Week 2 in the Series
Ahh, meal planning. It is such a double edged sword. On one hand, I love shopping for fresh foods and getting excited about what I can create with them. On the other hand, carting around a toddler who refuses to sit in a shopping basket is not my idea of a fun way to spend my time. So I’ve had to get creative in my approaches. (Thank God for AmazonFresh and the QFC daycare at U Village!)
To understand meal planning, it’s important to know which food groups you need to plan for at each meal. Check out the picture to see which foods are needed at the different meals of the day. These plate models are adapted from the Idaho Plate Method . You can print your own for free under teaching materials on the site.
This picture tells you which food groups to include but it doesn’t tell you how much. This will be based on your personal calorie needs. When we work together, I calculate out specific calories based on multiple factors. From here we figure out how many of each food group you need in a day to make up this calorie level. To get a general sense of your nutrition needs and portion sizes, check out the MyPyramid website.
Now that you have a clear picture as to what food groups you need to fill up on, it’s time to start planning. The first place to begin is your kitchen! Rummage through your cookbooks and online recipes to see what excites you. If you aren’t motivated to prepare a dish or even excited to eat it, then why cook it? Remember from the last post, you are looking for 2 breakfast recipes, 1-2 snack recipes, and 4 dinner recipes to prepare.
Now take your chosen recipes and see how they fit onto your plate models. What pieces are missing? Which are in excess? This is the time to balance the scales. If your dish is mainly pasta, consider serving it as a side and add a salad. Do you have protein? Milk/dairy? A fruit?
Most people prefer to move their dairy and fruit options at the main meals to eat as their snacks. This is completely fine to do.
Formulate your grocery shopping list using the balanced out plate model handout. Note that creativity and variety are not in any way stifled through this process. Instead, you now have a foundation to guide your planning and cooking process.
The next step is yours! Weekly Challenge: Print out a Daily Meal Plate handout, peruse your cookbooks for inspirational recipes, and balance your plates. The kids love this activity because they can color in their meals and feel they have some say in their food choices.
Zen Recipe Corner:
Veggies All Ways
1 small bunch collard greens, chopped
1 small bunch rainbow chard, stems removed and chopped
3 turnips, diced
¼ c diced red onion
½ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp canola oil
½ fennel bulb, diced
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Rinse and drain collard greens and rainbow chard. Add to large bowl and sprinkle salt on. Massage with your hands for 1-2 minutes. (This makes the greens less bitter.) Heat skillet on medium high heat, when pre-heated add oil. Let heat for 1 minute. Add onion, turnip, and fennel. Sautee’ until almost tender. Add greens to pan in small bunches. Let cook down a bit before adding another handful. With last handful of greens add in apple cider vinegar, black pepper, and cranberries. Sautee until greens have wilted. Add more salt/pepper to taste.
Serving Suggestions: (You can really use any veggies you like in this recipe and it’ll come out great!)
1. as a side dish (goes great with fish and quinoa),
2. add choice of meat, brown rice, and peanut sauce for a quick left over stir fry
3. Mixed in with scrambled eggs & ½ oz shredded mozzarella
4. Stuff into a hummus lined whole wheat pita pocket topped with fresh goat cheese
5. Add the last bit to a tomato sauce and toss with whole grain pasta