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Crafting a Health-Conscious Weekly Menu with a Touch of Indulgence

Updated: Sep 24, 2023



Introduction: Striking a Balance with Balanced Nutrition

When our children were growing up, we aimed to strike a balance between nourishing them with the healthiest food choices available and allowing them some exposure to the less nutritious, but ever-present, options in the world. We filled their plates with wholesome meals while educating them about the potential pitfalls of processed foods and unhealthy habits.


Breakfast: The Crucial Meal of the Day

Our breakfast routine once revolved around millet-soya porridge with milk, a nutrient-rich dish that kept the children satiated until lunchtime. However, when the quality of the porridge declined due to a change in our house help, we had to switch to processed breakfast cereals, which had previously been reserved for weekend indulgence.


Weekend Breakfast: Leisurely Eating Time

The weekend breakfast menu was more extensive, given the luxury of time. I could prepare a wider variety of dishes, and the children could leisurely sit, eat, and savour their meal. Besides fruits, the spread would consist of omelettes, boiled or other types of eggs, sausages, and fresh juice. Occasionally, the menu would also feature sandwiches, regular toast, or even French toast. Notably, once the children started with cereal, they would not want anything else. To encourage them to consume protein-rich foods, we substituted the cereal with chocolate milk - a delightful homemade fare they thoroughly enjoyed.


Protein: A Vital Component

From Milk was a daily staple in our children's diet, as indicated in The Rhythm of Meal Times: How Structured Eating Shapes Family Life Monday to Friday, we would also include legumes such as peas and beans, often prepared as flavourful curries seasoned with a variety of spices such as turmeric and basil. Over the weekend, we would bring in variety with other protein-rich foods like chicken, fish, beef, liver, and eggs to provide a wider range of nutrients. Most of these foods would be grilled, baked, or stewed, with minimal frying.


From Monday to Friday, we would also include legumes such as peas and beans, often prepared as flavourful curries seasoned with a variety of spices such as turmeric and basil. Over the weekend, we would bring in variety with other protein-rich foods like chicken, fish, beef, liver, and eggs to provide a wider range of nutrients. Most of these foods would be grilled, baked, or stewed, with minimal frying.


Vegetables: Our Daily Greens

Every meal in our home was accompanied by a serving of vegetables, typically a colourful mixture of freshly cut cabbage, grated carrots, and slices of cucumber. The dressing was typically fresh lemon juice. As our children matured, we added a sprinkle of black pepper for an extra kick. For additional roughage, we would also add ntula in the beans, although the children would always sort them aside. Avocados also featured in our meals whenever in season. On most Sundays, I would make vegetable soup from scratch, particularly when serving pizza.


Every meal in our home was accompanied by a serving of vegetables, usually a colourful mixture of freshly cut cabbage, grated carrots, and slices of cucumber. The dressing was typically fresh lemon juice. As our children matured, we added a sprinkle of black pepper for an extra kick. For additional roughage, we would also incorporate ntula, or bitter tomatoes/green eggplants, into the beans. While these added a healthy dimension to the meal, they are bitter and the children would always set them aside. Avocados also featured in our meals whenever they were in season. On most Sundays, I would make vegetable soup from scratch, particularly when we were having pizza.


As indicated in Navigating the Garden of Greens: A Parent's Reflections on the Battle of Veggies the children did not particularly like vegetables that looked like "trees" (brocolli) or were stalky (collard greens).


Carbohydrates: The Energy Providers

Our main sources of carbohydrates were Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, and rice, with pasta making occasional appearances. All these were either boiled or steamed. After discovering that their school served chapattis twice a week, one of our sons insisted that we adopt the same routine at home. Therefore, I quickly learned how to make chapattis, thereby enhancing the variety in our carbohydrate intake.


Over the weekend, we would occasionally indulge in less healthy but homemade fare such as various types of fried rice (pilau, vegetable rice, and so on), potato chips, or pizza.


