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Themed Meal Planning for the Whole Family

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One of my favorite parts of being a dietitian is learning new recipes and ideas from each individual I work with. Oftentimes, I leave sessions feeling inspired with new ideas for creativity in the kitchen. This blog post is dedicated to one of my clients who shared this fun meal planning tool with me. It not only provides structure but also leaves plenty of room for creativity and adventure in the kitchen! When it comes to eating mindfully on a busy schedule, meal planning can be a great tool.

Planning ahead is helpful in many aspects of life. When it comes to meals, planning ahead for 1-2 weeks can help cut costs and decrease the daily decisions when it comes to food. While meal planning can seem overwhelming, it does not have to be.

So, how can you incorporate creativity and ease in meal planning?

A “themed” weeknight meal planning tool! What it involves is thinking of 5-6 weekly themes for each day of the week then researching for new fun recipes or adding in tried-and-true favorites for each week. My husband and I have been following this style of cooking at home for the last 2 months, and we have tried so many different recipes and cuisine styles from around the world. I keep a list of past recipes on the “notes” app on my phone with my grocery list so I can recycle our favorites. Keeping it all in one place helps to keep me organized.

Theme ideas:

Day of the week

Theme

Monday

Bowl Night

Tuesday

Taco Tuesday

Wednesday

“Wok” Night

Thursday

Sheet Pan Dinner

Friday

Pizza Night

Other theme ideas could be meatless Monday, tastes from around the world Tuesday, breakfast for dinner, tried-true favorites Thursday, or freezer Friday. The options really are endless.

We believe at Lemond that nutrition is for the whole family! Care givers, I encourage you to involve all of your family members in the meal planning and food preparation process. The skills that they learn now will help them as they transition into independence. To use this method for your family, you could start by having one family member pick a theme. This family member could then be responsible for thinking of the meal idea for their night and helping prepare the dish. Remember to save the recipes that were favorites to repeat in the future.

When planning, remember to plan for flexibility too. I have included a few ideas for meals using the themes listed earlier. You will see that I planned for a “left overs” night for a week. Stay away from harsh food rules, as these are not only frustrating but can create added stress for your family. Instead, my hope is that this can be a possible tool to alleviate stress and involve the whole family.

Ideas from Themes Listed Earlier:

Day of the week

Theme

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Monday

Bowl Night

Salmon, quinoa and broccoli bowl with teriyaki sauce

Mediterranean bowl with feta, chicken, black olives, cucumber, onion and brown rice

Korean meatballs with broccoli and rice

Chili night with jalapenos and avocado

Tuesday

Taco Tuesday

Ground turkey tacos with avocado and slaw

Loaded taco soup with tortilla chips

Pulled chicken enchiladas with guacamole

Shrimp tacos with sauteed bell peppers

Wednesday

“Wok” Night

Pad woon Sen with bok choy and mushrooms

Broccoli and beef with rice

Pad Thai with sugar snap peas

Edamame fried rice with egg

Thursday

Sheet Pan Dinner

Chicken sausage, squash and potatoes

Flank steak with bell peppers and guacamole

Leftovers night

Sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts and balsamic marinated chicken

Friday

Pizza Night

Toppings:

Pepperoni with mushrooms and red onions

Toppings:

Goat cheese with red bell peppers

Toppings:

Sausage, grape tomatoes with fresh basil

Toppings:

Porchetta with onions, side Caesar salad

Again, this is a tool that I have found helpful, and it was inspired by one of my clients. Remember, no “perfect” meal planning tool exists. Planning ahead can help alleviate stress and add variety. The themes are not rules and can always be altered as needed. Cooking should be enjoyable, involve the whole family, and provide tasty meals. If you are looking to gain additional cooking skills in 2022, consider joining me in the Simple Tasty Cooking Classes held each month. Find the schedule here or call our office for additional information!

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