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How often do you repeat meals?

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My kids (well 2 of them) complained today that we “always” eat the same things. When I was growing up, we ate homemade pizza on Fridays, roast on Sundays, and tacos on Tuesdays. I’m not sure if that was every week, or if we did that every year, but I know it happened regularly. I never would have dreamed of complaining to my mom about food she cooked.

Today we had tacos and one of my kids said he is sick of them (we eat them about once every 2 weeks). Then, I was making granola bars and a different kid asked why we always have those (again, I make them about every 2 weeks). The granola bars thing bothered me because it used to be something everyone would eat and love, but I guess at least one of them is getting tired of them.

Anyway, how many different breakfast and dinner meals do you rotate through? Do you eat some things weekly or close to it? I feel like I spend so much time feeding my family-thinking about meals, shopping, cooking, cleaning the kitchen, etc. I don’t really want to spend more time doing it! 

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I would not take kindly to this type of feedback. 
 

When I was growing up we ate the same meal every night. Your kids have plenty of variety. 

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We have a lot of the same types of food, not so regular as tacos on Tuesdays.  But maybe I’ll go to that it sounds like it could help.  

I grew up with lots of casserole type meals where it would be same thing for 3 or 4 days in a row.  

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My husband complains about eating the same meal too many times, (which really bugs me, because he'll eat the same take-out lunch multiple times a week by choice, but burgers at home once a week and he's "burned out" 😠 ).  

I don't like cooking and do not have the skills to create new recipes every week.  Someone pointed me towards 5dinners1hour.com, and it has helped save me so much time with meal planning and prep work.  I get 20 new recipes every month, and can create a shopping list based on what I want to make that week.  It also allows me to adjust the number of servings.  Husband has liked everything I've made so far and has asked me to repeat some recipes. Even the picky 11 year old likes a lot of the recipes.  I usually do not make all 20 recipes each month, but will repeat some favorites from previous months.   

 

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We probably have 20 or so meals that show up every single month, often 2-4 times.  Like burgers.  We have burgers literally once a week.  We have a soup of some kind once a week.  We have other meals that repeat at least every 2 weeks- black bean bowls, chicken thighs (I change up the seasoning a bit), Mexican food of some kind.  I get tired of repeating food after maybe 1-2 years.  So we are currently "done" with tacos made from a seasoning packet and ground beef, but are regularly having bean burritos or chicken fajitas.  I'll get sick of those eventually and rotate back to tacos.  

How old are your kids?  My soon-to-be 13 year old is very excited that, after his birthday in a month, he will be responsible for planning, fixing, and cleaning up after one dinner per week.  I'm doing this for two reasons- I want him to have life skills, but I also want him (and his siblings as well) to understand that there is real work involved in meal planning/cooking.  My kids are not terribly whiny about food, but they aren't particularly grateful either.  

Our breakfasts are always the same basic options- PBJ sandwich, an egg with toast (my oldest two take egg orders for their siblings and make eggs 2-3x a week), nuts and fruit, a yogurt, or nothing.  Oldest rarely eats in the morning.  

Lunches are always the same- sandwiches or leftovers, veggies sticks with a dip of some kind (herbed cheese, hummus, caramelized onion dip).  Once a week or so, I make tuna salad or fish sticks or nuggets because we've run out of bread or turkey or something.  

I have maybe another 10 recipes we see once a month, and another 10 that we see 1-2x a year.  

 

 

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Some things are weekly like a roasted chicken with veggie sides. But the way I season the chicken rotates. We also always have soup at least one day a week but the type varies. We have some lentil dish weekly but flavor rotates. A Mexican dish every week but what kind, tacos, enchiladas, etc rotates.

Breakfast is almost always either eggs, baked oatmeal, or waffles. 

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I think it's ok for kids to say, respectfully, "Could we maybe find a few new foods to try?"  I also think it's ok for mom to say:  maybe, find me some recipes with less than 7 ingredients, that take less than an hour to cook.  Here's some cookbooks.  

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I have quite a few standard things that I cook, but I try a new recipe at least once a week because I like scrolling Instagram food accounts. 

