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31 Days Challenge- Day 2: Plan Your Dinners- One Family, One Meal

02 January 2012

Today's Challenge- Make a Plan for Family Dinners and establish “One Family, One Meal”

My oldest was about 3 years old when I discovered that in many families the kids ate a different dinner than the adults.

To be honest, it never even occurred to me to feed my kids something different than what I made for my husband and me.  Maybe it was out of pure laziness, but when I made dinner, I made it for everyone. My husband often wasn’t home for dinner, but that was ok, I just saved his on a plate and heated it up when he got home. 

If you are making separate dinners, my suggestion is that you stop.  If you’re not- don’t start...

This does not mean that everyone has to like or even eat the same things- they are, however, served the same meal.

I do not insist that my kids, “like,” dinner. However, they do know that there isn’t any other option. Usually they eat everything, and generally they even like everything, but on the occasions that they don’t, they can usually find some part that they will like. If I’m serving something that has not been a “favorite” of one my children in the past, I’ll serve something with it, that they do like. They don’t get a separate meal. Everyone get’s the same thing, but hopefully there is something there that everyone will eat.

If my kids don’t like a particular part of the dinner, they are more than welcome to pick around it.  However, if, for example, they decide that they only like the bread, they can eat the bread that they were initially served.  After that, if they are hungry, or want more bread (or whatever it was that they liked) they then need to eat some of what they aren’t crazy about. If they say that they don’t want to, that’s fine, but they know that it’s their choice. I don’t argue, but I don’t serve something else.

I recognize that although this works for me, this is what I have always done. If your kids are used to getting something else to eat, this technique will likely cause some initial drama. 

I suggest that you begin to establish “One Family, One Meal,” in a relatively painless and drama free way.  Brainstorm you child’s favorite foods/ favorite meals and use this to plan your dinners for the week.  Choose the best or most healthy options that you have available to you.

If you child will only eat one thing, such as pasta and sauce, serve pasta and sauce (perhaps different shapes of pasta) with a protein and a vegetable every night for the first week. Everyone is served the same thing but your picky child (or children) get a decent serving of the pasta with a small (one bite) serving of the protein and small (one bite) serving of the vegetable.

Over the next few days we’ll work on strategies for getting them to actually try it. But for now, just plan to have it as part of the meal and serve it to everyone. They should see and recognize that everyone is being served the same thing. There is no separate meal. It is the family meal.

If they finish all of the pasta (or whatever it is that they like) and want more, tell them that they can only have more if they eat the rest of what’s on their plate (which should be just one bite.)  If they eat it, they can have more. If they choose not to, that’s ok, but they don’t get served anything else. They are simply, done.

My Meal Plan for the Week

Every family can benefit from meal planning.

It’s the nights (or weeks!) when I don’t have a plan that our eating habits deteriorate. When there’s no plan, I’m busy figuring out what to eat at the last minute and that means we eat whatever is easy and quick, which isn’t always the healthiest option.

As “real life” starts up again this week, I know that our days will likely be busy, hectic, and unorganized. Therefore, I’ve chosen meals that are simple to make, and that I know are always favorites with my family:

Monday: Cheesie Mac
Tuesday: Fried Rice (*I use olive oil and brown rice and don't use the scallions or ginger)
Wednesday: Chili Lime Chicken, Rice, and Lemon Garlic Broccoli (Truly the best broccoli ever!)
Thursday: Rigatoni “Pizza” Bake
Saturday: Make Your Own Homemade Pizza
Sunday: Chicken Corn Soup (using leftover rotisserie chicken) and Rhodes Frozen Whole Wheat Rolls

I would highly suggest that you stick to tried and true family favorites this week, but if you need more inspiration for you meal plans check out: Money Saving Mom's Weekly Meal Plans, Organizing Junkie, or The Peaceful Mom's Easy Meal Planning 

You can find free printables for meal planning at Life Your Way.
Also... I am LOVING this menu planning board from The Clay Family Blog!!

I’ve made this post into a link-up. You can share your meal plan below either in a link to your blog post, or just share it in the comments section.


  1. I was also surprised to learn that children not only ate different meals, but ate at a different time than the adults. That just doesn't work for our family. Supper is an important part of our family bonding.
    Thanks for the great resources!

  2. So true Amanda... and I believe that our kids learn from eating with us. I was fortunate over the past week to enjoy many meals with extended family. It was great to see how everyone interacted and how this encouraged good eating! I believe that eating is more than just nutrition and fulfilling a need for "getting full!"

  3. ^ I agree,! Absolutely.
    Here is a post I wrote last summer about how I plan our meals every day to get all the food groups in. I don't think I would be capable of planning our daily meals without my little "routine".

  4. I think we have a family meal most of the time. Usually when we don't it's my fault becuase I didn't take others into consideration when I made dinner. I can say my 4 year old is often not hungry at dinner time, but he has to join the table with us and he still gets a plate, but we don't make him eat. He eats it later in the evening when he is hungry. Meal planning is also so helpful. I'd never get dinner on the table if I didn't think ahead for that week.

  5. Your 4 year old sounds like my 2 year old. Some days he devours his dinner and other days he eats nothing. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with what's being served- it's just the way he is.


Please add your questions, comments, and suggestions so that we can all learn from each other!

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