What’s for dinner? Those three dreaded words can wreak havoc on a calm day. The answer depends on available ingredients, pickiness of eaters and available prep time. Luckily, planning can take the stress off!
Planning a week or a month of food can be a great time-saver, not to mention a financial saver at the grocery store. Coming up with a system that works for you, your family and your budget is better done in advance.
If you think about the foods and flavors that are most popular to those you are feeding, you can start putting together a system for choosing foods. For a monthly system, consider creating themes around the days of the week.
Monday: Meatless Monday — a great way to bring more vegetables to the dinner table. Explore authentic spices from around the world and new plant-based groceries. Items like tempeh, legumes, yucca, jicama, kimchi, sprouts and jackfruit are great options that can bring great textures and flavors to your Monday menu.
Tuesday: Let’s taco ‘bout Taco Tuesday! Seriously, who doesn’t love a great taco? Whether you use fish, chicken, beef, beans, stir-fried veggies or other fun fillers, tacos win all the time!
Wednesday: Wind Up Wednesday! Take to twirling that spaghetti around your fork while you look at your beautiful Shrimp Piccata — or your family across from you! Wednesday can incorporate your Mediterranean fix. You may be going with Greek-inspired kabobs, Spanish Paella or Italian Puttanesca. Whatever the case, you can’t go wrong!
Thursday: Anything Goes Thursday! Are you looking to bring inspired authentic dishes from Africa, Ireland or Thailand? Maybe you are looking for a good old Midwest meat and potatoes kind of night. Let your taste buds be your guide to fun flavors, known and new!
Friday: Fish Friday! Fish are high in omega-3, which is great for growing brainpower and muscle, reducing inflammation and adding a lean protein for all-around great health. There are so many fish in the sea — experiment with mussels, sole, ahi tuna, crab legs, salmon or even octopus! The textures and variations of flavors bring everyone to the table for a delicious and healthy meal!
Saturday: Salad Saturday! Salads do not have to be boring with bland ingredients and a splash of dressing. You can incorporate roasted nuts, fancy cheeses, sweet fruits, grilled veggies, bright citrus dressings and proteins that range from grains to surf and turf! Think of the things you love, flavors that remind you of summer or a picnic on the beach, throw them on a bed of mixed greens and bask in the flavors!
Sunday: Take to the Streets Sunday! Austin has some of the most amazing and healthy restaurants. Stop by a farmers market, food truck park or any farm-to-table options to support local chefs and farmers alike!
Now that you have a plan, it’s time to get to work implementing your new culinary adventure. On Sunday, after taking to the Austin streets and being inspired, make a list of dishes you plan to make for the week. Check your recipes for serving sizes, prep time and cooking time. If the recipes fit your skill level and time availability, evaluate your fridge and pantry. Make a list of grocery store items, farmers market items and specialty items that you need. Once everything is purchased, sort your items by dinner and days. Freeze items you want fresh later in the week. Then, prep any items you can in advance. This may include cutting veggies and chilling them in water, marinating proteins, roasting nuts or creating your own mixed seasonings.
If you are stuck in a rut of continually making the same dishes, this is your new freedom! No more last-minute dinners thrown in a pan that lack flavor or imagination. No more fast food stops because there is nothing in the fridge. You finally have the answer to the time-old question: “What’s for Dinner?” and it’s a great answer!
About the Author
Coach Kati Epps is the founder of MyBody GX with a background in chemistry from Colorado State University, an ACE certified personal trainer, health coach and nutrition specialist.