We eat tacos A LOT, but one of the reasons is that I can change up tacos to add variety without a whole lot of thought. Ground beef, chicken, shredded pork, fish, hard shell, soft shell, corn vs flour. 

In any case, my kids don't get to complain about someone fixing them a hot meal every night, so variety doesn't matter. 😄

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Not that often, as far as a straight repeat.  We might have roast vegetables twice a week, but different vegetables differently seasoned, and once with soba noodles and once with beans.  Lentils might be twice a week too, but once in a soup and once in an umami-heavy dish with mushrooms and soy sauce.  Absolute duplicates, maybe a roast chicken once a month?

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breakfast is exactly the same every single day.

 

we have spaghetti once a week

 pasta bake once a week

 steak and veggies once a week

and the other days vary. always with lots of veggies, it might be sausages and veggies, veggie fritters, baritios, roast and veggies,curry  or stir fry

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We have seasonal repeats.  This time of year we eat a lot more beef dishes and soups, so I'd say..........about every 3 weeks something repeats.  Our proteins rotate weekly, though.

HOWEVER,
Tuesday is every week, so tacos are happening every week. 😄  They are not just tacos.  We go through: gringo (ground beef and supermarket shells), ancho chicken, Korean inspired pork, shredded beef, chili-lime chicken.
And since Tuesday is every week, nachos follow nearly every Wednesday.  I take the leftovers from Tuesday, make a cheese sauce, open a can of refried beans, and make everyone their own plate of supreme nachos on individual squares of tin foil.

I had a kid so excited that yesterday was Tuesday that he shoveled my drive, set the table, and cooked up the meat for me. 😄 

Edited to add: well, the above isn't quire right, either.  We do rotate through, but right now my kids get the same food two nights in a row.  Ds has a wicked practice schedule so I plan to make enough for two full meals for easy reheats.  I'm really only cooking 3-4 times a week from scratch.  Everything else is reworking what we have in the fridge.

Edited by HomeAgain

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This changes based on our schedules but, in general, Monday's are pasta. Tuesdays are mexican, Wednesdays are quick/easy, Thursdays are wild card days, Fridays are meatless/breakfast-for-dinner, Saturdays are try-new-things/grill out. Sundays are also wild cards or biscuits with either gravy or bacon-and-eggs.

That means we rotate through spaghetti, lasagna, manicotti, or another pasta dish on Mondays. Dd#1 rotated in a chicken penne pasta that we pretty much only have when she's arpund. Assume spaghetti 2x/month.

Tuesday is hard or soft tacos, nachoes, cheesy soft tacos, fajitas, paralyzed tacos (our version of walking tacos), etc.

Stew is twice per month. Some sort of hot dogs/pigs-in-blankets 2-3x/month. Mac-and-cheese, waffles, tuna salad sandwiches, and "fat pancakes" are meatless rotation items. Chili, burgers, manwiches, beef stir fry, enchilladas, chicken-with-rice, homemade pizza etc are about once per month or every six weeks. 

Breakfasts, except for special occasions, are fix-your-own. The older kids are supposed to plan & fix dinner once per week but dd#2 doesn't pull her weight in the kitchen, and dd#1 left for college in August... Dd#3 should start her rotation next year.

So, your kids could have it worse. ;)

Edited by RootAnn

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6 hours ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

I think it's ok for kids to say, respectfully, "Could we maybe find a few new foods to try?"  I also think it's ok for mom to say:  maybe, find me some recipes with less than 7 ingredients, that take less than an hour to cook.  Here's some cookbooks.  

Yes.  This.  Have kid find an easy recipe and then help prepare it for the family....even very young children can help.

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We lean toward more weekly repeats than not, but it isn’t exactly clockwork. I don’t have a “taco Tuesday”, but we tend to have a taco or taco-like meal every 7-10 days or so.  Same with spaghetti (sometimes different sauces or sides,) soup and sandwiches, a big beef dish, a big chicken dish (subs for the pescatarian and picky eater), etc.   They’re not always *exactly the same, but close. And not a specific day of the week, but close enough to weekly.  And we do burn out on some things and give those a rest for a while. (I’m over the whole weekly pizza thing.)

