planning your dinner menus through the week  

Considering the busy schedules that most families have (work, sports, and school activities), planning a nourishing dinner that everyone can enjoy together may be a challenge, but it is important to gather the family together for a meal once a day. Make dinner, or any meal, a celebration (even with the simplest dishes) and a daily ritual where the family gets together to talk, relax, and enjoy food as well as one another’s company. Here are some other strategies I use when planning the menu through the week:
OVER THE WEEKEND Use the weekend to shop and to plan meals (or at least the entrées) for the week. Use the time to prepare dishes that can be eaten during the week or frozen for future meals.
STOCK UP Keep your pantry well stocked (see “Basic Staples”) so that you can grab major ingredients (rice, pasta, etc.), herbs, and condiments easily.
PLAN AHEAD Plan a substantial meal on weekends or at the beginning of the week so that you can use leftovers (grilled meat or seafood or cooked vegetables) for other dinners and lunches. Vary the menu for the leftover meals by serving different vegetables or side staple dishes to keep things interesting.

« For instance:
Sunday Dinner:
Jesse’s Spicy Grilled Chicken Breasts (make extra for leftovers)
Warm Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad or Spicy Garlic Soba with Mushrooms and Greens
Seasonal fruit, or see “Light and Sumptuous Sweets” chapter
Monday Lunch
Soothing Miso Soup with tofu and leftover stir-fried spinach
Monday Dinner (made with leftover grilled chicken)
Chicken Lo Mein with Garlic Chives and Bean Sprouts
Chicken and Black Bean Salad with a Spicy Tomato Salsa
Seasonal fruit, or see “Light and Sumptuous Sweets” chapter
Tuesday Dinner
Middle Eastern Herbal Rice stir-fried with chicken, roasted vegetables, and snap peas (made with leftover vegetables, grilled chicken)
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES Prepare different fruits and vegetables to make your dinner plate as colorful as possible. Fill two-thirds of your plate with fruits and vegetables and reduce the meat or seafood portion to 3 to 6 ounces. (See David Heber’s suggestions.)
CHILDREN If your children won’t eat vegetables, substitute different types of fruit. Encourage them to drink natural fruit juices such as orange juice, cider, etc. (For other suggestions on getting children to eat well, see the section on Lilian Cheung and “Eat Well and Keep Moving.”)
EXAMPLE Set a good example for your children by eating properly and enjoying food. Teach children about the importance of eating good food so that their bodies will operate at peak performance. (This is a persuasive line of reasoning that I use with my teenage son, who is an avid athlete.)
TOGETHER Involve your family in the process of planning meals, shopping (especially at farmers’ markets), and cooking food.