I am all about "Mom technology." Really, I am. I use an e-calendar that I access on my laptop and iPad, read books on my Kindle, and communicate with my kids' teachers and coaches via email. But when it comes to meal planning, I prefer a no-tech solution, mainly because I have never found a web app that works for my family.

Sure, I can find plenty of programs that generate recipes and grocery lists for me so that I can serve healthy and balanced dinners to my crew… but getting them to eat those dinners is another matter. And even if I choose one of those sites where you list the ingredients that you have on hand — such as pasta, butter, and salt — it will still spit back a recipe that one or more of my kids will refuse to eat.

Here's how I did it.

Start by Listing All of the Dinners That Your Family Will Actually Eat

Think of everything that you have made for dinner in the past few weeks, and write it down. Dig through your recipe books and pick out a few "stretch" meals — ones that most of your kids will eat, or ones where you can easily make a slightly modified version to appeal to everyone (such as pasta with homemade meatballs and sauce for the main meal, but where you leave some of the pasta plain for the pickier eaters). And don't forget to add traditional Sunday night dinners to your meal list — roasted chicken, turkey, lasagna, meals that might take too long to prepare to serve during the week, but are great for the weekends.

After brainstorming and digging through my cookbooks, I was able to list more than 35 entrees that my family will actually eat!

Create the Board

I purchased a framed magnetic chalkboard that would look nice in my kitchen and found a place to hang it. Next I created laminated magnets- making headers for each day of the week, and one for each of my listed menu items. (Note: I used a small Xyron machine purchased at a craft store to do this, but you might be able to have these made at your local FedEx/Kinko's). Set up your board with the days of the week at the top, and all of your meal possibilities listed below. I group mine by chicken, beef, pasta/pizza, and Sunday dinners.

Plan Your Menu Once a Week!

On Sundays I select the dinners that I plan to make for the week, and move the magnets around to the item is listed next to the correct day of the week. I then refer to my board as I create my grocery-shopping list for the week. Each morning, I take a quick glance at it, see what I had planned for the day, and can remove meat from the freezer or do any meal prep while the kids are still in school, which makes the 5 p.m. pre-dinner hour so much easier to manage!

And as an added bonus… no one asks me "Mom, what's for dinner?" anymore! They know that they can check the menu board for themselves!

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