My family sometimes suggests new things or things we haven’t had in a while but I, as the main cook, am more often the one who gets sick of the same old thing. It’s probably been 3 weeks since our last Mexican night, and I’m kinda craving it now!

Breakfast and lunch are a whole other story. 95% of the time, everyone’s responsible for their own breakfast and lunch. I keep plenty of options on hand. Most family members stick to cereal, oatmeal, and/or yogurt (often even for lunch,) but shake it up with various add-ons.  They frequently snack on heavy (healthy or otherwise) snacks through the day that they make on their own; quesadillas, eggs, big salads (green or otherwise,) and leftovers are their go-tos.

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My dinner main dishes probably repeat 1-2x a month. Side items repeat more often (weekly or more). I tend to try a lot of new recipes (and I have a lot of "fails" ) so I hear "let's not make this again" pretty often... 😐

We eat the same 1-2 things for breakfast each day (breakfast bars, bananas, etc). Lunch is roughly a weekly repeat, unless leftovers are available. 

Edited by alisoncooks

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Kids are out now but when they were growing up we had some regular things - like frequent tacos, though it wasn't necessarily a weekly thing and not on a scheduled day - but I also tried to  add variety to help them expand their tastes. I grew up with a pretty limited diet, out of $$ necessity, and it wasn't till I was into my 30s that I was able to be a little adventurous with food. 

I've always welcomed feedback on the food I've served my family; if someone felt like we were having a particular item too often, it was OK for them to ask me to dial it back a little. Likewise, it was always OK for someone to ask for something more often. Everyone understood that people like different things and so we'd have meatloaf once in a while because Dad likes it even if no one else did, and chicken pot pie is a little complicated and time-consuming so we would have that less often.  The kids were also expected to make recipe suggestions and help out with cooking an item they wanted. 

I should add - breakfast was always pretty repetitive and kids started taking care of their own early on. And lunch around here always came as a surprise to  me, so it was a sort of free-for-all of leftovers and frozen stuff. 

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Breakfast we have like three things we rotate - oatmeal or cream of wheat with eggs and cottage cheese/fruit/etc most weekdays, and pancakes with sausage Friday and Sunday. Sometimes they complain but that’s how we roll.

Lunches tend to be sandwiches, nuggets, pizza, hot dogs, or dinner leftovers paired with a fruit and veggie.  Sometimes crackers and salami.  No complaints there.

Dinner we have a few staple recipes like white chicken chili, pot roast, spaghetti, pizza, burritos, stir fry, curry, etc, and we have those every week or two. Interspersed in there are hot dogs, nuggets, random experimental recipes, leftovers, and a few I do less commonly that have seasonal ingredients. We almost always pair these with fruit and a cooked veggie or salad, too. No complaints here either, generally. 
 

My kids aren’t super picky, but neither are they hugely adventurous eaters.  And it’s cheaper to buy the same kinds of ingredients in bulk and just switch up the protein and seasonings, so I try to plan menus like that for cheap and no brainer, or what my husband can put on because I’m gone several nights per week. 

Edited by Arctic Mama

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I go in spurts, sometimes I'll make something once a week for a month or two and not again for awhile. The older 3- (newly )10, 12, and 15 have a night a week to cook, although the 15 yo has been getting off easy b/c he has had Friday night and we've been often busy or gone on that night during the fall. They will often repeat meals when they cook, so they can't complain. Ds made lasagna for a month straight until the girls revolted. Dd1 often makes pasta. Dd2 likes more ethnic dishes- Pho, Yakisoba, Dragon Noodles. Tuesday is some variety of mexican (or tex mex)- quesadillas, tacos, burrito bowls, fajitas (although no one actually eats them in a fajita wrap), etc. I made grilled brats every other week in summer b/c they ard dh's favorite but the kids dont' care for them. WE've been trying more new recipes lately but we always have fall back recipes.Making new recipes all the time requires more time, I can make things I'm used to much quicker so I don't have the time and mental energy to do that all the time but try to keep an eye out for recipes that look good and easy to throw in the rotation. 

