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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Menu and Meal Planning

To eat better, someone in the family has to take charge of meals. I firmly believe that eating out frequently, especially at fast food restaurants, packs on the pounds. My family eats out an average of once a week and rarely do we eat fast food. Cooking at home gives you more control of the money you spend also.
Confession: I love to eat and I love to cook. Eating at restaurants is a huge treat for my family.
Now I realize that many people don't share my love of cooking but hopefully my tips will help make this chore easier. The burden of meals doesn't have to fall on one person. Even children can and should help. Family members can take turns shopping, cooking and cleaning up.
1. Cooking will be much more stressful unless you'ved planned a menu 3 or 4 days in advance and done the grocery shopping. Then when you do get home, everything is on hand and ready to go. I am amazed at people who head out the door at five saying, "I have no idea what we'll have for dinner." If you shop for food without a list and a menu plan, you will waste time and money because you will purchase impulse items and forget important ingredients. A list keeps me focused.
2. Sit down with weekly sales circulars, your recipes and make a list of what you will cook for three or four days. Keep in mind the family schedule, planning easy, quick meals for busy days. Then make your grocery list. This takes me about 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Get a 3 ring notebook with plastic sleeves to keep your favorite recipes in so they are easy to find. If meal ideas are really a struggle, work on collecting 30 days worth of simple recipes that you can rotate.

Quick and easy meal suggestion: Try Jimmy Dean's Breakfast Skillets with Ham. This costs between $4 to $6 and would make a great fast dinner. Add a fruit or green salad and your meal is ready in about 15 minutes. A serving has 270 calories, 4 grams of fat, with 1 gram saturated and 0 transfat.

Next time I will talk about Wii Fit!

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