Family Eats Challenge Series #1

by Laura on January 3, 2010

in Family Eats Challenge: Janet and Jim

This month we’re starting our yearlong Family Eats Challenge series. Throughout the year, we’ll take a journey with four families as they strive to change their relationship with the food they eat.

Our first Challenge Family is Empty Nesters, Janet and Jim, from Houston. Janet loves to cook, but struggles with finding something that Jim will eat. Jim as always been a picky eater, which is why they’ve been eating the same meals for years. Read on to hear more about Janet and Jim’s journey as our first Family Eats Challenge family.

Family Eats: What is it that you would like to change about yours and Jim’s relationship with food/meals?

Janet: I have always liked to cook and find much joy when friends and family enjoy it. However, it is not fun when people do not eat it, or do not try it. Jim has always been a picky eater, which is why I have been cooking the same things for years. As a result, shopping for food and cooking meals has become very boring.

Family Eats: Describe a typical dinnertime.

Janet: We eat at home more often than we go out, however, since we recently moved to Houston from Tulsa, we have been trying the new and different restaurants in Houston. This has been a lot of fun, and it has made Jim try different foods. While we might go out for dinner once or twice a week, I still cook a meal most evenings. Typical meals include baked pork chops, baked chicken, meatloaf, taco salad with ground beef, slow cooked roast, lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, or hamburgers. Sides will usually be fried potatoes in olive oil, salad, or a vegetable. Most of the time, we don’t have dessert, but I would like to do some baking. I usually eat breakfast, but Jim does not. For lunch, Jim will eat out (usually a piece of pizza and a salad), and I will eat the leftover chicken from the night before.

Family Eats: What is it you would like to accomplish?

Janet: I would like to change our menu and venture out into new recipes. As I said, Jim is a picky eater and will not eat casseroles or fish, for example He has started eating chicken more frequently, which is a nice change. For lunch, he usually eats out, but when he does eat at home, it is usually a bologna sandwich.

It is definitely a challenge, so new and interesting recipes would be a nice change.

Food items Jim does like: Salads, certain soups, pork, beef, corn, pastas. (He tends to choose pastas with heavy creams, of course) I go to the store and buy for the week. Jim will go to the store at times not every week and buy his food of bologna, pepperoni, and black olives. We eat a lot of dairy. Cottage cheese, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese.

Aside from branching out to new recipes, I would like to use leftovers in a different way. Jim will not eat leftovers, leaving me to eat them for lunch during the week. That is fine, but because I don’t serve leftovers a dinnertime, I have to cook a full meal every night. On occasion, I would like to get something done fast — like reheat something, add a vegetable and there you have it. So, if I have some new ideas on how to re-use leftovers, even in a hidden way so that it doesn’t look like leftovers, that would be ideal.

Any suggestions you may have for us Empty Nesters would be great and we are up for the challenge. Thanks for including us and I do believe it will be a CHALLENGE! But FUN!

This week’s challenge:

Our first suggestion is to get a handle on your menu. By planning your meals for the week, you will have a better idea of where you may have leftovers – then you can plan a specific meal that utilizes those leftovers.

This week, gather recipes that you know both you and Jim like. Then, plan how much of that food you will need to make. Most recipes provide the number of servings it will prepare, so adjust accordingly when you are planning your weekly menu.

Planning proper portions is not only a great way to cut back on waste (and on your food bill), but it will cut down on your need to serve leftovers – which, as we know, Jim does not like. And, don’t forget that portion planning is also a great way to maintain your health.

If your family favorite recipes are made without a recipe, think about the last time you made that meal, and whether or not you had leftovers (or rather, how much leftovers you had). To cut back on the amount of leftovers you’ll have in your fridge, know what proper portion sizes are, and adjust your cooking accordingly.

Finally, keep track of your stored leftovers – find a way that is best for you – such as placing a note on the door of the refrigerator indicating leftovers inside.

Once we have controlled the volume of food you are making, we can then focus on ideas on how to serve leftovers so that they don’t look like leftovers. Stay tuned . . .

Good luck!


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