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We have pizza every Friday night too. And homemade breakfast every Saturday night - this is a family meal - everyone has a part to play (one does the eggs, one does bacon, one makes the biscuits, one makes the smoothie). If anyone complained, I'd give them the evil eye and put them in charge of making dinner.  But I'm not very tolerant of stuff like that - mostly because coming up with ideas for meals and implementing them is a constant thing - and it gets tiring. 

Now, if they are tired of pizza, they could respectfully ask if we could have (fill-in-the-blank) menu for Friday night. I don't like complaints. I do appreciate constructive suggestions with proposed solutions. 
ETA: My kids are older though. When they were younger, we'd probably have a discussion about complaining. Mine weren't really complainers. 

Edited by Bambam

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We do a lot of variety.  Other than taco Tuesday, a meal usually only gets repeated every 6-8 weeks or so.

DS10 complained that he’s sick of tacos.  So I switched it up and made fajitas... and he complained we weren’t having tacos.  Generally, he doesn’t like ANY food without a gluten component, but because we are an entirely GF house and never go out to eat, he just doesn’t like anything.  And he sees me cook dinner every night and not eat it and sometimes complain about not eating it, so I try to give him some leeway.  Unless I’m grumpy, too.  We’re quite the pair.

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I follow this framework with my week:

monday: roast (chicken, beef, pork, sausage &veggie, etc)

tuesday: Latin (Mexican or Cuban, I have a variety of options)

wednesday: pasta. I feed a crowd every wed so it’s always a pasta dish. 

thursday: pan dish. I have a million recipes that are one pan dishes. Chicken cacciatore, stir fry, Swiss steak, etc.

friday: sandwiches (burgers, chicken sandwich, cheesesteak, etc)

weekends really vary. Right now I’m making soup at least once a week. There’s usually a night that I don’t cook. We either have leftovers or eat out. 
 

My kids complain sometimes. I’ve given up on trying to satisfy their hopes and dreams. Ds wouldn’t eat the soup last night because it had beans. He made himself oatmeal. 

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When I make out meal plans- it would be Mexican on Tuesdays- do tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos.  So it’s the same but different.  Same with our pasta night- ravioli, spaghetti, lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo. It helps me to keep a pattern to my meals, but they are variations on it.

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I get on a roll with a couple meals, and we all love them for a while, but then get sick of them. 

Try changing things up a little for a couple months, then you can reignite the fire with some old favourites again.

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You cook?  How old are your kids?  If they can say "I'm sick of tacos," they are old enough to cook for you.

My family was like yours growing up.  We had certain meals that were standard every week, several that rotated 2-4 weeks, and often leftovers.

My kids actually prefer to know what they're getting - they like that we have pizza every Tuesday.  Other than Tuesdays, we wing it mostly.  We eat out or order in or have leftovers about half of the time.  Other times we cook a very simple meal.  I don't do more than that because we don't all like the same things, so it isn't worth the effort unless I have a hankering for something.

My kids can make something for themselves if they don't like what's offered.  Besides having different tastes from me, their tastes change a lot, so I refuse to make cooking for them a thing I care about iykwim.  It's not worth it.  Also, it's about time they started cooking for me.  😛

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7 minutes ago, Amy in NH said:

Ungrateful people who complain about the meals which are prepared for them get to do the cooking and cleaning.

Funny - once my kids turned 10/11/12, they were responsible for cleaning up the kitchen if I cooked. They cooked (or at least heavily helped prepare meals at that age too). When they cooked (one night/week), I cleaned up the kitchen for them. 

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My husband eats the same chicken rice lunch for office everyday because that’s what is easy for me to cook half awake in the morning before 8am. He prefers that to sandwiches. 

DS14 is picky and cooks his own food since he was young. He was tall for age so he could use the stove and microwave easily by the time he was 8. DS13 cooks but is less picky so he eats whatever DS14 cooks. 

