Hi, I’m Elizabeth from Enjoy Every Bite and I’m excited to be writing this guest post on Garnish & Glaze! I’ve known Melanie since my junior year of college when we worked together as teaching assistants for a nutrition course. We both shared a love for food and nutrition since we both majored in dietetics. It’s been fun keeping in touch as we continue to have similar life situations – husbands in professional school, cute toddlers, and food blogs!
I seriously love browsing food blogs and drooling over the deliciously amazing photography. Looking at recipes online is the easy part, but actually creating a menu that will nourish you and your family is not always so simple. During this time of goal setting, I want to help you feel more confident and capable in your abilities to bring your Pinterest recipes to your kitchen table!
In my opinion, menu planning is key to a healthy lifestyle. No need to count calories or eliminate foods from your diet, all you need to do is have a plan! With a plan you’ll be less likely to pick up fast food on a busy day or graze mindlessly on unhealthy snacks throughout the afternoon. I find that keeping a mental note of my breakfast and lunch choices and having a written out dinner menu keeps me on track.
When making breakfast for myself or my toddler I try to prepare foods that provide fiber, protein, and a healthy fat. For example: oatmeal (fiber) with peanut butter (fat + protein) with milk (protein). A grain-free option would be an egg (protein) with avocado slices (fat) and some berries (fiber). This simple rule of thumb allows for a variety of breakfast ideas that will always leave you feeling satisfied and ready for the day!
My lunch choices will often vary depending on what’s for dinner. If I know that I’m having a grain-based dinner such as pasta then I try to go lighter on the grains. I might have half a sandwich instead of a whole or chicken salad over lettuce. Similarly, if I know that I’m eating out for dinner or having a birthday celebration later then I’ll try to have a smaller lunch to save room my evening meals.
Dinner is where the real planning happens for me. For both health and financial reasons, I try to plan one meal a week that is meatless (Meatless Mondays, anyone?). We usually only have red meat a few times a month. If you’re a red meat lover try to only plan two meals a week that use beef or pork – no need to cut out the red meat completely! I like to plan at least one meal a week that is centered around a vegetable. Some of our favorites include taco salad, spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti noodles, and baked sweet potatoes with chicken.
One of the most important ways to instantly “healthify” your dinner meal is to cut out some of the carbohydrates coming from refined grains. Experiment with whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and quinoa even if your recipes call for the white stuff. Try serving only one grain at dinnertime, and keep your portions to only 1/4 of your plate. Fill up the rest with your delicious protein choice along with a colorful assortment of veggies.
To give you a head start on your meal planning, here are three days of healthy and delicious meals that follow my guidelines:
Breakfast: Blueberry Coconut Oatmeal from Garnish & Glaze
Lunch: Asian Kale Salad from Garnish & Glaze
Dinner: Fettucini with Squash and Cauliflower from Garnish & Glaze
Breakfast: Grain-Free Breakfast Bowls from Enjoy Every Bite
Lunch: Basil & Mozzarella Grilled Cheese from Enjoy Every Bite
Dinner: Farmers’ Market Chicken Skillet from Garnish & Glaze
Breakfast: Baked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cups from Enjoy Every Bite
Lunch: Protein-Packed Curry Chicken Salad from Enjoy Every Bite
Dinner: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Taquitos from Enjoy Every Bite
Do you practice any of these suggestions at home already? What do you find to be helpful when it comes to menu planning for your family?
Great tips, Elizabeth! I esp love that you mention it’s NOT about counting calories and eliminating food groups but eating real foods. I’ve been meal planning for about 2 years now, and although it used to be quite a chore, it def gets easier and effortless over time ;). I LOVE my leftovers, and I think about how I can “transform” them throughout the week to keep things exciting