Tag Archives: menu

Back to School Refresher

Hi all,

Sorry to have gone on hiatus again. Summer has been crazy around here. Lots of travel, lots of home repairs, lots of cleaning from said home repairs…. My oldest started school this year, and I’ve honestly been looking forward to an enforced schedule to regulate our days.

Many people feel like this time of year is almost like a New Year’s, a time for resetting and making goals. Hopefully, you are trying to get into a groove with menu planning, eating healthy, etc. Here are a few tips that have been helping me lately.

1. Find something you WANT to cook. We all need lots of quick meals in our arsenal. But, I think it is a good idea to find something that you really want to cook/make that maybe takes more time. For example, I recently grew my own sourdough starter. I’ve used it to make bread, waffles, pancakes, and pizza crust. Does it take time? A little, but actually not that much active time. The key was I WANTED to make it. So I didn’t mind the time. Think outside the box: homemade nut butters, jam, curing/smoking meat, bread, sauerkraut. Maybe it is taking time to stock your freezer with items. But think of something you’d be willing to spend time cooking. I bet you’ll find the time.

Sourdough Bread

2. Think through all the food you need when making your grocery shopping lists. Most kids need to take a snack to school. Maybe you’d have a better day if you took a snack with you to work. Make sure you have accounted for these in your shopping. If you don’t buy healthy snacks, they won’t magically make it into bags. It seems like a no brainer, but it’s important to think about it. One box of crackers and one package of string cheese isn’t going to keep you all going for a week.

3. Try to eliminate decision making. Planning a menu can be a lot of work. Try to streamline or simplify where you can. We always eat breakfast for dinner on Wednesdays. Tuesday is leftover night. Maybe every Tuesday can be taco tuesday. Pizza Fridays. Meatless Monday. These systems either remove or simplify the decisions when planning your menu. Help yourself out!

4. Pick one day for a fancy dinner. Our family recently started having a more formal dinner on Sundays. We sit at our nicer table, use a tablecloth, kids get real dishes, use cloth napkins, etc. We are hoping to break out candlesticks. I try to make sure food makes it into serving dishes rather than putting pans on the table. I often try to have a special drink. Taking this time to enjoy food as a family has been great for our relationships. My kids love it and are SLOWLY improving in table manners. And even if the dinner isn’t super complicated, it feels fancy because of our surroundings. Try it!

Hope these three tips help you as you go back to school. I’ve got some fun recipes coming soon!

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Calorie Counts on Menu Boards

Most of us know it is difficult to watch your calorie intakes when you eat out. What seems healthy can often blow your calorie budget: salads that are 1000 calories or more, a chicken sandwich has the highest calorie count of any sandwich on the McDonald’s menu, etc.

In an effort to make health-conscious eating out more feasible, regulations have been in the works for years now to require restaurants with more than 20 locations to label their menus with calorie information. Seems great, right?

That took a slight setback recently. Recently, a bill was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives delaying the deadline for restaurants to have this information until May 2017. Bad news, right?

I actually have mixed feelings on this. Having spoken with some players involved in getting this information ready, it is more complicated than you might think. Easy examples are frozen yogurt shops or pizza places. Toppings will change the info for each pizza. That is a lot of information to try and fit onto menu boards.

I recently saw this solution at Chipotle:

Chipotle menu board

I’ll be honest. While I’m generally a fan of the menu labeling, this solution seems fairly unhelpful. A 500 calorie range with no specifics on what makes you at the bottom or top of that range is basically useless.

All in all, I think this is an important reminder that all regulations require a lot of nuance and to not be overly critical of either side. Each side has valid points.

What do you think of this regulation and it’s postponement? Let me know in the comments section!

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Calories on the Menu

The FDA issued rules last November that indicated would require most restaurants, grocery stores, and coffee shops to display nutritional information on their menu boards.  This has been a change that has been years in the making.  Many restaurants have feared this change.  The changes were supposed to be implemented by December 1, 2015.  In July, the FDA pushed back the deadline to December 1, 2016.

So will you see calorie counts on all menus?  No.  The rules only apply to establishments with 20 or more locations.  Your local diner or sandwich shop does not have to post anything.  Also, restaurants are allowed to post a calorie range for items with a lot of options.  For example, pizza places or ice cream shops that allow mix-ins.

Many restaurants already have the information posted, such as McDonalds.  Many consider the rules a big step in the right direction for the food industry.  They feel the accountability on the part of restaurants is important as well as the boon of information for consumers.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about it.  I do think it is important to be an informed consumer. However, I wonder how much that really changes our purchasing decisions.

I’d love to hear what you think.  Are you for, agains, or neutral on calorie information posted on menus at restaurants?  Let me know in the comments!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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