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Meal Planning.....How to Avoid Monotony

Updated on September 18, 2009

The Old Stand-Bys

Have you finally developed a group of recipes that your family likes? Except, you have gotten in a "food rut," and closed your mind to anything new? Are you tired of cooking, and your family is tired of the same meals? It is time for a change!

Even if your family likes the old stand-bys you can vary these meals.

First of all, you need to know if your family is being fed nutritiously. The US Department of Agriculture states that a healthy diet is one that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. It includes lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and nuts and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars.For sample menus go to http://www.mypyramid.gov/downloads/sample_menu.pdf.




Flavor, Texture and Color

Once you know your meals are nutritionally sound, you can use three elements that have appetite appeal: flavor, texture and color.

Flavor

There are many ways to flavor your food. Spices and herbs can make your foods come alive. An example of using spices in your food is my hub

idealfoodimages.com
idealfoodimages.com

Herbs can be added to everything from biscuits, breads, butter to rice and it will have a different flavor. Remember the old song, "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme," to give you a few ideas.

Texture

The texture of food is, how it feels in your mouth. Why do we like our omelets with hash browns instead of mashed potatoes? Or our salads with croutons? Or our cream pies with a graham cracker crust? It is the texture that you feel in your mouth when you eat it.



Color

The color of food can make a meal taste better. Imagine a meal of cream soup, sliced turkey, boiled potatoes, cauliflower and vanilla ice cream. It would be depressing.

We eat with our eyes as well as our taste buds. A meal should be as balanced in color as it is in nutrition.

images.google.com
images.google.com

Rice & Vegetable Chicken Casserole

webmd.com
webmd.com

Hot Bread

static.px.yelp.com
static.px.yelp.com

Planning Your Meals

Meals can be planned for a week at a time. You do not have to say, "I'm going to have _____on Monday and _____on Tuesday." Just plan 7 meals and have them in any order.

Always make sure you include enough food from each food group. Build the main part of your meal around rice, noodles or other grains. Use small amounts of meat, poultry, fish or eggs. One serving size of meat, poultry or fish should be the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. A good example of a meal built around rice would be a Casserole of Rice and Vegetables with Chicken. Select a Hot Bread and a Salad. Meat is usually the most expensive ingredient, so we can save money by following the food pyramid.

Plan a meal featuring a main dish salad like Sea Food Salad. Then perhaps, choose a fruit dessert like Strawberry Shortcake. Check out my hub on More Summer Salads for ideas.

Choose a main dish soup like Black Bean Soup, add a salad like Raw Cauliflower and Tomatoes on crisp Romaine Lettuce and Hot Corn Muffins.






Add Variety

If you usually serve mashed potatoes, try baked potatoes or potato salad instead. Try new ways to cook foods, for example try a slow cooker or a crock pot. Plan leftovers ahead of time. When cooking a turkey or ham, cut it in half and freeze it for another meal.

Cook in batches when you can. If you make a pot of chili, freeze it in individual servings or as many family servings as you need. Buy fruits and vegetables in season for snacks. When not in season, buy dried fruits like apples, apricots, raisins, cranberries.

Stock up on sale items. You will save money in the long run, even though it may strain the budget now. Make food from scratch instead of buying it already prepared. The difference in cost is worth it.

Try store brands. Sometimes they are made by the same manufacturer without the marketing costs. Buy large bags of frozen vegetables. Use what you need and put the rest back in the freezer.


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    • judydianne profile image
      Author

      judydianne 8 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      RM, that's very true and if everything is mush, it's awful! There has to be a balance of texture. Thanks for the comments.

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Texture is an underappreciated aspect of food. If it doesn't feel right in my mouth, ball game over.

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