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Meal planning is a must if your goal is to provide healthy meals to your family. Everyone knows that healthy meal planning should be incorporated into every meal, but the reality is that we often don’t have the time to organize and prepare the recipe plan.
The last thing you want to do is go grocery shopping with the healthy eating pyramid in mind and then prepare two or more menus for the same meal simply to accommodate the likes and dislikes of family members.
Also, serving unpopular, healthy meals is usually counterproductive because family members will later eat sweets, chips, soda, ice cream with topping and other junk food in order to satisfy their craving for sugary treats.
The answer is to know the dislikes of your individual family members and if possible omit those from your menu planning. If that is not possible, compromise a little and serve a low-fat, low sugar treats with the meal, like a sugar free yogurt or applesauce.
Menu planning is a time consuming process that you might not be able to fit into a busy schedule. If that’s the case, think about a menu planning service to customize a four week menu plan that your whole family can enjoy.
To get started on your menu planning, let’s look at 3 areas that make the creative dinner planning process a little easier.
Strategy #1 – Grouping the Days
Grouping the days is first deciding which evening meal is going to be partial or total leftovers from the preceding three evening meals. For example, if you choose Saturday evening meal, plan Friday, Thursday and Wednesday with appropriate healthy meals.
The easiest way to do that planning is simply figure how much of the leftovers are going to be how much of the Saturday meal. Very easy, for example if you want 3 pork chops available on Saturday, Thursday cook the usual meal amount plus 3.
Strategy #2 – Meal Pattern Rotation
Menu rotation is a proven creative menu planning technique. The idea is to plan a good number of healthy meals for the family, for example: 14 days of meals and then repeat the meal plan cycle. You can add the number of days as your time permits.
Now think of yourself as the coach of a sports team. You have your basic plays and then you have new plays you want to add. You may have to put some new players on the field and take some players off the field. Here is the key: the coach does not get rid of the player taken off the field and you do not want to get rid of a meal removed from the rotation.
Two reasons, one is the main dish probably was liked by the family at some level, so it may just need to be tuned a little, and secondly, when you have accumulated a number of rotated items, you have at the least a set of weekly dinner menus. One option is to reshuffle all the menu ideas and prepare a new and expanded meal planner.
Strategy #3 – Appliance Timing Devices
Timed appliances are meal planning resources available to you and can open new options for dinner planning.
For instance, the microwave oven is not only for heating water, popping popcorn, and cooking frozen food. Fresh vegetables such as a casserole or a combo dish of sweet potatoes, apple slices all topped with cinnamon are two possibilities that cook quickly in a microwave.
A timed oven is perfect to cook a roast while you are away doing something entirely different than cooking. Likewise, a timed rotisserie is perfect for chicken, ribs or a small turkey.
A timed Crockpot can provide an option on meals such as pot roast, stews, soups and the like.