Whether you are meal planning for your family or a group of people, chances are you are going to have to prepare for different preferences, tolerances or lifestyles. This can be a challenge, but not impossible! Here are a few tips.
- Find common ground. Find an aspect of the meal that will work for everyone. It may be your vegetable or protein choice. Start from there and plan accompaniments. For instance, if everyone you are feeding will eat chicken but not necessarily in a mixed dish or with a sauce, serve the chicken on its own and allow each person to add preferred foods along side it.
- Work with different textures, temperatures and tastes (flavourings). Often what one person loves about a particular food can be what another person dislikes about the same food. For example, some people prefer cooked vegetables, while others would rather have raw veggies. This is particularly true for kids. Plan to serve a combination of cooked and raw veggies based upon the people coming to the table.
- Ask for input. Family meal planning can really help take the struggle out of meal preparation. The more involved people are in making the choices, the more likely you are to have success. This is also true if you happen to be meal planning for a group of roommates or friends.
- Allow everyone to serve themselves. Choosing what they want from the foods served and in what quantities takes some of the pressure off everyone.
- Keep it simple. Sometimes we make meal planning more complicated than it needs to be. Meal planning and healthy choices don’t need to be complicated. Sometimes we just need to think of food as fuel and ensure there is a protein, grain/starch and vegetable option for each meal. How each of these choices look will depend on what works in each situation.
Tacos: your protein choice could be meat or beans…or both! You can offer crunchy taco shells along side soft tacos, and assorted sautéed vegetables with crispy fresh vegetables; as well as an assortment of cheeses.
Rice or noodle bowls: your protein choice could be meat or edamame beans…or both! You can offer cooked white/brown rice or wheat or rice pastas, and an assortment of sautéed and fresh vegetables; add some topping options like sesame seeds, nuts, crispy noodles.
Tapas: serve a variety of smaller ‘appetizer’ type food options. Try Crab and Cauliflower Cakes or Zucchini and Chickpea Frittersalong with veggies and dip, and potato wedges. Make chicken/beef/pork satays along with sautéed snap peas and a pasta salad. Serve up Southwest Egg Muffins with veggie kebabs and whole grain pitas with tzatziki.