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5 Ways to Create Fast Healthy Dinner Plans When You're Exhausted

Aug 21, 2008
So, you know you're eating out too much, you've added a few pounds, and the cost is starting to get out of hand. But with your busy schedule and limited energy, where do you start to find the right meal planning idea that will work for your family? Are you one of the people who check with a search engine online about how to plan a spaghetti dinner?

Here are five suggestions to get you started:

1. Try a weekly meal exchange with another family in your neighborhood, giving it a trial run for a couple of months. In no time you will see the savings of time and energy, as you just have to make a double batch of your favorite lasagna, and feel the relief that you will receive a meal back another night. Before starting, split the expense of a set of disposable containers and lids that can be traded between the homes.

2. If you are tempted to go out to eat, but it's not in the budget right now, you can cook your favorite Red Lobster's garlic cheese biscuits or Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole. Just do an online search for words such as "copy cat recipes" or "top secret recipes." Before long your kitchen will start smelling like you work at the Olive Garden. This is a great way to create healthy meal plans for teens that don't want to join you for dinner any longer.

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. Don't be tempted to buy entire meals of take-out, but rather mix up a large meal from your favorite restaurant with partially prepared meals at home. For example, it's inexpensive to prepare a huge Greek salad with dressing, olives and feta cheese. Then stop by your local Greek restaurant and order a large side order of Gyro meat. You'll get more for your money and also feel like you're treating yourself to something that is hard to prepare at home.

5. Get organized with meal planning by deciding what works best for your schedule. Can you make a double batch of meat loaf and freeze half for another evening? Online you can find various dinner menu planning software systems. Or find a blank print out of a weekly meal plan. Does it help to break down the dinners by style of foods? For example, plan six night's meals as: two - fish; one - poultry; one - beef; one - salad; one - sandwich.

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!
About the Author
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 founder of Invisible Illness Awareness
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