Chronic Illness and Dinner Time Blues: Fast Healthy Dinner Plans

So, your mother tells you that your family is eating out too much and your kids will never know a home-cooked meal. And you have to admit that the cost of eating out is starting to make you a bit sick to your stomach, but not enough to get rid of those few extra pounds you've been putting on. With your busy schedule, however, and limited energy, where exactly can you find the best meal planning strategy that will succeed for your family? If you're you are someone who checks with an online search engine about how to plan a spaghetti dinner, you may just need some tips.

Here are five suggestions to get you started:

1. Agree to try exchanging meals with one or two families a couple times a week and give it a trial run for a month or two. It's easy to double your batch of your signature lemon chicken dish one night, and know that you will receive back a prepared meal another evening. To simplify exchanging meals, split the cost in advance of inexpensive disposable containers and lids that can be swapped between homes.

2. Recreate your favorite restaurant recipes. Search for "copy cat recipes" and soon you will be baking up a batch of Red Lobster's garlic cheese biscuits and a Bloomin' Onion. Just search online for the words "copy cat recipes" or "top secret recipes." Your family will quickly be saying they want to stay home and eat from your kitchen, which is a step toward creating healthy meal plans for teens who don't want to make time for a family dinner any more.

3. Check out a new trend: preparing a meal somewhere other than your home, such as using a meal preparation service. For example, Dream Dinners is in 37 states and boasts that though the price per meal may be a bit more than if you prepared it in your own kitchen, it's significantly less than eating out. It provides fast healthy dinner plans. And the meals are much more nutritious. For a set price, you can choose from a wide variety of meals, considering your family's likes, dislikes, eating restrictions, and budget. Then you just go in and prepare the meals right there, package them up, and bring them home to your freezer. You'll also pick up some great cooking creativity tips and confidence for future meals at home.

4. Avoid the temptation purchase entire meals of take-out. Instead, mix part of a meal from your favorite restaurant with a partially prepared meal at home. For example, it simple and inexpensive to make a large Greek salad with tossed with dressing, olives and feta cheese. Then order a large side order of Gyro meat from your local Greek restaurant. You'll get more value for your money and also have a fresh meal of something you typically would not make at home.

5. Few people actually desire to sit down and come up with a meal planning system that works for them, but when they do, they often wonder how they lived without it. Don't copy other's ideas, but come up with whatever works best with your schedule and available energy. Perhaps it's easy to make a double batch of that tortilla soup and freeze half for another meal. There are a few dinner menu planning software systems. Or design a blank print out of a weekly meal plan. Try breaking down the dinners by style of foods. For example, plan six night's meals as: one - beef; one - salad; one - sandwich; one - poultry; and two - fish.

The last step is to start flipping through magazines, dusting off those old cookbooks, and taking a poll of your family member's favorite meals. Then start your planning and grocery list. Within just a few days you will likely have at least twenty recipes and that can get you through about six weeks of meals. And forgo taking all the responsibility for meals. Make everyone get involved by making the kids responsible for one meal a week; bribe your spouse to accompany you to a Dream Dinner style meal preparation jaunt. In no time your dinner blues will disappear and leave you with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment . . . and relief!

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About The Author, Lisa Copen..
Instant download of 200 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend from "Beyond Casseroles" by Lisa Copen when you subscribe to HopeNotes invisible illness ezine at Rest Ministries. Lisa is the coordinator of Invisible Illness Awareness