Do I have to cook dinner AGAIN? Take the stress out of meal planning
“I need to find a new recipe for eggs,” my husband said recently, after his failed attempt at poaching eggs ended up in the trash. “I’m just tired of cooking the same things.”
My husband is the cook in our household, and he enjoys making big meals to share with family and friends. It’s his way of relieving stress and sharing love without words.
Yet even my kind-hearted husband, who woos me with his cooking, gets sick of having to come up with meal ideas Every. Single. Day. It reminds me of this hilarious and frustrating New Yorker article titled, “The Stress-Free Meal Plan.”
The opening paragraph hits me like a gut punch every time: “I know how hard it can be to provide your family with nutritious dinners that are also tasty, eco-conscious, cookbook-cover-worthy and affordable... That’s why I like to meal-plan – to set myself up for success each week. Disclaimer: Success varies greatly. Typically manifests as failure.”
It's so funny (and sad) because it’s true. Not only are we caregivers supposed to cook healthy, Instagram-friendly (yet screen-free) meals, but also -- according to activists, politicians and celebrities -- we should make sure our food choices are good for the planet. (Oh, and moms, do it all while looking fine in skinny jeans.)
Yes, I am feeling snarky. And admittedly, there’s no denying that the health and sustainability of our food system is vital. It’s a conversation that all of us need to participate in.
However, I want to reassure those of us who do the meal planning - and the grocery shopping and the lunch-box packing – that there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” food choices. Remember, food is neutral.
Also know that Iowa farmers are listening to your concerns. It’s OK to trust Iowa farmers will continue to do the heavy-lifting to make sure that your food is safe, nutritious and sustainably raised. Farmers remain focused on what they do best, so we caregivers have more time to focus on what we need (and want) to do best.
I encourage you to learn more about how Iowa farmers work every day to provide safe, nutritious foods, including real meat, for your family by visiting the “Real Farmers. Real Food. Real Meat.” website.
And for help with meal planning, Iowa State University Extension nutrition experts recommend planning simple meals that include at least three of the four food groups – fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy and protein (real meat is always a nutritious choice.
Check out Iowa State University Extension’s Spend Smart Eat Smart website for easy, nutritious and budget-friendly meal ideas. And for my dear husband, discover new egg recipes at the Incredible Egg website.
By Teresa Bjork. Teresa is Iowa Farm Bureau's Consumer Content Manager.