The age old question…. what’s for dinner?
In the last 14 years as a Registered Dietitian, I have noticed that the one meal a day people struggle with the most is dinner.
Here are some of the common reasons people give me for not eating dinner at home
– no time
– rushing around with work and kids
– don’t want to just cook for 1 or 2 people
– don’t know how to cook
– too many picky eaters at home… and many more.
But the fact is, it is MUCH LESS expensive and MORE healthy to eat at home than anywhere else. If you sit down once a week and plan your dinner meals you are more likely to stick to your menu, decreasing any chance of you ordering last-minute take out food.
Not only is it less expensive to eat at home but it also has some other great benefits as well!
– You consume less sodium, fat, sugar and overall calories when eating at home.
– Family dinners are more important than play, story time and other family events in the development of vocabulary of younger children.
– Frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs in preteens and teens ages 11 to 18.
– Adolescent girls who have frequent family meals and a positive atmosphere during those meals are less likely to develop eating disorders.
– Children who eat most often with their parents are 40 percent more likely to say they get mainly As and Bs in school than children who have two or fewer family dinners a week.
– Dinner with family can be a stress reliever. Believe it or not, if you have a demanding job, finding time to eat with your family may actually leave you feeling less stressed.
Tips for dinner meal planning:
- Sit down once a week with your calendar to see what nights you will be at home to make dinner and what evenings you need to have something quick and easy to go (grilled chicken wraps with fruit)!
- Shop the sale ads on the weekends to plan which protein’s you will have that week with dinner.
- Start with your protein first, then figure out your sides (add a whole grain starch and some veggies to each dinner).
Pasta with Zucchini and Roasted Garlic
• 1 pound Rotini, Twists or Spirals, uncooked, whole grain
• 8 medium cloves garlic, peeled
• 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
• 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
• 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
• 3 medium zucchini, coarsely grated (about 5-6 cups)
1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 450. Place your garlic on a 12-inch square piece of foil on the counter. Sprinkle with thyme and rosemary. Pour the oil over the garlic and herbs. Draw up the edges of the foil and make a sealed packet. Bake 20 minutes.
2. While the garlic is baking, cook pasta according to package directions. Two minutes before pasta is done, add the zucchini to the pasta cooking water. Cook two minutes. Drain zucchini and pasta.
3. Open the foil and mash the garlic lightly with a spoon. Toss with the pasta and zucchini, season with salt and pepper and serve.
Sides: Serve with a side salad and whole-wheat dinner roll.
Kelly Devine Rickert MS RDN LDN
Registered Dietitian/Wellness Coordinator