I often get requests to help people plan meals, which is something most people dread. The difficult part for most is making a list of recipes and finding the time to get to the grocery store. For me, the tricky part is finding or developing recipes that most people would enjoy eating. We all come from various socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. What tastes good to me, may be repulsive to you! Ideally, you should look forward to eating, not dread it. Here are a few basics with meal planning.
1. Eat food you like. If you need more potassium in your diet, but hate bananas, don’t eat them! There are enough other choices to include that you will enjoy eating. Most dark orange fruit (peaches, melon, citrus fruit) and dark green/leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach) provide ample potassium.
2. Think about your lifestyle and cooking habits. Are you an adventurous chef or do you just need some quick meals to get you through the week. Don’t put more pressure on yourself to be gourmet if you aren’t.
3. Keep some basics on hand like eggs, beans, olive or canola oil, brown rice, quinoa, chicken breasts, whole wheat tortillas, multi-grain pasta, lentils, frozen fish, canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables, onions, potatoes, shredded cheese and whole grain bread. You’d be surprised what you can make with a few staple ingredients.
4. Explore new ways to season food using ginger paste, minced garlic, cumin, oregano, turmeric, lemon grass, pesto, chili garlic paste, low sodium soy sauce, cinnamon and other spices. Simple spices can completely change the taste of boring vegetables.
5. Use your leftovers. I like to bake a whole chicken on Sunday, then use the leftovers in tacos, pasta or quinoa with veggies, chicken salad or other dishes. This reduces food waste, but keeps the recipes interesting.