Category Archives: meal planning

Assemble a Family Dinner For Under $10? Yes. And Here Are 5 Suggestions To Make It Healthier

Winter squash is easy to prepare and a good source of vitamins A and K

Winter squash is budget-friendly in season, easy to prepare and a good source of vitamins A and K

by donR May 5, 2016

Cooking wholesome meals on a limited budget can be challenging.  By “wholesome” we mean the meal satisfies the nutritional needs of family members. The $10 meal price is calculated by keeping  the cost of the main ingredients under $8 and simply add $2 for the pantry items like flour, condiments, planned-overs, and spices.

So, if at the end of the month, you have spent, on average, $10 per main meal and have eaten a rainbow of whole foods, you deserve a “Gold Star” and are welcome to share your ideas with the rest of our audience! Continue reading

Wonderful Winter Squash: Tips and Tricks From A Master Gardener

Winter squash is easy to prepare and a good source of vitamins A and K

Winter squash is easy to prepare and a good source of vitamins A and K

by donR November 6, 2015

Winter squash comes in different sizes, shapes, and colors and they all contain important micro-nutrients.  When I told Gloria Perez that “Winter Squash” was my topic for a presentation at the Senior Center, she said “Wonderful.” She is the master gardener for the Ferndale Friendship Community Garden in Ferndale, Washington and she then began to tell how easy and important it is to include squash in a family meal plan. Here are five of the many ‘tips and tricks’ she shared: Continue reading

Green Salad In Your Meal Plan: 10 Final Thoughts

Green salads contain many micronutrients. Add whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds for even more variety.

Green salads contain many micro-nutrients. Add whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds variety.

by  donR  October 6, 2015

Should you include green salads every day in your meal plan? It depends on what you and your needs for optimal body function. Dark green leafy green salads are rich in vitamins and minerals, some of which can be toxic  or interfere with medicines if you eat too much. It also depends on whether the dressing contains oil or water needed for digestion. EEEK!, it’s complicated. But, here are some general guidelines for you and your family to consider: Continue reading

Dining Out Do’s and Don’ts

by donR  July 21, 2015

Cooking Light suggests choosing grilles, baked or streamed menu items when dining out.

Cooking Light suggests choosing grilled, baked or streamed menu items when dining out.

It’s summertime and everyone is on-the-go; county fairs, vacations or just going to the park. If you plan on dining out or getting take-out food from a deli, here are some do’s and don’t s  to think about such as Cooking Light’s ratings of popular fast food restaurants. Continue reading

Another $10 Meal: Soba Noodles-the Other Pasta

Fresh Soba noodles are mede from buckwheat; thick, nutty, and comforting.

Fresh Soba noodles are made from buckwheat; thick, nutty, and comforting.

Pasta is a popular choice for Springtime meals; light, spicy, easy to prepare and nutritious if you choose healthier ingredients. We described how to prepare Perfect Pasta in our basic cooking series and today I had a craving for a pasta dinner.  But, to take advantage of the “Hot Sheet Sale” at Cash & Carry, I purchased a 5# bag of fresh Yakisoba noodles ($3.24) along with a 5# bag of shredded cabbage ($2.98), 25# zucchini squash ($14.49) and 14# pk of pork shoulder cushions ($1.15 per pound).

I know…$36.81 is more than the “$10 Meal” in the title but let me share a few of the many meals that can be prepared with these ingredients…see the rest of the story. Continue reading

Why An Unbalanced Meal Plan Can Be A Balanced Plan.

by donR  5 16 2015

Our bodies are designed to stay balanced if...

Our bodies are designed to stay balanced if…

Okay, we all know by now that we should eat a balanced meal. The USDA Choose My Plate movement is based on this idea. But what does the word “balanced” mean? To answer this, think about how a playground teeter totter works. To stay balanced all you need to do is have the same weight on each side.  And if you have unequal weights, you simply adjust one or both of them to achieve balance.  Our bodies, likewise, are designed to adjust itself to stay in a balanced state but this is not always a simple task. Continue reading

Eating On The Run: Choose Buffet Food Wisely

Buffet food: delicious, variety, easy to eat more than necessary.

