Friday, March 12, 2010

What's for Dinner?

What's for dinner -- or WFD -- is a classic question in our household. It helps to have ideas ahead of time, either by making a menu plan or just a list of menu options for the week. By having a list in your mind of the possible options, all of which you have the ingredients for, you are better able to make a healthy dinner decision that does not involve ordering take out. Not only is this healthier, but it also saves you money.

I did make a weekly menu plan for this week. We didn't follow it, but that's ok. That's all part of being flexible. Sure we could stick to the menu plan no matter what, but if it comes down to a choice between eating all the food that is cooked and following the menu plan, I'm always going to choose the former. Plus, let's face it, we don't always want what is "planned", so I've found its a better practice for us to have many options to choose from while being flexible about when to have each option. That way, we can pick "what we want" from the available options and by using the menu plan to shop off of, we have all the stuff available to make what we want to eat.

As far as meat goes, we only eat sausage, bacon, venison, chicken, turkey, and fish, so that limits our choices somewhat. We also eat nuts, beans, and eggs as sources of protein. We make sure to eat at least one veggie with dinner and strive for more than one whenever possible. I think its important to have as many "food colors" as possible present in our meals, so I prefer veggie mixes that contain several "food colors" such as california blend steamed veggies, mixed veggies, stews packed with veggies, etc.

We also like to make extras so that there is enough left over to either eat leftovers for lunch the next day or make something else with the next day. For example, leftover chicken from chicken stew can be used to make chicken salad for lunch the next day and the leftover veggies can be served as a side alongside it. Extra taco meat, spanish rice and beans can be wrapped into a tortilla the next day as a burrito. Leftover chili can be used to make thundermakers (open faced hamburgers with chili and cheese on top of the patty). The possibilities are endless and having a plan for how to use leftovers can help you to stretch your food budget while cutting down on the preparation time for meals. If you only have to prepare dinners and use the leftovers for lunch, then you can use the time you would have spent preparing lunch to do something else -- spend time with your kids or spouse or prepare dinner so that you can use dinner's prep time to do something else.

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