Meal planning is an endless pursuit. A mother cannot "wing it" if she wants to provide consistently healthy meals for her family. I'm all for "winging it" at times, but those meals are exceptions. I encourage you to plans meals and stick to your plan. Being deliberate is the best way to consistently nourish our families.
I'd like to share a few thoughts about meal planning today. When I start to think up a meal, I begin with a high quality protein. Our children's growing bodies need lots of good protein (and we adults do too!). Protein does not always have to be meat, but each meal must have a combination of animal and vegetable proteins so that our children consume sufficient "growing material." In our house, we eat meat, poultry or fish about three or four days a week. The other days are vegetarian proteins.
Once I have selected a protein, I choose vegetables. Usually, this choice is easy for me since I have to use things from my produce box before they spoil. I can't skip the veggies. But, even if you don't have your vegetables selected for you, take the time to plan for a variety of vegetables and colors. The more the better!
With protein and vegetables selected, I usually add a "Frugal Meal Extender." Are your kids perpetually hungry? Mine are! Spiderman will ask for more food before he is finished with what he has! Active kids have huge caloric needs. After I provide for their protein, vitamin and mineral content, I look for cheap, but healthy, filler food. In our family, this could be brown rice, potatoes or homemade breads. I do try to make this additional part of our meal wheat-free since we usually eat wheat at lunch.
All things considered, these "Frugal Meal Extenders" are most often starches. While some adults with weight loss intentions may be avoiding starches, they are an important part of a growing child's diet... as long as they are not refined starches. Conveniently, these fillers are the most frugal part of our diet. Without rice and potatoes, I don't think we would be able to keep our children satisfied within our budget!
I would love to hear your ideas for "Frugal Meal Extenders." Please comment to share with all of us!
Also, if you read my posts in a feed, you may be missing my "What's Cooking" sidebar. Monday through Friday, I post what I'm cooking for supper... and sometimes extras. I also keep an archive under the "What's Cooking" label. This may give you ideas for your meal planning.
Photo Credit: Allposters.com