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The San Miguel Basin Extension office provides assistance and programs for citizens in five main areas: 4-H/Youth Development, Ag/Local Food, Gardening, Natural Resources and Home, Family & Health.

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Meal Planning Can be Fun for Everyone


Family eating together

Winter nights are the perfect time to work together as a family to plan and prepare nutritious and easy meals.  Meal planning doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Having everyone help can turn meal planning into a positive and enjoyable family activity.

Meal Planning Basics

Consider these six tips when planning meals.

  • Weekly schedule. Have a family meeting to plan out the weeks schedule of events and activities.
  • Use a meal planning tool. You can use a simple notebook or a full-on planning tool that has prompts for each day of the week. You can choose to plan just evening meals, or all meals and snacks. Take time at family meetings to let each person help in the process of planning meals.
  • Nutrition – When planning meals, include a variety of foods from each food group:
  • Incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Choose whole grains such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread, or oatmeal
  • Select lean proteins such as legumes, beans, tofu, nuts and seeds, fish, skinless chicken, or lean cuts of meat
  • Include a non-fat, low-fat, or nondairy option
  • Create an inventory of food items and ingredients that you have in your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator.
  • Select Recipes. By selecting recipes including the foods you already have, you can save money.
  • Shopping List. Create a shopping list of items that will be needed to prepare the meals/recipes you choose. Planning helps save time, money, and food from going to waste.

Finding Recipes


Finding and creating family recipes can be a lot of fun.  Connecting with can help you plan healthy meals on a budget.

As a young person, I enjoyed when my family would get together to plan meals.  I carried this tradition forward to my children, so that they helped plan our dinner meals.  This activity helped my children learn to create healthy meals and many happy memories.   When children have a say in meal planning, you honor their preferences and opinions. This positive focused time can create future opportunities to have some difficult conversations while planning or cooking.


About Carla Farrand

Carla Farrand is a Family & Consumer Science Agent for CSU Extension in Garfield County. Carla has a passion for food preservation and food safety. Carla has been a CSU Extension Master Food Safety Advisor since 1996. Carla teaches a monthly food safety or food preservation class through Garfield County Extension and has also extended classes to after-school programs and 4-H.