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Category Archives: Meal Planning

Tips on how to stretch a meal to feed more, to satisfy hungry appetites, extra guests or want to create left overs.

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  • Juli Szasz

    Usually by adding side dishes in fancy little plates. Its so easy to slice some shallots and put a selection of sauces or sour cream on those cute little Asian style plates and ramekins. Garnish the salad with some parsley, serve mini corn cobs on a platter on the side with a little dish of butter….ReplyCancel

    • Abby

      Some people have such commented some great ideas that I’m going to try! I like to add grated veges to most meals to stretch it out a bit and get my boys to eat more vegetables. If I’m making a stew or slow cooker meal, I love adding dumplings. They are so easy to make, just butter, flour and milk (I add fresh rosemary too) and dropReplyCancel

    • Abby

      Some people have such commented some great ideas that I’m going to try! I like to add grated veges to most meals to stretch it out a bit and get my boys to eat more vegetables. If I’m making a stew or slow cooker meal, I love adding dumplings. They are so easy to make, just butter, flour and milk (I add fresh rosemary too) and drop spoonfuls of mixturinto the poReplyCancel

    • Abby

      Some people have such commented some great ideas that I’m going to try! I like to add grated veges to most meals to stretch it out a bit and get my boys to eat more vegetables. If I’m making a stew or slow cooker meal, I love adding dumplings. They are so easy to make, just butter, flour and milk (I add fresh rosemary too) and drop spoonfuls of mixture into the pot for the lastReplyCancel

  • Mick G

    Little extras such as melted cheese topping, tasty sauces or side salads with additions such as croutons or special vinaigretteReplyCancel

  • Julia K

    If I am making a pasta dish – I stretch it to accommodate extra guests by adding an extra cup of pasta. Such a cost effective and easy way to make it go that bit further !
    I increase the amount of butter chicken by adding some diced pumpkin and diced potatoes and a cup of frozen peas to the mixture.
    Another idea is to serve the meals in the centre of the table – buffet style and let people serve themselves. Everyone will generally take a smallish serve as they can always go back for seconds. My children know that once they have put something on their plate – they are expected to eat it. No more throwing away plates of wasted food. Any leftovers are still on the main serving dishes and can be stored safely.
    We also offer dessert each night in our house. It doesn’t have to be fancy – something like tinned peaches and ice cream will help fill those hungry tummies.ReplyCancel

  • Penny M

    My kids always love a garlic bread side, but salad or extra roast vegies always goes a long way to making a meal a basic affair to a favourite! I love to add extra vegies into mince dishes, such as carrot, zucchini, mushroom chopped up small doesn’t bother the kids, makes it go further and just that bit better for everyone!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer B.

    Those TV chefs do it for a reason… To move up to ‘special’, it’s all in the GARNISHES!
    Pomegranate seeds over a green salad, dukkhah on poached eggs, segments of blood orange over BBQ meats and croutons in soups. The options are endless!ReplyCancel

  • CATHY Bowdler

    I usually end up feeding more than I cater for by adding extra vegies or extra salad. With the vegies it’s quick and easy to turn ordinary vegies into a wonderful vegie bake with some cheesy white sauce and a little extra cooking time. I’ll also make a dessert if we have unexpected mouths to feed. I always have dry ingredients in the pantry for a quick and easy caramel or chocolate self saucing pudding and it only takes a few minutes to prepare and 1/2 hour to bake.ReplyCancel

  • Jo Parks

    I always stretch my meals with Salads, Vegies or Garlic Bread, but my favourite trick is making the amount of rice I serve look double in size by combining Rice with cauliflower. I blitz my cauliflower to the same size as my rice and combine to serve. Sometimes I just use the “Cauliflower Rice” by itself, cook with coconut oil and it makes a delicious Fried Rice.ReplyCancel

  • Di

    Presentation. Arranging things nicely on the plate, just putting in that bit of extra effort to make the meal look as good as it tastes, always turns my family meals from simple to special (well at least that’s what hubby tells me). And it really doesn’t require any extra effort or time at all.ReplyCancel

  • Ern

    A sprig of home grown herb on top or on the side, and like magic simple to special with the snap of a twig.ReplyCancel

  • sonya

    I add herbs like coriander. Our whole family ADORES coriander and it makes our meals so much healthier and tastier.ReplyCancel

  • karina l

    I present my food nicely and add pretty garnishes to makes my simple dishes look a million bucks!ReplyCancel

  • Wendy

    To stretch a meal extra veg, pasta or rice. To make a meal a bit more special I fancy up the presentation or make a small change, a bit of grated cheese to make cheesy mash vs plain mash, etcReplyCancel

  • kds

    Cooking a home cooked meal from scratc takes my family meals from simple to special. When the whole family is at the table , talking and eating :)ReplyCancel

  • Sarah

    I add a generous handful of porridge oats to any dishes with mince to stretch another serving out. Really good with bolognese/ragu type dishes and my kids don’t notice. Healthy too!ReplyCancel

  • Caroline

    One word… Candlelight!!! Makes even my dodgy cooking look good! Adds atmosphere, makes the mundane special and lets me say that the food is not “burnt” it’s “candle-kissed”!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Heather Mcdaniel

    We light candles 1 night a week. We also have themed meals which the kids love planningReplyCancel

