Monday, May 24, 2010

Menu Planning Tips

After extolling the virtues of menu planning in my earlier post today, I thought it would be good to share some of my tips for designing a weekly menu plan.

We are a family who don't eat a lot of meat. My kids don't really like it that much and I have found that a predominantly vegetarian diet lends itself to greater variety (and is also a lot cheaper, especially when you grow your own vegetables). To ensure we incorporate a range of food in our diet, I use the following guidelines:

  • No more than 2 meals with meat (can be any combination of either fish, chicken or red meat)
  • No more than 1 pasta meal
  • 1-2 rice meals (e.g. risotto, fried rice, side dish, etc.)
  • At least 1 meal with pulses or legumes (e.g. lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
  • No more than 1 egg-based meal (e.g. frittata, omelette, quiche, etc.)
  • No more than 1 bread-based meal (e.g. burger, pizza, burritos, side dish, etc.)
  • No more than 1 pastry meal (e.g. pies, quiches, etc.)

Of course, these categories are not mutually exclusive - for example, a quiche would qualify as both a pastry and egg-based meal, a beef curry served with rice would count towards both the meat and rice meals. I'm not absolutely strict, it really is just meant as a guide.

I have found that by following these guidelines, I am also able to introduce my kids to a wide range of foods. Even at 3 and 4 years of age, they understand that if they choose to be fussy, they will go hungry! It also keeps it more interesting for me, as without these guidelines, I'd probably resort to the easy option of making most of my meals with pasta and/or minced meat!

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