Teaching Homesteading: Meal Planning
Since our son turned 3 this winter we have started really getting into more planned teaching skills and schooling. Last year we did a few simple unschooling months (30 Days of Colors and 30 Days of Shapes) to get him into a better routine and to kick-start the learning Â and to begin preparing him for preschool. One of our big focuses has been on teaching him life skills and things that he will need to know for the future. Since we are a modern homesteading family of course this means for us to teach him our homesteading ways!
Each month I’ll be sharing with you something new that we are teaching at our household and give you some tips and ideas on how you can teach it as well. These aren’t your “traditional school” courses such as math, science, etc, but life skills that will be helpful for living!
Meal Planning is something that’s important to us here on our homestead. Our local grocery stores are expensive and have a limited selection so we’ve chosen to buy the majority of our food once a month through Azure Standard and also some from Costco when we make a trip to the big city. I need to plan out our meals a month at a time so I know what we will need and to be able to eat up what we already have in the pantry and freezer so we don’t overbuy.
Since our oldest son is still quite young I don’t expect him to be able to meal plan of course! But there are ways that he can be a part of it and help us. We’ve found some simple things to do with him to get him started. Plus it helps him to be more interested in the food that’s on the table at suppertime which makes him more likely to eat it! These ideas work perfectly for little ones and I have some more suggestions towards the end of the post on ways to incorporate an older child’s skills into your meal planning.
When we create our meal plan, I plan out our main meals for each night (lunch at our house is always leftovers and breakfast varies from day to day, usually oatmeal, homemade fruit bars, etc). Nothing but the main meal. Then we created these fun flashcards so Farmer Boy can pick which veggies he wants to be our side dish for that meal. I’ll either tell him the meal we plan on having or show him a picture from my Meal Binder and then hand him the flashcards (of the veggies that we have available in our house at the moment, both frozen and fresh) and he gets to pick a veggie to pair with that meal.
Generally we keep our sides pretty plain but we could also spruce it up a bit of course. So if he would pick green beans to go with our roast for a meal, instead of just tossing the beans in with the roast or cooking them on the stove I might also make them baked in the oven with a bit of garlic. Anything that uses those green beans as a side works for us. We’ve just started with vegetables but we plan to add in fruits soon as well.
Here are some free printable produce flashcards to use this method in your own home! If you eat produce that is not listed on these flashcards you can simply search for pictures of the produce and print them out to make your own. I have my flashcards covered in contact paper.
- Printable Produce Flashcards Page 1
- Printable Produce Flashcards Page 2
- Printable Produce Flashcards Page 3
For older children….
Of course there are more ways that you can incorporate an older child into your meal planning! Here are some ideas based on what I did while growing up.
- Instead of just letting the child pick the veggie for the side, you could also involve them in picking a side dish recipe to make that veggie in and have them make it.
- Have them help make a grocery list based off the meal plans and help your shop for it.
- Have them help plan main meals and desserts as well.
- Designate a night of the week as “Their Night” and have them plan and cook the entire meal (with or without help).
What are some ideas you have or that you have done to teach your children meal planning?