  • Melissa

    I always add a little something special, whether it be trying to plate up like a pro chef (or make fun faces for the little one), add a sprinkle of herbs and.oil to garnish or an extra special home made sauceReplyCancel

  • clare dorey

    I always bulk meals up with veggies or bread of some kind, but to keep my kids really happy in summer we eat outside on the deck. Too easy! :)ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Bonner

    My children are 18 years and up, so we get together and have Family Dinner once a month. They take it in turns to decide and cook/order at my place. Without fail garlic bread is always on the menu! Garlic bread and togetherness make meals special at our place.ReplyCancel

  • Gabrielle

    I love to add homegrown fresh herbs.ReplyCancel

  • Jessie Atkins

    Love garlic bread and herb bread too. If we neeed to stretch a meal, we serve them as brushetta, before the meal. Top the bread with a mixture of diced tomato, red onion and basil. Drizzle of olive oil. Hey presto. This way the kids dont just fill up on bread they get some veg in as well. Smaller portion of meal to follow. Try adding avacado and corn as well. Yummo..Pan bread (with cheese) are also great for toasties for lunch. I put them in the sandwich press frozen, add fillings. Very quick and easy.ReplyCancel

  • Nikki Sims-Chilton

    Let Daddy cook – apparently it’s always better when he does it… *sighReplyCancel

  • Lynda Delaney

    Teenagers eat so much, it is unbelievable just how much they eat so I really have to add lots more vegetables to everything and rather than boring potatoes, I cut them into small pieces, cook them in the microwave and then pop into a frypan with a little oil and some herbs and paprika and toss them until coated and a little crunchy. My 12 year old son won’t normally eat potatoes but will if I do them like this.ReplyCancel

  • Carmel Corry

    We love simple food, so we make it special by sitting at the table together, using a clean table cloth, matching cutlery and plates, lots of conversation and laughs! We also use our fanciest glasses. No point them sitting in the cupboard gathering dust. Turns simple healthy food into a gourmet experienceReplyCancel

  • Pauline

    I find by adding lots of variety to our meals that everyone enjoys it so much more. I might add a small bowl of soup with garlic bread to start and then the main can be simpler with meat and a few vegetables. Or I may go vegetarian and do vegetable pancakes with chopped up salad vegetables, corn cobs even a bowl of steamed broccoli. My kids tend to eat everything if there is more variety and serving themselves from the dishes in the centre of the table. It just looks so delicious. Sweet potato chips is another side I use often. Add a nice candle to the table and your all set.ReplyCancel

  • if I’m making any dish with mince I add brown lentil or red kidney beans to the mix to make it go further. I add extra vegies or extra pasta. I dish up on slightly smaller plates to make the meal look bigger.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Van der Heijde

    Instead of doing just mash or plain baked potatoes I either do smashed baked potatoes with garlic and herbs over them or the whole potatoes that you slice almost through to the bottom and top with garlic butter then bake. Just makes it a little extra special and I love the garlic.ReplyCancel

  • Karen

    We always set the table…. sounds simple but it really makes an everyday meal feel more special, It also ensures that the four of us sit together to eat and chat about the day.ReplyCancel

  • annemarie

    I have started using my slow cooker for sides, one night will be bacon and garlic cheesy potato, cous cous salad, pumpkin mini pies. My kids love garlic bread so some nights they will have it as a side dish. My fav is creating lots of mince recipes from a basic recipe. I cook nachos, then tacos, lasagne, then spaghetti adding mushrooms, shepherds pie, then meat balls..a basic mince recipe that can create so many meals and no wasted left overs!ReplyCancel

  • Emily New

    I grate carrot, zucchini and onion into all my mince dishes (even hubby can’t see the extra veggies).
    I always have extra veggies in the freezer, to add to the fresh veggies.ReplyCancel

  • Liz

    When we cook with the kids or make something the kids love, we say it’s made in our own special restaurant Robinson Palms. The name of our street is Robinson.ReplyCancel

  • Joni

    I grow a few herbs and vegetables at home do I add in homemade bread that I make with the breadmaker but snip home grown rosemary, basil, garlic or parsley into the mix, or I make a side salad with home grown rocket, mizuma lettuce and cucumber. It’s quite time consuming with 4 growing kids to feed!ReplyCancel

  • Katie

    I make my meals special by cooking ahead and freezing so all I have to do is reheat and serve…special is the extra time I have with my boys because of my forward planning xReplyCancel

  • Laurina

    I like to change up how I serve meals by using different vegetables or salad instead. But each time making sure there is plenty of flavour because that is what will keep the boys coming back for more! I always sneak plenty of extra veg into meals as well!ReplyCancel

  • Zoe Morris

    Add a sprinkle to make it special. Special is a garnish. A sprinkle of parsley or Parmesan, a sprinkle of nuts to a salad or a halved cherry tomato to garnish. Simple ans special.ReplyCancel

