I’m a pretty good planner– holiday planning, gift planning, project planning or activity planning, the plans are impeccable, if I can say so myself. Execution – um…, so-so. 😉 But one planning which I think I execute pretty well is meal planning. I’ve found that having a weekly menu set, saves me a ton of time, which can be used in doing other stuff and hence this is my Sunday evening ritual, just after we finish our grocery shipping.
I start out by making combinations for the adult lunches and then work around breakfast and dinner based on that. Adult meal planning is quite easy if you ask me. Add a vegetable curry, gravy, rice(on most days) + protein and that’s it. Breakfast is a different cereal – If it’s rice for lunch then its millets/ wheat for the other two. Salads for adults end up in ‘the kid’s snack box, and so everything kitchen related is planned in advance.
Meal planning for kids is the tricky. These are just some reasons :
- A favorite food may not always be a favorite. Cheese on toast one day and why so much cheese on toast the other.
- Getting the right balance of nutrient intake may sometimes be difficult, especially with younger kids.
- New food trial may not always go as planned. Slight variations of familiar food can upset them too 😛
- Back to point #1, there’s always the chance that the kid just wouldn’t “feel like eating” on days, just like us adults.
- The perfect quantity so he’s not terribly hungry by the time he’s back home for lunch
So, what I generally follow is to put together combinations, that are super simple while making sure to pack a good mix of protein, fiber and healthy fats in #ZoesSnackBox and sometimes maybe a treat. The important thing to note here is to make sure it is a finger food. So, here are my quick thumb rules for putting together #ZoesSnackBox, that has found a lot of love on Instagram: (Follow here if you haven’t already)
- Finger foods that can be enjoyed without the mess are the best options for snacks. I try to make sure that at least one of the options in there is something that he will enjoy. That has consistently been guava for a long time now.
- No to sugar or processed food. This should be ideally extended to all meal options and not just snack boxes.
- One protein option in there as that’s essential for growth & development. Our usual protein options are peanuts, cashews, almonds, pistachio and other nuts. Sometimes, seeds like sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Many times, makhana (foxtail nuts/lotus seeds), nut butters etc.,.
- One cereal option: The cereal usually is ghee smeared rotis cut into shapes, boiled or popped corn, dosa/idli, millet semiya/ idiyappam , or toast;
- A fruit / veggie or a salad: For fruits, I try to pack at least one that’s rich in Vit C, and one iron-based food. Like citric fruits and pomegranate are a great option, as they aid absorption of the iron in the system. Pomegranate for iron, Citric fruits, guava or Vit C, Kiwi for folic acid. Water-rich options like apples, melons and cucumbers are also a hit. Because mine loves eating raw veggies and fruits, that’s what I put in there as well. Most importantly, we don’t buy exotic fruits, only those available at the local grocer’s and seasonally.
- The occasional treats for extra hugs: On some days he gets treats as well – like if we bake a muffin or cake at home, then that’s going to be in there. Or readymade, but uncompromising healthy treats like the millet puffs and munchies.
I’ll be sure to write more on this, with a sample meal plan. So keep an eye out.
Let me know if you’d like me to cover any topic.