The first step to creating stress-free and money-saving meals is to sit down and plan a food menu. But even if your heart is in the right place, there are a few mistakes that can easily get in your way. Here are a few common food menu mistakes, and how to avoid them:
Forgetting Cooperation – When you first begin putting together your menu plan, don’t forget to ask for input from your family. After all, they will be sitting down at the dinner table, too! You will be surprised at all the wonderful food ideas and inspiration your children or partner comes up with. All menus can benefit from a little collaboration.
Not Being Realistic – We are all guilty of a little wishful thinking, especially when it comes to food. But it’s important to be reasonable when you are planning a menu. Are you really going to take the time to marinate 3 pounds of beef chuck for boeuf bourguignon when you get home from work on a Monday night? Start small, and work up to the more complicated meals or save them for special occasions.
Eschewing Quality or Affordability for Convenience – It is so tempting to buy the prepackaged salad or the prepared chicken breast, especially when you are in a hurry. But you will likely pay for the convenience, financially and nutritionally. If finding time to prepare your foods is an everyday issue, set aside a time to prepare a large quantity to use for the whole week. You can chop vegetables and store in the refrigerator, cook chicken then freeze in meal-sized portions, or prepare marinades or dressings for use throughout the week.
Not Utilizing Leftovers – Wasting food means wasting energy. So when you make good use of your leftovers, you are doing something good for the planet. Plan side dishes that can complement several meals, and always save anything that is leftover to be used again. Leftover meat can become a finger sandwich on tomorrow’s brunch menu, and those extra vegetables might be the perfect base for a hearty stew. And if you are concerned about the safety of your leftovers, just you use a little common sense. The Mayo Clinic says that most leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator safely for four days at a time. Reheat leftovers in the oven or microwave or on the stove until the food’s internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Avoiding these mistakes will save you lots of hassle and frustration. Once you get the hang of meal planning, you can relax and enjoy making dinner for your family.
“How long can you safely keep leftovers in the refrigerator?”, Mayo Clinic
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The Spanish know better than anyone else that if you’re drinking, you should always eat with your beverage. They also know that eating slowly and in smaller portions can help you metabolize your food more efficiently, digest easily, and simply catch up with your friends and family! Tapas are a great way to serve finger food if you’re throwing a dinner party, but they also make a great meal by themselves if you want to have a tapas dinner with the family. You can even give the kids a little Spanish history or geography lesson as you serve different tapas. The best thing about tapas? These dishes are made to be shared, giving us a great opportunity to taste, sample, and pick our favorite of many small, easy dishes, rather than hovering over one, main dish. If you want to have a tapas night, you can easily make a menu that can help you plan out your meal. Try a menu plan that includes tapas like these:
Patatas Bravas: Make some fried potato chunks for your own version of patatas bravas. Usually spiced with paprika and served with aioli sauce and ketchup on the side, patatas bravas go well with just about anything and are extremely inexpensive to make.
Tortilla Espanola: Unlike the tortilla we’re used to in the states, the tortilla espanola is made out of potatoes and egg, for a quiche-like dish. Cut the tortilla into slivers or cubes and serve as a tapa. If you have leftovers, serve tortilla espanola as a wonderful breakfast treat. This tortilla keeps extremely well and tastes even better the next day.
Croquettes: Cheese. Ham. Fried. These three factors combined give you a wonderful tapa: the croquette. You can make your croquette however you please, but we like ‘em with russet potatoes, ham, and, of course, breadcrumbs for adequate frying.
Anchovies: Served on top of broiled and crunchy slices of baguettes and drizzled with olive oil, anchovies are extremely common in Spain. While some people hate them, this tapa may just change their minds about anchovies.
Cheese and Olives: For a foolproof tapa, serve sliced cheeses, like Machego or Idiazabal cheese. You can also serve a bowl of Spanish olives for another no-brainer tapa.
Chorizo or Jamon Serrano: Sliced meat, much like sliced cheese, makes a wonderfully filling and extremely easy tapa. Sliced chorizo, a spicier Spanish sausage, or jamon serrano, a Spanish ham, could be perfect for the occasion. Slice a baguette and serve it along with your tapas so that your family can make mini sandwiches with jamon serrano and machego cheese, if they please.
With a great tapas meal, you will be surprised at how much family bonding you can do over the right menu plan. Just make sure to plan in advance and find tapas that your family will love, and you’ll surely have a night to remember.
If you’re just embarking on your diet, you may find it difficult to stick to your calorie limitations and avoid that chocolate cupcake. Instead of clutching your tummy with hunger, why not curb your appetite a bit? And no, we don’t mean by taking crazy diet pills. There are items that you can find at your grocery store that naturally suppress appetite. Next time you’re planning your diet menu plan, use these natural suppressants.
Salads before lunch and dinner: If you want to avoid overeating, try eating a small salad before a meal. The fiber helps slow the entrance of glucose into the bloodstream, making you less likely to be hungry. According to one study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, when 42 women ate a simple 100-calorie salad before dinner, they consumed 12 percent less calories during the meal, even without trying to diet or limit their intake.
Tea: Certain teas, like yerba mate and green tea are widely known to be appetite suppressants. They are also beneficial to digestion and they reduce thirst. If you’re still hungry after a meal, just drink a cup of green tea, instead and you’ll feel just as satisfied.
Soups: Another meal for your diet menu plan is soup. Weight loss and appetite control is all about staying hydrated, and soup helps us do just that. In fact, Research at Pennsylvania State University shows that men and women consuming two servings of low-calorie soup daily lost a whopping 50% more weight than those consuming the exact same number of calories with snack foods. Of course, favor lighter soups, like chicken noodle or miso soup, over their creamier counterparts, like clam chowder or cream of mushroom soup.
Powders: Protein takes longer for the body to break down, so it naturally keeps us fuller for longer. Try putting protein powder, like whey protein, in a breakfast shake to keep you full until lunchtime.
Apples: If you need something sweet on your diet menu plan, try having baked cinnamon apple slices. This high-fiber food will require extra chewing time, signifying to your brain that you’re full sooner than with other foods. The fiber will also help you stay full for longer, much like salads.
Flaxseeds: Toss flaxseeds in salads, throw them in smoothies, or sprinkle them over veggies for a filling addition. Flaxseeds keep us full because they have plenty of fiber. In addition they have omega-3 acids and treat many ailments, including ADHD, bladder infections, and high cholesterol.
Next time you’re planning out your menu for weight loss, implement these foods into your menu to suppress your appetite and help you lose weight without feeling hungry. Stay hydrated, eat your veggies, and keep these appetite suppressants in mind and you’ll be slim and trim in no time.