Both kids will eat Trader Joe’s party size meatballs, Trader Joe’s shrimp gyoza, Japanese udon noodles, miso soup regularly but not consecutive days.

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We always have the same few things for breakfast and lunch, so I try to make dinner more varied. So maybe I'll make soup one night a week in cool weather, but it's not the same soup twice in one month--maybe black bean soup once, then sweet potato and tomato soup the next time, then "bacon soup" (with white beans and spinach), and then West African peanut soup or red lentil soup. I want a  different set of flavors even though it's still soup, and that gets us different nutrients as well.

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The idea of a monthly calendar with all dinners planned with shopping lists is intriguing.  However,  I cook what I'm in the mood for that day.  Wednesdays, I try for a soup or chili or curry, or sometimes a hot sandwich, so my husband can easily eat it at the hockey rink.  Sundays we traditionally have a big breakfast brunch, except I'd lately moved it to Saturday morning because I was getting tired of the midday Sunday work.  Our dinners are varied and go without repeating for a month.  My kids like things like tacos and burgers but I make them infrequently, not even monthly, not sure why, though I do usually do Mexican (not tacos) at least monthly, or sometimes go on a Mexican kick and cook it more frequently, depends on the mood and season I guess.  We do try to have fish twice weekly, but I change up prep.  My husband gets leftovers for lunch the next day, and kids and I either finish leftovers or have a sandwich or maybe an omelette for lunch.  Breakfast for kids is oatmeal or cereal on weekdays, or muffins or scones when I make them.  Occasionally, every other week, the boys will have french toast.   

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Weekly.

No, not exciting, but it gets the job done and streamlines grocery shopping. Once in a while I'll get bored and make something different on the weekends when I have more time. Lately, DH has been volunteering to make a more unique meal every two weeks or so. He gets bored with eating the same thing every week, but understands why I manage dinners this way.

As for the kids, yes, they complain. I have 4 and they all like different things. Part of the reason why I rotate meals weekly is because I know most kids will eat most of those meals most nights. I usually have to "encourage" one or more kids to eat their dinner every night. The older ones are used to it and don't complain much when it's no they're favorite.

Decision fatigue is a thing. But my kids like to help in the kitchen, and I look forward to the day I can pass some of that off.

 

As for breakfast, I keep cereal, waffles, bread (for toast) and bagels on hand. I fix eggs and yogurt for myself and DH, bigger kids get their own food, little kids get help. Nothing fancy. Same 4 choices everyday.

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I don't think twice a month is an excessive repeat of meals as long as you switch up seasonally. I grew up eating seasonably with mostly local foods.  By the time you get tired of an ingredient it goes out of season and you're on to something else.  When it's cold, I want soup.  When it's hot, I want salad.  I may run my favorite half dozen soup recipes into the ground from October-March, but then we don't see them again in the spring and summer.  

If you're comfortable with specific ingredients/flavors maybe you can do something else with them.  Try a Mexican-flavored dish that isn't tacos.  It doesn't have to be tricky or authentic.  It can be making quesadillas or enchiladas instead.  Maybe do sheet pan chicken fajitas, or a taco soup.  Change your pizza night to a pasta night for a while and see how that flies.  Do burgers instead of meatloaf for a season.  HOWEVER, they can't have it both ways.  You're either willing to try something different or you're not.  If they complain either way then they lose the choice and you go back to what's easiest for the cook.

ETA: Some people are more wired to voice their thoughts more than others.  I think it's OK to be honest as long as it's not rude.  "Ah man, I don't LIKE chicken." is honest and easy enough to blow off.  "Why do you always have to make chicken when you know I don't like it.  Why can't we ever have something different? ::huff puff whine stomp with a sour face::" crosses the line for me and would get shut down.  It's their job to be kind and it's my job to not get emotional about a simple, honest statement.

Edited by KungFuPanda
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I agree with Monica. Okay for kids to respectfully ask for things to change up or express that they aren't enjoying the level of repetition. Also okay for the cook to turn it over to the kids and invite them to fix the problem themselves. Or to say, I don't have a problem with this much repetition and I'm the cook, sorry you feel that way.