  • kylie c

    We make dinners special by deciding as a family, we sit down and the kids all suggeat meals they would like to have. We compile these and come up with a meal plan, my 11yo girl picks two meals she would like to cook, and my 8yo son picks one meal, and my 6yo son picks one meal he would like to help with, and rhe 2yo picks one to help with. The kids being involved in the decision making is really special because it gives them the choice of what they would like to eat, what days we eat what, and shows them that there’s more then just cooking involved.
    When it comes to the meals, theres always special ways to display, like smiley faces, stacks of rice, we add grated farrot or zucchini to rice to bulk it out, add a vegetable, and give it a colourful appearance. When we have pasta bakes, lasagnes, or the like we do individual ones then a shared salad, or garlic bread.
    We don’t do desert every night but a couple of times a week as a special treat, but each night we do fruit after dinner, there’s been fruit faces, fruit kebabs, chocolate dipped fruit, fruit with yoghurt to dip.
    We keep dinners special by keeping them kid focused so they enjoy them and have positive eating experiences.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca

    To make our dinners stretch I’ll do extra veggies, or a salad, or some bread and butter My mother in law always adds oats and some water to her bolognaise to help it go further. If I have any I’ll use a garlic bread to fill them up too! :) My favorite EASY dessert stretcher is doing jelly in disposable cups. Only fill them half way and then serve with some fruit on top and whipped cream! :) YUMMY kids love them!!ReplyCancel

  • Lucy

    my family love when we get takeaway! Obviously we can’t always have it so I use takeaway containers to serve it up and when we do eat our takeaway we always put the “blue blanket” down on the floor and we have an inside picnicReplyCancel

  • Leanne

    I make meals special by adding lots of hidden vegetables to every meal. It makes me feel special knowing that my kids are getting lots of nutrients without me having to fight them to eat the good stuff.
    Of course if you ask my kids, they would say I make meals special by adding grated Parmesan cheese and garlic bread.ReplyCancel

  • Marg

    I put the individual components of the meal in separate containers for each child so they all have their own portion, no fighting, and make their meal how they want it. It always amazes me how doing this simple task turns meals into fun and the kids are full of ideas.ReplyCancel

  • Sonya N.

    Because I have two very young children, our simple meals are made special (and subsequently more edible!) by making pictures with our food. So spaghetti bolognese and meatballs will be turned into a face with crazy hair, broccoli and cauliflower will be turned into a forest, and sometimes we add purple food dye to mashed potato just to make it look weird! If I didn’t do such things to our meals I doubt my children would ever eat!ReplyCancel

  • Jules

    I find using herbs turns simple meals into special ones! Sweet potato and parsnip roasted in the oven with smoked paprika and olive oil has truly transformed our dinner plates, and the kids will now always eat their vegies! Ditto with using cumin to flavour roast potatoes. Herbs are key!ReplyCancel

  • Tracey Cross

    My kids think any meal where they can dish up for themselves is special, can be anything from take away to meat and vegies, it really doesn’t matter because they feel so grown up being allowed to decide what they want.ReplyCancel

  • cheryl

    To make my homemade meals, which is everyday, a bit more special I go through my collection of food photos either from the internet or magazines and try to present my food so it looks similar to the beautiful photos whenever I can. I just love lots of colour on a plate and then the look of broken bread along side it.ReplyCancel

  • Katrina McAliece

    I love making the La Famiglia Garlic bread into a quick & easy bruschetta as an entree! Delicious and stretches dinner perfectly!ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa Ebert

    Sometimes when we get takeaway roast chicken instead if having hot chips and salad with it, I will cook up vegies and a potato bake and serve with garlic bread…La Famiglia of course its our fave. You don’t have to limit garlic bread to pasta meals….we have it as an accompaniment to a variety of dishes. Simple pleasures and delicious too ?ReplyCancel

  • Ariane

    My family get super excited if i serve garlic bread or a delicious suace with my mealReplyCancel

  • Janine Bone

    If you asked each of my family members what a special meal in our home means, these might be the responses you’d get… The question might spur my hubby to beg me to make his fave Mexican especiale which includes creamy prawn burritos with all the trimmings of guacamole, rice, beans and fresh salsa; my eldest daughter would loyally say that anything that Mummy makes is a special meal; my middle girl would say that she loves the meals that don’t require cutlery; and my little one would say that she loves to have spaghetti bolognaise for brekky, lunch and dinner. But if you ask me, what makes a family meal special in my home is when we are all here together, something that only happens a couple of times a week due to shift working parents. Having all 5 of us sitting at our scratched up old dining table, giggling and chatterboxing over the days events, speculating over tomorrow, and just being there. No matter the meal, boring or extravagant, my little 5-some, that’s what makes it special for me, xReplyCancel

  • Maria

    I was visiting a great aunt who was 93 years old, in Italy, whom I hadn’t seen in years. She had prepared lentil soup and apologised because it was a simple meal. But to me, it was very special as it was prepared with love and attention.ReplyCancel

  • Grace

    To make our simple family meals special, we have a vase of beautiful fresh flowers,(eg roses,azaleas, bird of paradise etc, from our garden) on the dining table . Our simple dishes are followed by our favourite desserts, fruit with ice cream and background soft popular music.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda

    To turn a meal from simple to special is to have dinner with the ones we love a little bit of extra effort in the place setting and table arrangements with everyone chipping in then adding fresh herbs to a meal to add zing and flavour and to make it really special is to cook one of the beautiful recipes that have been passed down through the generations not only do they taste great but we can reminisce about the people who no longer sit with us but remain forever in our thoughts.ReplyCancel

