Meal Planning & Recipes
If you find yourself frequenting the drive-thru a little too often, consider creating a weekly menu plan at the same time you make your shopping list. Then post it in a central location to avoid the endless "what's for dinner?" questions from the ranks and to remind you what the plan is each morning. It's not as hard as you think and will offer you peace of mind and a sense of control over even your most hectic weekday schedule. You'll be doing your health, your wallet and your waistline a favor and will be giving your family the good, balanced nutrition they need to keep their minds and bodies sharp and ready to face any challenge.
A few tips on getting started:
A few tips on getting started:
- Consult the calendar - Which nights in the coming week are likely to leave you short on time and temper? Plan something quick and simple. Save your favorite Emeril recipe for the weekend or a night when you have more wiggle-room in the schedule. Right now you truly need to kick it up a notch...Bam!
- Cook one dinner for everyone! - You are not a short-order cook. Studies have proven that kids develop taste buds over time and may have to be introduced to a food at least ten times before they begin to like it. Cook things that can be modified for the truly picky while still offering them the opportunity to expand their horizons.
- Use time-saving tools - The freezer, slow-cooker, rice cooker, and microwave are your best friends when time is short. Planning in advance enables you to take advantage of some of these tools by doing prep work when you have more time available. Using homemade mixes you can make in advance or purchasing pre-chopped meats and vegetables can really speed things up on hectic nights.
- Keep a "Do-Again" List - Bookmark favorite online recipes or make a list of family favorites to help generate ideas on what to cook. Freshen up your repertoire by trying a new recipe every week or two on evenings when life is a bit more relaxed.
- Keep it Balanced - Variety is the spice of life. Try to incorporate a mix of different cuisines, tastes, and textures. Don't forget to include side dishes in your plan too. Plan a main protein dish (beef, chicken, fish, pork, legumes, or cheese), a starch (rice, barley, pasta, bread) and a vegetable or green salad to ensure variety.
- Have a Back-up Plan - Identify a few meal solutions you can serve up in a jiffy when the unexpected happens. Visit the recipes in this section of our website for ideas. Whether it's keeping a few emergency cans of soup in the pantry for an impromptu "Soup and Sandwich Night" or picking up a rotisserie chicken and Caesar salad fixings at the grocery store on the way home, just make sure it's a plan you feel good about. Even an occasional fast food run is fine, as long as you are okay with it and don't make it the norm. Take some time to identify a healthier fast food option you won't feel guilty about.
- Shop Purposefully - Add all needed ingredients (including side dish items) on your weekly shopping list. Try out our laminated grocery list; keep it in front of you as you plan and simply check off items you need to buy as you go. Reduce waste by planning dishes that will use up ingredients you already have in your fridge or freezer before they expire.