Don’t think of it as meal planning….you’re creating “daily specials”

Don’t think of it as meal planning….you’re creating “daily specials.”

Planning is the key for successful family meals, but menu-planning sessions too often take place between the produce aisle and the meat section. Last minute shoppers can be easily side-tracked by anything that looks interesting or especially appealing at that moment¬ – with nary a thought as to how it will combine into an actual edible meal. It’s a proven fact: if one is uncertain what to serve for dinner by noon that day, there is a good chance the family will be staring at the local default takeout option that night.

Getting the family to eat nutritiously, while taking the stress out of the last-minute “what’s for dinner?” stress attacks…that’s the motivation. Here’s how to get it together before gathering together!

Healthy Steps by Jokari offers five tips for planning simple, balanced and nutritious family-time meals.

1. Identify your family’s favorites. These are the top five recipes you know your family will eat. Take a poll, but keep in mind half of your plate needs to be full of fruits and vegetables. These favorites can become your family’s “daily specials.” For example, Pasta Night can become a weekly event to look forward to. Add this recipe to your family favorites this week.

Healthy Steps Garden Fresh Primavera
1 cup asparagus tips
3/4 cup red pepper strips
½ cup snow peas, trimmed
½ cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces light cream cheese
2 tablespoons cream
2 cups chicken breast, cooked
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
3 cups fettuccini, cooked
1/3 cup fresh chives, snipped
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan

Sauté asparagus, red pepper, snow peas and garlic in a large skillet, about 5 minutes or until slightly tender. Remove from pan and keep warm. Place cream cheese and whipping cream into skillet. Stir to melt cream cheese and cream. Add chicken, salt, pepper and pasta to the cream mixture. Plate and top with fresh chives and Parmesan.

2. Create a master grocery list, print it and keep it on a clipboard by the refrigerator or stick it on a magnet. Detail all the items you typically use in week. This includes breakfast staples, paper products and cleaning needs. Your goal: Weekly trips to the grocery store, not numerous pop-ins for vital ingredients.

3. At the start of each week, review the calendar. Who must be where, when, and what activity might conflict with dinner? Here is where you go easy on yourself. Schedule a breakfast for dinner night, take-home Chinese, or a pizza and movie night. Just try to order the correct amount, split meals into portions, avoid the seconds and leftovers. No one enjoys a martyr cook at mealtime.

4. Plan the meals, print the recipes and add to the clipboard. The process is simplified when your list, recipes and weekly schedule are all in one spot. Remember to stick to your plan while keeping it simple, with fresh fruits and vegetables.

5. Double a favorite dinner recipe when you can. But wrap half of it well and freeze. This will be a maximum time saver for those difficult days.

Once the menus are planned, Healthy Steps has taken the guesswork out of serving your family properly every time, even from the stovetop. Our innovative line of portion control kitchen tools simplifies the nightly process of plating meals for a family.

Healthy Steps is a wellness-focused line of everyday kitchen tools developed to help manage portion sizes at home. For example, the Portion Control Pasta Basket is a basket and colander in one; you can cook and serve the proper portion of pasta every time. The Portion Control Protein Server is a spatula measuring one 3 oz. serving of cooked protein. Once your meals are planned, the serving is a breeze.

Doug Taeckens

Doug Taeckens is the President and CEO of Healthy Steps by Jokari. Doug is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in marketing & finance, and an MBA with a focus on marketing.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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