Buffet food: delicious, variety, easy to eat more than necessary.

by donR  15/11/2015

During lunch breaks are you  tempted to line up for a buffet-style  lunch. I certainly  am. Last month I stood in the buffet line at two grocery delis, the hospital and for a casino luncheon. With so many scrumptious food choices, it is easy to eat too much. To make matters worse, it’s almost impossible to resist the “White stuff?”  (sugar and bleached flour in the  entrees and trans-fats in the desserts). You are left with three choices:

  • Splurge and enjoy  the moment
  • Avoid going to food buffets in the first place
  • Adopt some of the following strategies to eat well when going through a buffet line or eating at the family dinner table.

The real issue with buffets or a dinner table loaded with bowls of food is our “see food diet.” With food sitting right in front of our eyes, it’s easy to grab too much. I ate too much food during my last visit to the Casino buffet and made a plan for the next time I go. Here is my plan:

  1. I’ll walk around to see what is being served.
  2. The next step is to return to the table with some herb tea or glass of water. Then relax and think about what I really need to eat.
  3. Now it’s time to hit the salad bar for leafy greens, veggies and a lite dressing like vinaigrette. I’ll add some fruit and oriental salad for a different flavor and texture.
  4. If there is a light soup available, I’ll go for it along with a small whole wheat bun and butter.
  5. For entrees, I’ll go back to the salad bar…and get a small plate. Choose roasted or steamed entrees and sides like turkey, white fish, baron of beef, cabbage rolls and veggies along with brown rice if available.
  6. buffet pastryNow am I too full for the dessert bar? No…I’ll save some room to indulge myself. How about gluten-free cakes & cookies loaded with sweeteners? Cake or pie with ice cream? Sugar- free tart with whipped cream? Maybe, but I’ll probably go back to the salad bar for refreshing coleslaw or cottage cheese & peaches. If I opt for the desserts, I’ll work out an extra 10 minutes…maybe.

You may have a different idea for approaching a buffet line or setting up the dinner table but this is the mental game I’ll play in order to keep from gorging myself. 

If you want other ideas visit 10 Tricks and Tips from the USDA Choose My Plate program  that may help to discourage over-eating.

I am researching about why we have cravings and tend to overeat. Is it a hormone imbalance, genetics, or caused by emotions? That’s a subject for another post.

A Well-Stocked Pantry: Final Thoughts

Smiling at a pantry full of fruit and veggies for snacks. Priceless!

Smiling at a fridge full of fruit and veggies for snacks. Priceless! iclipart photo

By donR 3/31/15

Okay, every pantry will be different. And when I say pantry I’m talking about cupboards, refrigerator, freezer, back room, or any place where you store food.  In parts one through four we have shared some ideas on stocking ingredients for healthy salads, soups, vegetables and sauces. Today, I will give you our final list of what we keep in our pantry for baking, desserts,and a few odds & ends. Of course yours will look different but here are 10 general guidelines for you to consider. Continue reading

A Well-Stocked Pantry: Part 4

This enchilada sauce recipe can be split with about 1 pint frozen for a later meal.

This enchilada sauce recipe can be split with about 1 pint frozen for a later meal.

By donR  3/26/15

Stocking your pantry with healthy condiments, sauces, dressings and marinades is difficult if you buy them off the local grocer’s shelf. Processed flavorings, whether in packets, cans or bottles, are expensive and often packed with salt, hidden sweeteners and preservatives. But plain pasta, rice and white fish would certainly be boring with no flavorings.

NOT TO WORRY! We found a way for you to add quality, low-fat, natural flavorings to your cupboard and refrigerator in a budget-friendly way. Read about 17 flavorings you can use. Continue reading

A Well-Stocked Pantry; Part 3

Does your family meal plan include enough vegetables and fruit?

Does your family meal plan include enough vegetables and fruit?

The USDA recommends that 50% of our dinner plate be filled with vegetables and fruit. But can you guess what percentage of the average grocery bill goes towards fruit and veggies?  Americans spend only about 14% according to a Huffington Post Article.  In this third part of the “Stocking Your Pantry” series, we’ll give you some ideas about what veggies to always have in your pantry (food storage areas). Continue reading