Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Meal Planning 3

Ok. Step 3. Side Dishes...

Believe it or don't, I don't do sides in the traditional sense. Rice, mashed potatoes, quinoa, bread - basically starch. Then an additional side dish that includes veg. That is seriously SO MUCH FOOD!! Growing up I was taught that you are supposed to eat a protein, a starch and a veg at every meal. I think that was pretty typical thinking of my parents generation. Another thing that I was taught was to "clean my plate" something that I agree with - but with fewer options on the plate and smaller portions. Lastly, I'm a BIG BELIEVER in the "no thank you bite." Growing up, it was "you eat what is on your plate - period." "There are people starving in the world - we don't want to waste food." Gosh that makes my parents sound so mean - but they weren't mean at all. As I said - I think that was the norm.

My approach to side dishes is this: Make your side dishes count. This is your opportunity to expand your family's palette and to pack in some serious nutrition and vitamins into the people you love the most. We started the "No Thank You Bite" with our kids (now 9, 7, 4 and 7mo) several years ago. The "No Thank You Bite" allows for you to introduce new foods to your kids (which in my case, usually is a 'side dish') without the whining, complaining, anxiety that kids feel when faced with a new, unusual looking pile of veg on their plate. I ask my kids to "take one bite. If you don't like it that's fine - you don't need to eat anymore" but I know that more likely than not, they will like what I've made.

I have deliberately raised my kids eating veg since they were babies. In fact, today I was looking for some baby finger food snacks for my 7 mo old. Flavors like cinnamon sugar & maple syrup stocked the shelves - products that I've never bought and will never buy. I honestly believe that the sooner you introduce sugar (and fat for that matter) in your kids diet - the pickier the eater you will have and they will be less likely to enjoy raw or unprocessed foods.

So. I serve dinner in one of two ways. I serve a "complete meal" i.e. Baked Pasta with Sausage that has protein, starch, dairy and veg without a side. OR, I serve a "main dish" which usually revolves around protein with a veg on the side. Of course, there are exceptions like holidays where the side dishes often outshine the main event - but for the day to day - veg it is...

TODAY, you need to categorize your regular side dishes. Again, ask your kids and hubs what they like. Think about veg or fruit that is easy to prepare - you want to spend most of your time preparing the main dish. Your side dish should be a quick prep and uncomplicated.

Here is the list I came up with to start. Again, I'm not going to print or laminate this, as I get into actually putting things into motion, I know that I'll end up making tweaks and changes to this list. Also, the season, holidays, etc. will affect this list as well. We're just getting going:)


Cafe Rio Black Beans

Homestyle Baked Beans

Corn on the Cobb

Grilled asparagus

Roasted Butternut Squash

Roasted Carrots

Country Corn

Roasted Beets

Black Bean Salad

Sweet Jasmine Rice

Broccoli Salad

Steamed Broccoli w Cheese sauce

Sauteed Mushrooms & Onions

Sauteed Peppers & Onions

Evans Broccoli Salad

Chilled Pineapple

Chilled Mandarin Oranges


Cucumbers and Carrots with Ranch


One last tip. Eat seasonally. It will save you money and you will enjoy the fruit and veg SO MUCH MORE!

Now go young padawan - just think of all the shoes you can buy yourself with all the money you are going to save!! Ha - my husband would get a kick out of that one - we all know that as Mother's the very last thing we spend money on is ourselves:)

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