The Family Eats Challenge: Janet and Jim Wrap-up

by Laura on April 11, 2011

in Family Eats Challenge: Janet and Jim

Janet and Jim, our empty-nesters from Houston, have completed their 3-month Family Eats challenge. Chef Miki of Melissa’s has been extremely helpful in helping them overcome various challenges they have faced. Janet and Jim give us a run-down on how the Challenge has helped change their relationship with food.

Family Eats:  What has been most surprising part of the challenge?

Janet & Jim:  For me (Janet) it was being able to take old recipe and changing making it a meal that is healthier. I have been stuck in a rut, preparing the same meals for years. By adding a new sauce to chicken, or using different fresh herbs, we have transformed the same old meals into something totally new. It has been a nice surprise.

For Jim, the Challenge has helped him try new flavors. Chef Miki, knowing the flavors Jim liked or was willing to try, created recipes that worked perfectly for us. Now, Jim has been trying new foods.

FE:  Is there anything that you are still struggling with?

J & J:  ! I am still struggling with the coordination of making all the foods at once. Often, Chef Miki would give us two side dishes to prepare, but with the addition of a sauce and the two side dishes, I found it somewhat challenging to juggle everything in the kitchen. Now that I am becoming more comfortable adding a sauce to many recipes, I feel that I can eventually incorporate making another side with dinner.

What is helping me with this process is my planning. Before the Challenge I did very little planning. I would step into the kitchen, know I would make the chicken, but other than that, it was simply an exercise in getting the foods cooked. Now that I am planning meals, I know exactly what I am cooking, before I get into the kitchen, and it cuts down on the stress and makes the entire process of cooking much more enjoyable.

FE:  In addition to trying new recipes, what else have you learned?

J & J:  I have also learned how important it is to plan ahead. Now that I am actively seeking out new recipes to make, I plan my weekly meals and create a shopping list for the meals we are to prepare. Also, because I am paying attention to trying new recipes, the Challenge has opened up my eyes as to all the other foods available which I haven’t really been aware of. Chef Miki has helped us expand our repertoire of foods we eat, and inspired us to try foods we wouldn’t have otherwise tasted.

FE:  Any other benefits?

J & J:  Yes, Jim is taking part in the planning and preparing to a greater extent than he ever did before (basically, he didn’t come in the kitchen – now, he has been known to help on occasion.) As well, we are talking about food. We have conversations about what we are tasting, and we are more aware of the flavors we are experiencing. Jim will often comment, asking if I used this spice or that vegetable. It has added a whole new level of fun to our mealtime.

We are also more aware of our diets, because we are paying attention to what we are eating – portion control, and the healthier ways we are preparing the recipes. This has also helped us cut down on sugar intake – i.e. sweets. We are more satisfied with our meals, that we don’t often feel the need to top off every meal with cookies or a pie. Every two weeks or so, we decide to indulge in dessert and plan it.

The one thing that I was truly amazed about was how easy it was to implement the change. I was stuck in a rut, cooking the same meals and feeling that I would never be able to cook something different. Similarly, Jim was in a rut, eating the foods he felt comfortable with, and continuing his belief that he was a picky eater. Now, after a few simple changes, which Chef Miki suggested, we see how easy – and fun – it is to cook better tasting, more healthful foods.

We look forward to giving you an update on how we fare without Chef Miki’s weekly guidance. We’ll send an update in a few weeks.


Janet and Jim

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