Making the time and effort to establish regular healthy eating patterns for your family will go a long way in creating quality bonding time and a lifetime of nourishing habits for your children.

Food is fundamental in forging a healthy family.

There’s something to be said about making the effort to gather the family around a hot meal as regularly as possible.

I also find there’s a lot of clout in having a workable weekly dinner plan, with room to throw in some random cook-up, depending on the day.

If the day demands it (and even if it doesn’t), fire up the BBQ, or smoker, to fill in a dinner gap and level up a boring-as meal idea with some low and slow magnificence.

Although diet and possible allergies inform its ingredients, a menu plan isn’t a meal plan.

It’s a battle strategy.


On our fridge sits a draft plan of attack against what I regard as one of the family unit’s greatest enemies: slap and slop.

Slap and slop is the stuff of Dickensian nightmares, the drab gruel in Oliver Twist, or the surplus smorgasbord of slop found lining trestle tables in a M*A*S*H mess tent.

Having a menu plan is an inoculation against soul-sucking recipes from gastronomic hell.

Stressing the inherent health, time and money-saving benefits of menu plans, The Mayo Clinic said they love the idea.

“Menu planning is a great way to make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and meeting your nutritional needs. And, as every frugal cook knows, menu planning can save you time and money.”

They add,

‘Menu planning doesn’t have to be complicated. To get started, jot down some of your favourite meals… Be sure to include side dishes as well as entrees and some healthy desserts.’

Variety is the Spice of Life

Their strategy consists of:

  1. Checking the calendar: Fill in busy nights with leftovers (BBQ smoked leftovers for the win — turn leftover smoked lamb into quesadillas; smoked chicken drumsticks into a beans and rice buffet)
  2. Pantry cook-up: Keep it simple. Get creative. Use what’s available.
  3. Thinking Seasonal: salads or soups?
  4. Mixing things up: avoid repetition. Dust off the cookbooks, boot up the BBQ, warm to websites filled with recipes ready to try.
  5. Visualising the meal: aim for balance. Half vegetables/fruits, quarter meat, the rest grains.

This is straight-up advice on how to give the boot to poor food planning, slap and slop, microwave “nuked” quick fixes, and fast-food progeny.

Affordable Quality

Food and flavour bring the family together.

It’s one of those great company persuaders and communication drivers.

Giving forethought to food saves money, fosters fellowship, and inspires creativity.

Planning dinners with the family a week in advance takes advantage of an opportunity to work together to discuss ideas, costs, and budgets.

Operating within a margin by doing a lot with a little, can transform a budget, the household dynamic, and even relationships for the better.

So stated rough and tough Brit gourmet guru Jamie Oliver:

‘Food is one of the few things in life that has the power to unite people.’

Oliver noted in a 2019 flashback review of his cooking career on film that he didn’t intend to have his family involved. They were curious, he said, and it just happened.

He incorporated the opportunity into his work, and built his family’s involvement into a successful family-centred career.

Food has its own language, and fun is often the missing ingredient.

By utilising this language, menu plans are a fundamental instrument for forging family life together in a simple, cost-effective way.


Photo by Julia M. Cameron.

About the Author: Rod Lampard

Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.

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