Creating menus
Create menus that allow for flexibility. Remember to ensure you are creating a well balanced diet in each meal that you plan by serving proper portion sizes and incorporate foods that complement each other on the plate when served together. Provide good tasting leftovers for your family to enjoy during the week by preparing extra by making a double recipe. Use foods that hold up for a couple of days but leave out items that can be added in later to insure a fresh tasting quality. When preparing a shopping list think about items that can be used together, or followed up with by creating a second dish with the leftovers. Only get the amount of items you can use before they go bad like fresh vegetables or meats.
Having food ready to go that have been prepared in advance can be a life saver when time is short. Plenty of things taste just as good when reheated like lasagna, soups and sauces. Burritos and Enchiladas are also great wrapped up for enjoying later.
Planning ahead
If you are freezing cooked or purchased items for later use make sure to label them by name and date so you will know exactly what you are looking at when it comes time to grab something to make for dinner.
When buying meat like chicken breast or pork chops consider buying bulk for a savings and freeze the extra on wax paper covered cookie sheets overnight then remove and individually plastic wrap and put them in a Ziploc freezer storage bag and return to freezer for later use to thaw or defrost in microwave if needed in a hurry. Ground Beef can also be frozen in patties or in recipe size packages.
Help to make sure to use the frozen items before they go bad by placing them on rotation on a certain day of the week or start a once a month food theme night to make a routine and to help return the joy of everyone sitting down for dinner together as a family.
Just as it is important in preparing a good balanced breakfast in the morning everything should also be served at the correct temperature on the plate. The hot items should be hot and the cold items cold. If you start cooking the eggs and the toast before your bacon and potatoes you will have cold eggs and toast and hot bacon and potatoes on the plate.
This rule is good to follow in complex meals you prepare by calculating the time it takes for all of your courses on the dish to come together at the same time and making sure to have the items that take the longest started first but leaving yourself plenty of time to make sure the other items have enough time to get finished up also. Having the basic preparation done before hand can help make this possible. The sequence and timing of executing your meal is also seeing your plan come to life. You can finish cooking put it on the plate and sit down with your loved ones to enjoy a delicious meal.
Here are some tools to help you get on your way to eating better meals and saving money
A weekly meal planner can also help you manage your time in the kitchen.
For a more well balanced and personalized menu…
Use the new Food Guide Pyramid to plan nutritious meals and snacks. Healthy foods give you more value for the dollar.
USDA has a free online nutrition tool called Super Tracker.  After you enter information about your daily habits, it shows you whether or not your diet is balanced.
First you enter your age, sex, height, weight and physical activity level, then begin entering food items and amounts you eat every day. The tool will instantly create a plan for you including a daily, weekly or family menu and goal-setting worksheets. You can also add additional family members into the plan.

Ed Jacobson a.k.a “Chef Ed” is an up and coming chef from the San Francisco North Bay area. Best known for his creative twists and fresh ideas on long time favorites, Chef Ed’s passion is for pleasing the palates of young and old. Ed is currently the Executive Chef for America’s Chefs developing their signature recipes. In October, 2010 Chef Ed travelled to Guantanamo Bay Cuba with America’s Chefs to prepare his world famous chili for the men and women serving us in the armed forces.
America’s Chefs work with all facets of the U.S. military and their families t0 provide celebrity chefs and other culinary related personalities with a vehicle capable of presenting shows and demonstrations at select military bases & installations. The culinary experts of America’s Chefs offer educational and morale boosting opportunities as well as healthy rivalries through demonstrations and cooking competitions.
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