What’s for dinner?

24 Sep

“What’s for dinner?”  What feeling does that phrase evoke?  For me, it is pleasure.  For my friend Beth, it is a totally annoying phrase.  She can’t stand it.  To some, the thought of getting a meal ready is like getting ready to pull out the watercolors and canvas for a relaxing afternoon of creating.  To others, the thought of meal planning produces anxiety.  Let’s face it, some people just avoid this all together.  Well pull it together sister, and let’s turn that anxiety to pleasure!

First, start thinking about what you like to eat.  Is it chicken?  We can do that a million ways.  Here we go.  Start with a simple marinade and some chicken.  My local grocer has packages of a whole chicken cut up, legs, breasts, and pick of the chicken.  Get a package of whatever sounds good.  And grab some gallon size zip top bags when you grab the chicken.

Next, think of flavors that you and your family lean toward.  Teriyaki flavors?  Italian seasonings?  Salsa? BBQ sauce?  You can go super easy, like getting italian dressing to use as a marinade.  Put the chicken into a gallon size zip top bag, add your flavorings, and let it sit for a couple of minutes before cooking.  Or brush your flavoring on while the meat is cooking.  Its up to you.  There are many varieties of liquid marinades. Have some fun choosing a good flavor.  That will do for the protein.  Onto the vegetables.

Frozen vegetables are a good, inexpensive and have  good nutritional value.  And they are very quick and easy to prepare.  Get some vegetables that you and your family will enjoy, and don’t bother getting any that already have a sauce with it.  That pretty much just adds fat.  Get a single vegetable or a mix.  My family happens to love haricots vert, which are thin french green beans.  I usually keep a couple of bags in the freezer.  Frozen vegetables take only a couple of minutes to microwave and are delicious.  When they are cooked, sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  If you made broccoli, toss a little cheese on it too.  Next we add the grain.

Grains are important in our diet for many reasons.  Grains add beneficial minerals and fiber to the diet.  The US Department of Agriculture recommends that at least half of the grains in our diet are whole grains. An example of a good whole grain is brown rice, and if you get the quick cook variety, you can easily include it in your meal even when you are short on time.  And with a little seasoning, it can be tasty and ready in no time.

I try to balance my meals with fruit on the table as well.  Protein, vegetable, fruit and whole grains…that is a well balanced meal, and everyone in the family should participate in getting it on the table.  Meals is a time for socializing, catching up, and enjoying family time.  And a time for shared responsibility!  So when you hear “What’s for dinner?”, delegate, enjoy, and share the time.  And above all, remember the words of the great Julia Child:

“Learn to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

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