What’s for Dinner? Homeschool Meal Planning Tips & Ideas

What’s for dinner?  It’s the dreaded question!  You spend your days as teacher, planner, maid, secretary, chauffeur,and now you have to be the cook too?  Well, we want to help. Unfortunately we can’t come to your house and cook for you, but we’re happy to share some meal planning tips! 

Meal scheduling – Use your “free” time on the weekend to plan meals for the upcoming week. There are some great printables and ideas on how to organize your meals at By Your Hands.     Be sure to plan meals around activities.  If Monday is generally a stay-at-home day, this is a great day for more complicated meals.  If Thursday is a busy day with  book club, Johnny’s violin lessons and Suzie’s soccer practice, use that day to plan low-prep meals, or even use meals that you’ve prepared in advance.

Enlist help from the kids – Make it educational!  Everything can be a learning experience, right? Have the kids help with meal plans and teach them about a healthy, balanced diet.  Take the kids grocery shopping.  Teach them to read labels and figure out how to find out which size of soup is the better deal per ounce.   Encourage the kids help with meal prep too..  Measuring cups = fractions!  Older kids can help chop veggies.  Little ones love to pour and stir.  Then, have everyone help clean up – from clearing the table, to the dishes. Remember that these are  good life lessons too.  You don’t want the kids to go to college only knowing how to boil water and cook burnt toast!

Consider cooking once a month – Once a month?  Are you kidding?  Nope.  This Once a Month cooking site not only gives you traditional meals, but vegetarian, gluten-free, and whole foods menu choices.  Fill your freezer with ready-to-eat meals and evening meal prep will be easy!

Prepare staple items  in advance – The weekends are great for preparing items that you use on a regular basis.  Chop veggies like onions, green peppers, and other fresh items on the weekends.  Pop them into a gallon zipper lock bag  and store it in the freezer.  This is an enormous time-saver when you need to cook, but have little time.  Consider cooking meats in advance also.  Use ground meat often?  Look for a sale and buy in bulk.  Cook a large quantity on weekends and then divide it into meal-sized portions and freeze.  Your meat for adding to casseroles, lasagna, stews, etc. will be ready!

Subscribe to a meal planning service –  If meal planning seems like a daunting task, subscribe to  a meal planning service.  We love Add Salt & Serve, owned by a fellow homeschooler. Add Salt & Serve offers free meal plans that can be used as is or customized (with free registration). Quantities can be easily adjusted for recipes and each plan includes an automatically created shopping list and printable meal plan to make dinnertime low stress. The meal plans are freely available on the website, and users can sign up to receive meal plan summaries each week by email.

Buy a crock pot  – Slow cookers can be a little pricey, but they pay for themselves in no time!  Pop all of your food items into the crock early in the morning and arrive home to a nice, home cooked meal.   The number of crock pot dinner recipe sites will keep you stocked with fresh ideas. Some of our favorites can be found on this crock pot site.

Set up a dinner co-op – Homeschool dinner co-ops are an excellent idea for busy schedules.  Find four friends in your local area who would like to participate.  Assign each person a night of the week – Monday – Friday.  If you’re scheduled for Monday nights, then make FIVE containers of lasagna.  Keep one for your family and deliver the four others to your co-op friends.   On Tuesday – Friday, you can sit back and wait for your friends to deliver your yummy foods to you!   You can decide with your co-op whether you want to provide side dishes or have each family do this on their own. It’s also a great opportunity to be able to get together with friends once a month and create your menus.

Follow us on Pinterest – We’ve joined the craze!  If you’re looking for some healthy and easy dinner ideas,  check out our Dinner Planning board on Pinterest. 

Hopefully the ideas above will make that pizza delivery number a little less tempting!  🙂

Do you have any tips or suggestions for making dinner prep easy and ensuring your family has nutritious, home cooked meals?  Share them below!