We repeat about as often as the OP. We do tacos, pizza, burgers, spaghetti, meat+veggie, and stir fry a lot. But... the exact sort of burger, taco, veggie, stir fry, etc. often changes. Like, I'll do grilled chicken tacos, traditional beef tacos, black bean tacos with slightly different salsas and so forth. 

Edited by Farrar

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We usually only repeat a dinner meal once a month.  I get easily burned out on the same food and dislike leftovers, so I try to vary what we eat as much as possible. We try new meals frequently.

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I repeat entrees every six to eight weeks. We don't eat the same thing twice in a month for dinner. But that is my choice, not based on family demands. I don't make complicated meals and often use the crock pot, but I have acquired a long list of things that we like, over the years.

Years ago, when I was bored with serving the same offerings and was having a hard time being creative, I just opened a Word document and listed out all of the things that I liked to make, and I was surprised to see that I already had more than 30 things on there, without having to come up with anything new. I've added some new recipes since then, so my list has grown. When I feel I am in a rut, I can look at my list and get ideas without having to search for something new. I do try new recipes when I have the chance, as well, but I don't have the time or inclination frequently.

I also make my menu plan on a cheap little pocket calendar, so I can look back over previous months to be reminded of things that we like but haven't eaten for awhile. This helps me a LOT.

My long list of recipes includes about 8 different types of soups, so we have one a week. This is an easy way to have variety for two months but not be constantly coming up with something new. In the same vein, I don't like to serve pasta or noodles as the main dish more than once a week, but I have a bunch of things that include pasta or noodles. So if I pan a pasta dish once a week, we can go for weeks without repeating.

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I have one more thing to add.  I did endure YEARS of "comments" before my kids developed more varied palates.  They were not naturally adventurous eaters and had to be exposed to some things for ages before they learned to like them.  Had I stuck to tacos, pizza, chicken strips, etc to avoid discontent I'm not sure they would have grown to like most things.  This means every now and then a kid eats rolls and carrot sticks for dinner so you just make sure their next meal has more protein. As long as there is something on the table they can eat I'm fine with that. We usually did a small taste before they could refuse.  Now, one kid had his refusal at the ready before the flavor even hit is lips, but he eventually outgrew that.

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I plan meals 2 weeks at a time which naturally limits repetition, although we do homemade pizza on Fridays and fish tacos on the second Sunday. 

My mom taught my kids, "I have not learned to appreciate ______" Which works because it sounds polite even when you feel whiny and it makes everyone giggle.

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I tried that whole expose them to everything with my kids.  My kids were the most well-exposed toddlers I ever knew.  They ate the stuff too.

The transition from "yay food" to "I hate everything you like" was a gradual multi-year process starting about age 2.  Like most moms, I pressed the issue for a while, then decided that they were unlikely to die of starvation regardless.

I have recently decided that sitting together eating different foods is actually just as nice as sitting together eating the same foods ... sometimes even nicer.  🙂

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We do a lot of repeating due to picky eaters, monetary limits, food allergies, and mom being tired of menu planning for ungrateful children.  Each child now has a night to menu plan for and cook, and it has made them slightly (very slightly) more appreciative of what I go through when I get complains about meals.

Breakfasts are on their own, so it is up to them how much repetition they want.  Lunches are weekly, same thing each week day (Monday - sandwiches, Tuesday - burritos, etc.), except I try to change up weekends a bit.  Weeknights have some constants like taco Tuesday, but other nights are varied.  Some things are once a month and some things are weekly.  One kid has two meals on his night that he rotates through.

I used to love meal planning and trying new things but food allergies and picky eaters have worn me down. Now I about cry every time I sit down to plan out the menu every two weeks.

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I repeat meals when someone asks me to. My meal planning usually consists of asking "What would you like for dinner?" because for me the hard part is deciding. I keep a fairly well-stocked pantry so can normally oblige. If not, I try to serve the request within a few days.

For dinner parties I give it a little more thought. 😉

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