Planning family meals

Tips for family shopping and cooking.

Do you plan meals in advance and make cooking a family affair? Michigan State University Extension encourages the following tips for healthy, economical and easy food meal preparation for your family.

Plan ahead

Simple measures, such as writing your grocery list and menu plans may contribute to long term savings on groceries.

  • Separate your grocery list on paper by the following My Plate’s food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein. This method can help you organize your shopping experience and helps you stay within budget. Try to purchase only what’s on the list and nothing more, your goal is no add-ons!
  • Create menu plans for the week, this will save you time when prepping a meal and can reduce those last minute take out runs. Incorporate herbs, onions, tomatoes and low-sodium sauces into your menu planning to add flavor and color.

Don’t shop on an empty stomach. It is said that if you shop on an empty stomach you are more likely to impulse shop for items you don’t need.

Make the meal prep a family affair

In recognition of the March reading month, allow your child to help with the grocery list and menu planning.

  • They can help read off the list at the grocery store. This contributes to their literacy development and may provide an adventurous reading venue.
  • Set healthy ground rules for meal time such as shutting off the television, putting away the smart phone/tablets, and eating together at the table. Simple, yet effective rules!

Preparing meals for your family can be a wholesome and rewarding experience, so why not make the preparation process the same? If you need some budget friendly menu ideas, refer to the My Plate’s Sample 2 week menu. To learn more about budgeting, menu plans and other nutrition education information please visit MSU Extension’s website at

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