  • Tracey

    I have always added rice or pasta to the meal or served with it. Two minute noodles are handy for that extra stretch too as the younger children think them to be worms in dirt.
    Grated vegetables help too, this can be added to meals and children think they have gotten away with not having to eat so many veggies.
    I add veggies to the mince for spaghetti, my Italian daughter in law is shocked but my children grew up on it and love it.
    When making muffins or biscuits extras are frozen one so they stay fresh and some are left for work/school. There are times when the supply builds up and they are taken out as treats, they thaw quickly being small. So are ready for after dinner.
    One that my older children do it cook some rice or hopefully some leftover rice add a tin of a meal together eg: Heniz cans and this mixture is put on to flat bread rolled and placed in the sandwich maker to brown. This turns a tinned meal for 2 plus a 2 cups of rice and 6 flat breads into a hearty meal for 3 teenage boys with leftovers for younger children if they want it..ReplyCancel

    • Tracey

      What makes these meals special is that everyone helps in making them not just one person is left to make everything. It is the sharing of a simple meal that makes a difference.ReplyCancel

  • Alison

    We have culture night once a week. We cook a meal from a different country, learn a few quick facts about that country and eat it as they would ie with chopsticks etc. We also add candlelight to mix some nights! Lots of fun!!ReplyCancel

  • Pam

    My fourboys are veggie lovers. We have a huge bowl of green and yellow every night, and potatoes ( roasted, mashed or scalloped) fill up growing boys. Garlic bread disappears, and fried rice is another favorite. Leftovers just don’t happen very often

    Even better – they are learning to cook. I expect to retire and let them take over some day!ReplyCancel

  • Pam

    My four boys are veggie lovers. We have a huge bowl of green and yellow every night, and potatoes ( roasted, mashed or scalloped) fill up growing boys. Garlic bread disappears, and fried rice is another favorite. Leftovers just don’t happen very often

    Even better – they are learning to cook. I expect to retire and let them take over some day!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Maloney

    By letting my our pet cockatiel Mr Doodson, sit on my shoulder at dessert, who then whistles his heart out serenades us with tunes!ReplyCancel

  • Allison

    My top tip is to have hubby/daddy cook the meal – Seriously he is a way better cook and makes incredible seasoning combinations and from scratch sauces/dressing.
    We eat very simple meals – meat (lamb backstrap, chicken or steak are favourites) and we eat them grilled with salad/veg and rice/cous cous but the flavour & spice combinations my hubby comes up with makes the whole meal ‘new’.ReplyCancel

  • Bonnie

    We always sit at the table together, we take it in turns (youngest to eldest) to talk about our day and finish with the ‘best thing that happened to me today was’ ?ReplyCancel

  • Rachel

    Sit at the table! Really hard to do with an adventerous 3 year old. But he helps me set the table, we use cloth napkins and I light a candle. Then we sing a quick blessing, he refuses to eat whatever I’ve cooked and runs off. So hubby and I bolt down our food and dream of the days when we can have nice civilised dinners. One day!ReplyCancel

  • Allison

    When I am trying to make a meal of salad and meat “shine” I usually add fruit to the meal for added flavour. Usually this consists of orange, pineapple and apple. I think it really freshens up the meal and makes it a little different to an ordinary salad.ReplyCancel

    • Kate - Kat's Assistant

      Ooh that sounds yummy. I have never thought to add fruit to a salad. Will have to give it a try in tonight salad.:)ReplyCancel

  • I take my family meals from simple to special by:

    * Using an extra nice table cloth and/or extra nice placemats
    * Having 2-3 lit candles for ambiance
    * Setting the table properly, with everything in its proper spot
    * Ensuring an array of colours are served up (pleasing to the eye)
    * Playing soft music in the background
    * Continuing great conversation while awaiting home-made dessert.

    Works a treat every time!!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca

    for me, its all about the presentation….. funky shape plates, origami folded napkins, bread boards, fresh herbs topping the meal. I’ve even been known to present meatloaf looking like cupcakes (mince ‘cupcake’, mashed potato ‘icing’, sprinkled with parsley) kids loved itReplyCancel

  • Chris

    If my kids and grand kids call in unanounced on a Sunday which they often do I can stretch a bake dinner by cutting vegetables smaller and adding extra vegetables like corn on the cob and carrots and of course you can always have a side of garlic bread and desert. I always keep garlic bread in freezer it goes with any meal.ReplyCancel

  • Charmaine Hardy

    I make the family meals go from simple to special by adding a piece of FRUIT to the plate. An apple, orange, mandarin or grapes not only add colour to the plate but also help satisfy grumbling tummies. The kids often try to guess which fruit will be the special guest tonight.ReplyCancel

  • Raquel Stankovic

    We have now come up with a “Jaime Oliver” style of dishing up the sides – either a salad, garlic pizza or garlic bread dished up looking rustic on a chopping board – kids love everything and anything that is on here. It’s like a kid in a candy store :-)ReplyCancel

  • Kim

    To make meals more special I get the kids involved in the choice and preparation – it makes them appreciate how much time and effort go into meal planning, prep and cooking. They have more pride in the choices they make and the food we eat.ReplyCancel

  • Karlene Forrest

    Our 7 year olds makes every meal “special” by smothering it in tomato sauce. He won’t eat tomatoes. Or pasta sauce. Just tomato sauce.
    I make the rest of our family’s meal special with the addition of dessert.ReplyCancel

