Healthy Menu Matters
Executing a healthy menu for weeknight family dinners is a challenge made far more doable when the menu is planned in advance. Taking time out every week to plan the family dinner menu not only increases the likelihood of healthy dinners but also saves time and reduces stress.
A pre-planned dinner menu takes away the preoccupation and dread associated with dinner preparations. Even the most simple menu outline will relieve anxiety and make grocery shopping less daunting. Heading to the shops with a list made for a menu will save time, money and mental energy.
Planning a healthy menu is simpler than it seems. Five dinners equals 5 proteins, 5 starches and 10 vegetables. Plan the protein first, then add a complimenting starch and a rainbow. This applies to mixed dishes as well, for example
mince + mashed potato + grated carrot + spinach = cottage pie served with spinach
Create a menu planning table using nutritious foods enjoyed by the family and extend it with nutritious foods requiring more attention. Dietary diversity is an important part of achieving a healthy menu and a healthy family.
Healthy ingredients make for healthy dinners. Make sure to have them on hand.
or legume* (> ¼ cup)
|Starch||Legume (< ¼ cup)
or starchy vegetable (½ cup)
|Savoury mince||Baby potatoes||Lentils*||Spinach||Olive oil|
|Meat balls with lentils||Mashed potato||Chickpeas*||Broccoli||Canola oil|
|Chicken thighs||Whole-wheat spaghetti||Butter beans*||Cauliflower||Avocado|
|Roast chicken||Cous Cous||Kidney beans*||Cabbage||Mayonnaise|
|Chicken kebabs||Basmati rice||4 –in- 1 bean mix*||Green beans||Raw Nuts|
|Pork fillet||Brown rice||Hummus*||Green peas||Seeds|
|Soya patty||Butter bean smash||Pumpkin||Fresh herbs|
|Meat cubes||Roast potatoes||Carrots||Sweet peppers||Dried herbs|
|Steak||Sweet potato||Butternut||Gem squash||Spices, salt free|
|Pork Chop||Roast vegetables with sweet potato||Corn||Patty pans||Garlic|
|Lamb chop||Lentil rice||Beetroot||Onion||Tomato|
|Fish||Corn on the cob||Mixed vegetables||Mushrooms||Lemon juice|
|Ostrich mince||Barley||Green beans with potato||Baby Marrows||Lemon zest|
|Chicken thighs||Whole-wheat samp||Sweetened pumpkin||Lettuce||Pepper|
|Tinned fish||Baked potato||Gem squash filled with lentils or corn||Cucumber||Nut butter|
Planning a healthy menu as a family is a great avenue to include children in the effort to achieve healthy eating as a family. Listening to children’s opinions and including some of their suggestions makes them part of the planning process which is likely to increase their eating potential. Parental control must however be maintained. Tweak suggestions made by children when necessary to improve the nutritional quality of a meal.
Once in the habit of menu planning, it will become easier and the rewards of the effort will outweigh the work.