Educators, Dietitians, Nurses, Mental Health & Fitness Professionals
Menu Planning & Recipes
« Top a Greek Salad with Chicken Breast | Main | How to Eat Better at Work AND Save Time and Money »

Menu Planning--Dealing with eating styles, weight loss, and pickiness

You may have already found Why Plan a Weekly Menu on my website. If so, I wonder if you clicked on it, or if your eyes glazed over?

I haven’t met too many people these days that plan ahead with a weekly menu. Still, I am going to try to convince you that it’s worth your time and has all kinds of benefits.

The more mouths you have to feed, the more this will help you out. Not only that but it’s a great way to get kids involved in cooking, and feeling like they’re making a valuable contribution to the household. Then there’s also the break parents get for the night or two that the kids cook (depending on how old your kids are, and how many you have). And hey, if you don't have kids, you still save time, money, and eat better!

As I discuss in Why Plan a Weekly Menu this task is actually a lot less daunting than you might expect. Here are some additional but important points that I know I need to touch on. Take a glance at our March 2011 Menu to get a feel for what I'm talking about.

Additional considerations for the menu planning process:

Working around eating styles: Our daughter is lacto-ovo vegetarian (eats no meat/poultry/fish, but eats dairy and eggs); my husband is semi-vegetarian (eats no red meat, but eats fish and poultry). Our son and I eat pretty much everything (just way different quantities)! This is why—when you look at our recipes—you see a lot of vegetarian recipes, and various meat substitute products like Boca and Tofurky. When our daughter moves to college in the fall we’ll have a lot less meat substitutes and more chicken and fish on the menu.

Working with weight loss maintenance: Three of the four of us are maintaining 30- to 40-pound weight losses; so for the three of us portion sizes (and calories) matter. [That’s the first time I ever wrote that down, kind of impressive!] On the flip side, there’s our 16-year-old (six-foot two-inch male-eating-machine) who needs seemingly endless calories! We work around this dichotomy in two ways: 1) our rice cooker is always on (usually with brown basmati rice) so that lots of extra calories are available; and 2) is that our son has a substantial afternoon snack that is easily equivalent to another meal or (two!) for the rest of us.

Given this background, it will make sense when you look at our recipes that they generally fall in the 300- to 400-calorie range per (entree) serving. Again, that leaves room to add a side of rice, and a side vegetable or salad. We generally don’t eat dessert except on special occasions and holidays. We do however—almost always—have a small piece of good chocolate after dinner.

Working with individual likes and dislikes (pickiness): We’re fortunate not to have much of this to work around. Papa thinks Brussels sprouts are evil; for me it’s lima beans. Our son isn’t big on our Chinese Cabbage Salad recipe, which the rest of us love. He’s still a sport and will eat a side serving portion. Our daughter doesn’t like—but will eat—pineapple. The point here is that you take these issues into account as you plan. This blog is on healthy eating, not parenting; that said, I recommend allowing kids to have no more than two or three "dislikes." After that expect them to be a sport; also remember that you need to set a good example. We do eat dinner together as a family every night.

For more information on on the "division of responsibility in feeding children" see: Ellyn Satter (she has long been THE expert on this topic) and Jill Castle MS RD's blog, "Just the Right Byte."

Good for you! You stuck with me; so I hope I’ve at least got you thinking about the possibility of menu planning for your family. Check out my menus and recipes to jump start your own menu.

Have fun!

Got some questions? Post them here—I look forward to hearing from you!

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>