  • Helen Flockhart

    Although I’m a proud Aussie citizen, I’m a Scot so oatmeal is the great addition. I’m the great gran of a large family and our tradition is to make “the stranger’s portion” in case somebody extra drops by at dinner time. All soups, stews and savoury mince dishes start with skirlie. This is simply chopped onion and oatmeal browned in a little oil in a frypan. It has a nice nutty flavour. Remove from your pan to the pot you will cook your soup etc in before browning and sealing your meat to stop it becoming dry during cooking. I always make extra skirlie as we eat it on toast too! Barley in your soap increases your meal cheaply. Curried barley instead of rice occasionally. I married a Sicilian so it’s bread with everything there! An Italian loaf can feed a large number if you top a little olive spread, butter or brushed oil with a little cheese mixed with chopped parsley and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and either pop under the grill or in the oven.. It dresses the bread without being grilled cheese on toast. You’re not spending much money but delighting the eye! You can use baguette bread too. Increase the surface size by slicing the loaf on a diagonal slant. I have a large freezer container where leftover vegetables go, including any roasted ones. Any small amounts of roast meats too. I put a helping of skirlie and any barley left over. If the grandkids and their little ones visit, I can put these into a pot and have a tasty homemade soup on in a flash. Everything is already cooked. It just needs bringing to the boil. Need it quicker, defrost in the microwave. Cheese or garlic bread and this great gran can feed the brood well on my OAP!ReplyCancel

  • Melanie

    I am all about the garlic bread, and master 2 demands it nightly!
    I find the biggest hit with my family is when I create a meal that requires their input!
    So, for example: tacos. Having all the ingredients out on the lazy susan (I know!!!) so they can create their own meal masterpieces! it really takes a simple meal into a whole “event” and gets us all talking about new combinations, ingredients and it a great way for them to try new things (and for me to use up leftovers often too!) works for burgers, wraps, tacos, burritos, pizzas, even simple sides to another meal. its amazing how much good stuff they eat when it is their choice!ReplyCancel

  • Helen

    Fondue Friday! No one can be uncheered by simple bread, strawberries or marshmallows oozing with warm chocolate. Yum.ReplyCancel

  • Candice

    We have our kids help to make our meals special. Our 2 year old helps with mixing and grating veggies, while our 4 year old measures and chops with us. It takes longer to prepare, it”s a lot more mess and our pizza bases can occasionally be oval, but our meals are special.ReplyCancel

  • Lola

    We don’t eat “leftovers” we have a “dinner sampler”. A dinner sampler is a full meal made up of small portions of a variety of leftovers! Kids won’t touch leftovers but get excited over the dinner sampler.ReplyCancel

  • Anne-Marie Marini

    We always make everything from scratch with fresh ingredients. Including gravy & white sauce & present it nicely for the kids & make our own desserts.ReplyCancel

  • Mrs Caroline Matthews

    I like to turn my family meals from simple to special by making kumera,potato, garlic, cheeses and herb vegetable patties,dan dan noodles to traditional savoury mince, chicken meatloaf with 2 minute noodles, vegetables through lasagne and left over rice for fried rice.ReplyCancel

  • Pat

    My husband will not eat frozen leftovers, but since I re-named them to frozen dinners, he will eat them. I re-heat them in the microwave and serve up on a nice plate.
    When the kids were at that massive growth and hunger teen stage I was going through 750 gm of pasta per pasta meal. The children would never eat pumpkin or any mashed veg other than potato, so we combined them resulting in some fabulous colours. These days we have green mashed potato, then it was orange or yellow mashed potato. (Green being chopped parsley, orange was pumpkin and yellow was a smaller quantity of pumpkin)
    Was so used to making double batches of pikelets that I was quite surprised when I started having leftovers. ie the kids had grown up and weren’t ravishing hungry all the time.ReplyCancel

  • Anita

    As my husband is a shift worker we try to make dinner a fun and special time when we can be all together. My sons favourite daddy dinner time is our lounge room picnics. It can be with any usual dinnertime menu, or a “pick and mix” dinner. It is all done on the floor of the lounge room where we sit in a circle with the picnic rug and cushions. We even use our picnic set, plastic cutlery and all.ReplyCancel

  • Eva Kiraly

    A meal just isn’t a meal without the accompaniments, a plate of Garlic Bread and bowl of salad in the centre of the table makes all the difference!ReplyCancel

  • Renee

    A little love and thoughtfulness goes a long wayReplyCancel

  • cal potter

    With apple juice in wine glasses, we all dress up in our best princess costumes and dine to the sound of “the wheels on the bus”ReplyCancel

  • amy w

    I have ALWAYS added garlic bread. I have been known to cook pasta and roast dinners a lot so I can add garlic bread because I love it so much. But my favourite way to stretch a meal is with the la famiglia garlic bread slices. The nicely browned ones go to me, the medium ones go to hubby and the kids like them when the butter is just melted… Mmm yum!!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle

    Making stuff from scratch feels more special and homely. My kids love my flour tortillas and pizza bases that I make.ReplyCancel