Weekly Menu

DAY

BREAKFAST

LUNCH

DINNER

MONDAY

Millet-soya porridge

Glass of milk

Steamed Irish potatoes with legume curry, served with a side of fresh vegetable salad

Steamed rice with peas curry, served with a side of fresh vegetable salad & a glass of milk

TUESDAY

Millet-soya porridge

Glass of milk

Homemade chapattis with bean curry, served with a side of fresh vegetable salad

Homemade chapattis with bean curry, served with a side of fresh vegetable salad & a glass of milk

WEDNESDAY

Millet-soya porridge

Glass of milk

Boiled pasta with legume curry, served with a side of fresh vegetable salad

Steamed rice with peas curry, served with a side of fresh vegetable salad & a glass of milk

THURSDAY

Millet-soya porridge

Glass of milk

Homemade chapattis with bean curry, served with a side of fresh vegetable salad

Homemade chapattis with bean curry, served with a side of fresh vegetable salad & a glass of milk

FRIDAY

Millet-soya porridge

Glass of milk

Steam sweet potatoes with legume curry, served with a side of fresh vegetable salad

Steamed rice with peas curry, served with a side of fresh vegetable salad & a glass of milk

SATURDAY

Omelette, sausages, fresh juice, choice of sandwiches, regular toast, or French toast

Potato chips with fish, liver or beef, served with a side of fresh vegetable salad

Fried rice with fish or beef, served with a side of fresh vegetable salad& a glass of milk

SUNDAY

Omelette, sausages, fresh juice, choice of sandwiches, regular toast, or French toast

Vegetable soup and homemade pizza

Potato chips with grilled chicken, served with a side of fresh vegetable salad& a glass of milk

Monday-Friday

Dessert: A vibrant mix of freshly sliced fruits

Beverages: Water and homemade juice


Weekend

Dessert: A vibrant mix of freshly sliced fruits OR cake/cookies/doughnuts

Beverages: Water, homemade juice and soda


Beverages: Hydration is Key

When it came to beverages, juice and water were our top choices. Although we had soda available in the house, it was rarely consumed, reflecting our approach towards balancing indulgence with health-conscious choices. See Juicing: The Health Benefits and Power of Homemade Beverages for Children


Dessert: Sweet Treats

Dessert was a vibrant mix of freshly sliced fruits such as pineapple, watermelon, paw paw, and mango. Although we had a jackfruit tree right in our compound, it never made it to the official children's menu because of my personal aversion to its smell. Nonetheless, our housemaids would sometimes share this unique treat with the children, exposing them to an even broader palette of tastes.


From time to time, I would bake cookies, doughnuts, and cakes as treats for the children to enjoy to their fullest. As mentioned in Soda, Chocolate and Sundays: A Mother’s Journey of Moderation with Sweet Treats chocolate was always within reach, but it was indulged in only occasionally.


Conclusion

Creating a menu that promotes balanced nutrition yet allows for indulgence requires striking a delicate balance. As parents, our role is to guide our children in making wise food choices, setting the foundation for a lifetime of balanced nutrition.


Join the Conversation!

1. Can you share some of the ways you have incorporated healthy habits into your family's everyday routine?

2. Do you have any distinctive parenting tips or meal plans that have proven successful and you would like to share?


Your insights and experiences could be the very guidance other parents are seeking. Let us start a conversation today!



About the Author

Nite Tanzarn is an Independent International Consultant, with a tagline that reads: 'Gender Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity: Championing the Balance'. As a parent herself, Nite comprehends the complexities of parental guidance, which include the advantages of balanced nutrition. Drawing from her personal experiences and introspective observations, she offers insightful tips and strategies to assist other parents on their journey.

22 views7 comments

7 Comments


Guest
Nov 05, 2023

Having a weekly menu helps me in ensuring a balanced diet for my family.

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Guest
Oct 28, 2023

Having a menu helps with maintaining discipline and a healthy diet.

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 28, 2023
Replying to

Absolutely, you've hit the nail on the head. A well-planned menu can serve as a roadmap for making healthier choices while allowing for that occasional treat. It's all about balance and discipline, and a menu helps bring that structure into our often chaotic lives. Thank you for sharing your perspective; it truly enriches the discussion.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest #BalancedNutrition #HealthyParenting

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Guest
Oct 27, 2023

Having a weekly menu helps with the shopping. Without it, you may buy groceries that overstay in the fridge.

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 27, 2023
Replying to

Absolutely, a well-thought-out weekly menu is indeed a lifesaver, especially when it comes to grocery shopping. Not only does it make the shopping experience more efficient, but it also minimises waste by ensuring that all purchased items have a designated role in your meals for the week. It is a win-win situation for both your wallet and your lifestyle.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest #BalancedNutrition #HealthyParenting

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Sep 05, 2023

Hi Canisius,

You are absolutely right; flexibility is key when it comes to meal planning. While a well-thought-out menu can guide us towards healthier choices, life often throws curveballs that require us to adapt. Your comment underscores the importance of balancing a structured approach with the freedom to make adjustments as needed. Thank you for bringing this valuable perspective into the discussion.

Cheers,

Nite

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nsabimana canisius
nsabimana canisius
Sep 04, 2023

it is useful but need to be flexible


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