Some people are visual learners. You can talk to them all day and they’ll listen, but they won’t understand until you show them a picture.
This concept hit me last week while Mr. Crumbs and I were setting the table for taco night. I had cut up one chicken breast and one chicken tender for dinner and knew it would be sufficient for our family. I took it to the table along with the various salsas and taco bar toppings and before long, the table was filled with bowls, plates, pots and jars. Despite having so little meat [at least compared to the Standard American Diet (SAD)], our table felt filled. Here’s what we saw:
From the top there is mango salsa, fresh salsa, salsa verde, coconut rice, sautéed onions and red bell peppers, chicken, homemade corn tortillas, pico de gallo with a bowl of fresh cilantro in the center.
Meal Planning Problem #6: Viewing Meat Differently
Taking a different viewpoint of meat was the first way to afford meat when we talked about that issue earlier this year, but it wasn’t until I saw our table that I realized how difficult this may be for some families. We’re just SO used to having our meals centered around meat that we’re clueless otherwise.
It may be easier to take a vegetarian-centered approach instead. Plan your vegetables and whole grains and see if meat fits in there (which I’m sure you can find a way to make it fit 😉 ). The meat should be viewed as a side dish, not the big grandiose cut of meat we all envision when we think of Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. In addition, serve the meat shredded or diced to stretch it even more.
When we make tacos with all those options to choose from, we hardly use any chicken. If we filled each tortilla with chicken cubes, there wouldn’t be room for the coconut rice or mango salsa or the fresh cilantro – and those are the key components of taco night! That one breast and tender got us through about 12 tacos (I don’t know the exact amount since Mr. Crumbs made the tortillas that night) and one leftover rice bowl. Can such little meat really feed a family of four? Yes!
It doesn’t happen overnight though and there is an adjustment period. There have been many nights where dinner feels like a failure because we ate so much of our meat early in the month that we were down to only one or two meals worth by week four (and of course there wasn’t room in the budget to buy more). Our brains couldn’t think of anything to eat that wasn’t “meat” other than sandwiches!
Since I write down our meals on the calendar while meal planning, I began to use those notes to help plan future meals. I also made an effort to find new vegetarian dishes. I knew how to cook meat – cooking without meat was the hard part. 😉
There are a few meals planned on this menu that give the option of incorporating meat as a side dish – tacos, pitas, and rice bowls to be specific. Try reducing the amount of chicken you make for dinner those nights and see how much your family really needs to be satisfied. You may have more mouths to feed or hungrier bellies to feed, but I do wonder if we only think we need a lot of meat because that’s what has been served on the table all our lives.
Mr. Crumbs will be out of town for the second week of this menu, so we’re making some of his favorites before he leaves. The kids and I are low-maintenance with meals, so there’s a decent chance week 2 will get tossed aside and we’ll just eat cookies every night. 😉 Don’t forget to download the full plan so you can maximize your time in the kitchen!
How to Read the Bi-Weekly Meal Plans
- This plan is based on the average family of four and uses one whole chicken. Change portion recommendations and choice of meat as necessary.
- Read the entire meal plan before jumping in. Adjustments may have to be made based on your own schedule and preferences.
- When our plan may conflict with your plan, alternative ideas are provided in brackets.
- Preparation tips are in italics below the meal, provided in the download.
- Pay attention to Money Savers, Time Savers and Freezer Options. These will help you greatly in executing this plan and in your kitchen overall.
(B) Scrambled Eggs, Fresh Seasonal Fruit
(D) Spaghetti with Garden Salad
(B) Leftover Buffet from Previous Breakfasts
(D) Pizza Night [or replace with your own fun family tradition]
Weekly Dessert: Vanishing Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
(B) Scrambled Eggs and Fresh Seasonal Fruit
(D) Leftovers – Clean Out the Fridge!
(B) Leftover Buffet from Previous Breakfasts
(D) Square Pizza Night [or replace with your own fun family tradition]