  • Anita Mitchell

    Individualised side salads and yummy sauces always help; paprika sprinkled on the potatoes; butter and lemon on the beans. But the favourite way to signal a really special meal is to serve a homemade dessert! It can be as simple as a bikkie or a butter cake with vanilla icing; but home made is best.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly Parker

    I try to make meals family friendly, something we all enjoy and by eating together as a familyReplyCancel

  • Alicia

    Add a side salad, rice, cous cous and/or garlic or cheesy mustard bread to make meals go that bit further. But I also add lots of hidden veg, fresh herbs into my dishes to ensure my family are getting all the nutrition they need, without even knowing it!!!ReplyCancel

  • Tanya

    I make more salads, for example, I had 3 extra adults over for dinner with the same amount of rissoles I generally feed just my family so I made a tomato salad, a quick noodle salad and then I sliced some pumpkin thin and brushed with maple syrup and roasted. It fed everyone easilyReplyCancel

  • Jacelle

    We make our meal time special every night with us all eating our meal together at the dining table. Dinner plates, cutlery, nice glasses and fabric napkins all seem so special in our fast paced lives. Sometimes the candles come out too!ReplyCancel

  • Kat

    A little green salad and fresh grated cheese makes any meal look good. A big plate of garlic bread in the middle of table for the family to gather around is great.ReplyCancel

  • We try to eat together as a family every night we can… And its always a win win when the garlic bread is served! I also like to use different sauces where possible and let the kids experience more flavour.ReplyCancel

  • add a bit of love to each meal and of course adding melted cheese goes a long way to achieving thisReplyCancel

  • Donna Germon

    I have 5 children who all like different things. To stretch our meals I get them involved. They help make salads they will eat, they help add extra vegies to dishes or they help make an extra part of the meal, like a fresh focaccia or flat bread. My son has recently started making fresh pasta and thoroughly enjoys it! We always serve our meals on platters on the table for everyone to help themselves.ReplyCancel

  • Kathie A

    I like to make our family meals extra special by:
    Setting the table
    Using the ‘specially polished’ cutlery
    Serving one of the family’s favourite meals…with garlic bread, of course
    Using wine glasses (even if they’re just filled with soft drink for the littlies)
    By having a calm, relaxed & thankful attitude! After all, we are all together, enjoying fab food & each other’s company :-)ReplyCancel

  • Gail

    I make a meal special by having some interesting prepared mason jar salads in several sizes ready to go ,just shake and pour gently onto the main plate , simply superb with lasagne , pasta bolognaise, casserole , fish , steak or chicken It has been a blessing having these jars all prepared ahead on a Sunday, ready for lunches and dinners for days ahead , they literally save me hours of prep time and make every meal so very special .
    & Thank you Kat for the idea!!ReplyCancel

  • Katie

    Often, it’s not the cooking skills or ingredients that makes meals special in our house but the process my husband and I do together every night. Menu planning, grocery shopping and all cooking are performed together. The laughs and teamwork make every meal special even on the occasion when we fail miserably. In fact it was these processes that helped us move from housemates to marriage.ReplyCancel

  • Laura Scriven

    We sit around the table every day,
    We learn and share that way!
    I like to try a new weekly dinner,
    Sometimes I make a winner!ReplyCancel

  • Jacky

    I add fresh herbs and spices: the colours and aromas make everything look and smell so delicious the whole family tucks in.ReplyCancel

The perfect meal if you’re looking to up your weekly fish intake.

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  • Michelle

    Hi ya Kat, there’s a similar recipe in the original thermie cookbook that does cook spaghetti really well. Think its called creamy tomatoe and salami fettachini. I follow it but use chirozo instead of salami and prefer to cook chirozo in frypan (no oil necessary) separately though.ReplyCancel

  • Julie

    I have made that basil and chorizo pasta dish before in the thermomix and I agree. Tastes amazing, but the pasta shreds. I would love to know where you get your thermomix recipes from and how often you use your thermomix. I am after some more ways to use mine, as I have only had it about 3 weeks. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Angela

    I have just completed my first ever weekly meal plan and followed it up with a shopping list!
    Weekly meal plan #1


    Pizza: ham/pineapple, pepperoni


    Lamb chops + sala


    Spaghetti bolognese


    Potato crusted fish + salad




    Curried sausages


    Beef stroganoff + veg


    Chocolate chip muffins
    Rice bubble bars

    I have been trying to cut down on buying overly packaged and processed foods as a way of saving money and the environment but I have a sweet tooth that I’ve passed to my kids, lucky I love baking!

    Your blog has inspired me to become more organised in many areas of my life.
    Off to do some shopping where I won’t stop and wonder what it was I went for in the first place.ReplyCancel

    • Kate - Kat's Assistant

      WOW that is a really great meal plan!! Well done Angela.:) I must say they all sound amazing.:)ReplyCancel

Jamie Olivers delicious Beef and Noodles stirfry is packed with amazing Asian flavour which the family will enjoy

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  • Julia K

    Last Week:
    Sunday: Dinner out at Grill’d as we went to the movies
    Monday: Mustard & Rosemary Pork with Roast Pears and Pan Fried Baby Potatoes
    Tuesday: Spaghetti Bolognese (made a double batch for the freezer)
    Wednesday: Garlic, Oregano & Lemon Chicken with rice
    Thursday: Take Away Pizza
    Friday: Thai Massaman Beef Curry w/ rice
    Saturday: Pepper & Peanut Chicken w/ rice
    Baking: Cupcakes

