Meal Planning, the In’s and Out’s
Every once in a while, I get questions about meal planning and how to do it for a family with children who are picky eaters. Well get ready all your answers are coming up!!!
My background in food is not just Culinary School; I also majored in Nutrition and Dietetics. So my food is not only delicious, but good for you, so I definitely know how to plan a meal that’s healthy and will keep you and your family full!
Everyone knows the basics; protein, starch, vegetable. A lot of questions start with; which protein, how much starch, cooked or raw vegetables? Quick answer; whichever protein you like, depends on the meal, and however you and your family like to eat vegetables!
Long answer; in terms of protein change it up. Who wants to eat chicken for dinner 5 nights in a row, I don’t. If you are planning for a whole week you can do chicken at the beginning and the end of the week, but no more than that. If you’re reading a recipe that calls for chicken you can always substitute turkey for it, yes you have that right, it’s for you and your family, change a recipe to best suit your family!!!! In terms of portion sizes a good guide is 4 ounces or ¼ pound per person. You can always make more but that’s the golden rule with proteins. One chicken breast is usually 2 servings.
In regards to starch; I’d also switch it up. We’ve all heard the “meat and potato” rule, but starches have come so far from that!!! Try some quinoa, farro or even cauliflower. Mashed cauliflower is so delicious; your family won’t even notice the difference!!! If you are going to be making a pasta dish as the main component to the meal but are worried about the amount of carbohydrates there are several different options. Most grocery stores now sell spiral vegetable noodles, made with zucchini or yellow squash. You can always make yourself, but why spend your time doing that when your children want you to come play with them? You can mix it up and do half regular pasta and half vegetable noodles to try it out if you like. In terms of portion size for starches a good guide is 4 ounces or ½ a cup. With pasta and rice you start with 2 ounces or a ¼ cup raw, they will absorb the cooking liquid and double to the 4 ounces or ½ cup portion size.
Now for the vegetables; refer back to the protein section as well as the entry of “Getting Your Children Into The Kitchen.” Mix up the vegetables; while carrots are delicious, no one wants them 5 nights in a row! Frozen vegetables are great, every once in a while or in a casserole, but fresh wins every time for me! Side salads are great, but if your children won’t eat a basic green salad, I would give them a “goody salad”. A goody salad is all the extras in a green salad: cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, jicama, celery etc. without the lettuce part! Voila! Everyone eating the same meal!