There seem to be four factors that matter to me in selecting a meal: cost, ease of preparation, appeal to the ducklings, and messiness. (All of our meals, after various adjustments and justifications are pretty healthy, and I don't cook foods the grownups don't like.) The ideal menu, then, would get four stars, one for each category.
I tried seriously applying this to my menu plans, and discovered that I only have about one four-star menu a week. Those are the days when I look at the menu and think, "Hooray!" Most of the menus are three-star, which usually means either the ducklings don't care much for it or it's messy. (Spaghetti, for instance, is cheap and easy to fix and beloved by the ducklings, but is oh so very messy. Same goes for black beans. Pasta salad, on the other hand, is cheap and easy to fix and not messy, but for some reason the ducklings don't usually get too excited about it.)
I only have one two-star menu: cottage cheese enchiladas. It's expensive (because I refuse to buy cottage cheese with fillers) and messes up the whole kitchen. But everyone loves it so much that I can't quite bring myself to drop it from the plan.
It seems to me that the way to upgrade a menu from three-star to four-star would be for the ducklings to learn to like it. This doesn't work very quickly, but I persist, especially if it's something I know they already like all the ingredients of and therefore ought to like together. (Hey, it took me twelve years, but I eventually did learn to like lasagna.) That, or they could learn to eat more neatly.
But perhaps I should look into some modifications to bring more menus into the four-star category. Anyway, now I know where the problems are.