    This Week (Week 1 School Holidays)
    Sunday: Wiener Schnitzel, pan-fried baby potatoes & salad
    Monday: Chicken Quesadillas
    Tuesday: Shepherd’s Pie & Veggies
    Wednesday: Tacos
    Thursday: Bangers ‘N Mash
    Friday: Pizza Sammies
    Saturday: Mongolian Lamb & Snow Pea Stir Fry w/ jasmine rice
    Baking: Rice Bubble M&M Biscuits (from TOH last week)
    Chocolate on Chocolate on Chocolate Cupcakes (school holiday indulgence)ReplyCancel

  • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

    this sounds delicious Julia, especially the pepper and peanut chicken!!!!ReplyCancel

Fabulous Italian Meatballs are a delicious and easy Meal Plan idea which all the family will love

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  • Ooh those meatballs look really good! We’re having a week of freezer and pantry meals this week so there are a couple of pasta bakes on the menu!ReplyCancel

    • Kate - Kat's Assistant

      Lauren they were so good! We all really enjoyed them. Nice and easy too.:)ReplyCancel

Weekly meal plan plus family friendly recipe ideas to help you work out what to cook for dinner.

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  • These all look amazing – but i think I’m going to have to start with the Thermomix roast chicken. That looks incredible!ReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      So delicious!!ReplyCancel

  • Louise Thomsen

    These all look fantastic! I’ll have to share some pics with your hashtag! Louise xxReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      Can’t wait to see what you are eating for dinner lovely Louise!!ReplyCancel

  • Rochelle

    Thank you so much for making cooking more enjoyable and my entire week so much more organised (and easier)!!ReplyCancel

    • Kate - Kat's Assistant

      Ooh i am so happy to hear that, Rochelle.:) xReplyCancel

Weekly meal plan plus family friendly recipe ideas to help you work out what to cook for dinner.

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  • Gretel

    I enjoy reading your meal plans, because I sadly don’t have enough time and like that I can use your ideas, my kids will enjoy that beef and bacon pasta.ReplyCancel

    • Kate - Kat's Assistant

      Fantastic Gretel.:) My kids love the beef and bacon pasta too!ReplyCancel

  • Kylie

    The Beef & bacon Pasta Bake looks so yummy I’ve added it to my Meal Plan!
    Monday: Beef & Noodle Stir-fry
    Tuesday:Chicken & Cashew Korma & Rice
    Wednesday:Bangers & Mash
    Thursday:Tuna Patties & Salad
    Friday: Beef & Bacon Pasta bake
    Saturday:Chicken, Carrot & Chickpea Tagine with Cous Cous
    Sunday: Spanakopita & SaladReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      This sounds so delicious Kylie, do you mind if I share it as a weekly meal plan with the rest of the community over the next few weeks? :)ReplyCancel

Weekly meal plan plus family friendly recipe ideas to help you work out what to cook for dinner.

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  • Julia K

    sun 26 july hamburgers

    mon 27 july mango chicken curry w/rice & green beans

    tues 28 july shepherd’s pie w/ veggies

    wed 29 july creamy lamb & tomato fettucine w/ salad

    thurs 30 july curried sausages, mash & veggies

    fri 31 july sweet ‘n sour pork w/rice

    sat 1 august bacon & cheese croquettes w/salad

    baking gingerbread men
    double choc muffinsReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      Julia your meal plan sounds amazing! I love the sound of Mango chicken with rice and green beans! Very yummy!ReplyCancel

  • Natalie

    those honey and carrot muffins sound good, I have a few carrots in the fridge that need using. Our meal plan for this week is:

    Mon-spaghetti bolognese
    Tue-chicken risotto
    Wed-frozen fish portions with chips and salad
    Thur-silverside in the slow cooker with steamed vegetables
    Fri-homemade beef and blackbean with rice
    Sat-out for dinner
    Sun-Roast lamb and vegetablesReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      Ooh another beautiful meal plan! Loveing the sound of Beef and blackbean with rice. And i just love silverside in the slow cooker, a perfect winter meal.:)ReplyCancel

  • Laura

    I haven’t had time to plan this weeks meals as the kids have been sick all weekend. I will be adding the chicken noodle soup to the grocery list, they will enjoy this for tonights dinner, will soothe their poor little throats.ReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      Chicken noodle soup is delicious, quick and easy. I hope your kiddies are feeling better soon.:)ReplyCancel

  • Hi Katrina! Thanks so so so much for including us in your weekly meal plan! We hope you LOVE LOVE the cauli rice! We certainly do :) e + c <3ReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      It is beautiful! And i real winner in our house.:) Thank youReplyCancel

  • Kylie

    Our Meal Plan this week:
    Mon – Pork Medallions with Cabbage & Mash
    Tue – Chicken Caesar Salad
    Wed – Vietnamese Pork Chops & Salad
    Thurs – Takeaway
    Fri – Spag Bol
    Sat – Chicken Noodle Soup
    Sun – Beef & Red Wine Stew in Slow Cooker

    Baking – Banana Muffins

    Your Chicken Noodle soup looks great, so I changed my Plan to cook it next weekend! I’m away in Melbourne for a few days this week, so hubby will do takeaway and Spag Bol for the kids while I’m gone.ReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      Ooh i am loving the sound of your Pork medallions with cabbage and mash! Sounds very enticing!ReplyCancel

  • Haha we eat toasted sandwiches for dinner sometimes! Omelettes and easy things are common too! The lasagna looks fantastic!ReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      It’s great to have something easy and simple on a Friday or Saturday night, i think it is a great way to finish a busy week off.:)ReplyCancel

  • Kirra

    I am just thinking about our meal plan thismorning as i shop on thursdays :) hubby is on night shift here so our dinner is at 2pm lol i also cook up a couple of light easy meals thati can freeze & reheat for my 2yo and i around 5pm.

    Thurs- Corn meat, veg & sweet potato w/ leek white sauce
    Fri- chicken thai red curry and rice
    Sat- left overs ( i will be away)
    Sun- roast pork, veg and gravy
    Mon- salmon pasta bake & salad
    Tue-curried sausages and rice
    Wed- spag bog in whole roast sweet potatos, avo/corn salsa and greek yoghurt.
    Light meals-•skinnymixers cheesy bacon mac & cheese
    •Pumpkin, veg and ham soup
    •Sliced cold pork and corn meat on bread
    Snacks- choc cupcakes and fruity banana cookiesReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      Soiunds like a delicious week of meals at your place, Kirra!.:)ReplyCancel

  • Marion Vannucci

    Hi Katrina,

    Last night I made the Cauli-rice recipe, however I replaced the pumpkin with sweet potato. It was soooo delicious. We had it as a main course dish without any extra meat, and it was quite filling.

    Looking forward to trying some more of your menu ideas.


    • Kate - Kat's Assistant

      Ooh i like the sound of sweet potato. Sounds delicious, i will have to give it a try. Thanks Marion for the idea.:)ReplyCancel

Weekly Family Meal Plan with family friendly recipe ideas to help you work out what to cook for dinner tonight

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  • Louise

    Yum, this meal plan sounds delicious. I haven’t made chow mein in quite awhile, I forget about the good dinner ideas like this, it’s a great way to sneak in some vegetables to the kids too! Love your plans, thanks Kat.ReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      It’s great being able to sneak extra veggies in especially those veggies that they aren’t too fussd on.ReplyCancel

  • Jen

    I made your zucchini brownies on the weekend, the whole family loved them, so moist, definately a keeper recipe.ReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      They are so good aren’t they Jen! We just love them.:)ReplyCancel

  • Julie

    I make my tuna mornay with crushed plain salted chips. Mmmm, the kids and hubby love it ( and me too!). I am going to try that chocolate brownie with zucchini, looks delicious!ReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      Too funny, that’s exactly how i make my Tuna Mornay, so so yummy.:)ReplyCancel

Create a list of all the dinners your family enjoys with these easy and delicous family friendly dinner ideas.

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  • Julia K

    Each week when I come up with our menu plan – I print it off and put it up on the fridge. This helps avoid the “what’s for dinner Mum ?” nagging which seems to start the minute they come in from school.
    For the past couple of months – I’ve been keeping my old menu plans in a binder so I have a record of what we’ve been eating and I can keep things varied.
    I love checking out websites and blogs such as The Organised Housewife for new – family friendly recipe ideas. I also get a free weekly email from and invariably choose at least one or two recipes from there to try out the following week. Major supermarkets such as Coles, Woolies & IGA usually put out a free magazine every now and then which has great seasonal recipes to try.
    I also love to double up on my cooking and freeze some for another night – saves on time and washing up.
    Another thing I’m getting back into this term is to do the dinner prep in the morning – this takes the stress out of afternoons which are often busy with homework / after school sports and activities. All the prep dishes can be taken care of early too so there is generally only the serving ware and the odd pan or two left for the evening.ReplyCancel

  • I tried the bruschetta chicken the other night! I went down a treat!

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      We love it, we are big bruschetta fans here!ReplyCancel

Family Friendly Weekly Meal Plan plus recipes to help you work out what to cook for dinner tonight.

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  • We have an interesting meal plan this week, as it’s school holidays, I decided that the kids can do the cooking this week, so it’s stir fries, soups and pasta all week. xxReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      LOVE IT Nicole, I think I should do the same one week!ReplyCancel

  • Thanks so much for including my recipe lovely. Have a great week and enjoy! xxReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      so delicious Alexx!ReplyCancel

  • Tara Bock

    Hi Kat, what kind of lamb do you use in the baked lamb dinner? :)ReplyCancel

  • Georga

    I used a Jamie Oliver Lamb Roast from Woolies and it was just amazingly delicious. Definitely on the list to do again, will try with the chicken drummies next time. A definite winner! I used zucchini and potato too and didn’t have to do any extra veggiesReplyCancel

This is a guest post by Louise D’Allura of Meal Planning Your Way Are you struggling to meal plan and get healthy food on the table? Too often we find barriers that stop us from putting our meal plans into action, and reaching for takeaway. Like most of us it will be because you’re too tired […]

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I’m following a restrictive diet over the next few weeks, so my family meal plans are going to be very bland, just meat and veg. I’m going to share some readers family meal plans.  Which is a fantastic way to show what others are eating in their homes.  I’d love to hear what you are […]

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