to talk about “staples” vs. items we usually buy when we need them)
- They wrote the items we needed on the grocery list with the amount needed
Grocery Shopping – Using our list we went to the grocery store and my guys each found the items needed for their dish. They read labels, compared prices, and decided which items to purchase for their meals.
Planning the Night to Prepare Their Meal – They each looked at their recipe to figure out the time needed to prepare their dish. Then we looked at our weekly schedule so they could figure out which night they would have time to prepare their meal.
Our meal planning lessons have been a big success!
Here are a few of the benefits we have noticed:
- My kids have developed new skills in planning and organizing and they are very proud of their accomplishments
- They now say cooking is fun – they are boys so they think cooking is really like a big science experiment which makes it even more interesting
- No more picky eaters – they love their own cooking!
- After we walked through the process (above) a few times to make the grocery list, they became very comfortable with the process. Now we can “cheat” and use the grocery list already prepared by eMeals since they are more familiar with the items we need to purchase each week.
- They look forward to preparing meals for family and friends. Since the eMeals Chicken Pot Pie is the “BEST” my son has ever tasted he has already made it for a visiting friend and for his Dad’s birthday meal.
We would love to hear how you have taught your kids about meal planning – please share your comments below!
If your family needs a little help with meal planning, you can check out eMeals: