Meal Planning Using Dinner Ideas from Around the World

Published: 15th May 2008
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Cooking family dinner at home is becoming a major trend, helping families not only grow closer together, but also allowing them to keep a balanced budget and a good bill of health. However almost everyone knows the frustration of struggling to plan dinner night after night. It is often hard to overcome the temptations of the fast food joints, and can be even harder when you run out of fresh dinner ideas and resort to the same menus weekly - even favorite dishes can soon become blasé.

There is good news, though. Everyone likes variety! The key to maintaining your dinner-at-home initiative is advance meal planning that includes both old favorites plus new recipes to keep it exciting. To add some new life spice to your weekly dinner menu, try new recipes that are globally diverse. Don't be afraid to go out on a limb. Check out the amazing resources the Internet has to offer; you can find recipes from around the world in less time than it takes to flip open a cookbook. From the curried favorites of India to the light and luscious combinations found in the Mediterranean, you can easily turn your table into a global buffet.

Start your international meal planning initiative with comfort foods from various regions. Foods remain popular for a reason - they taste good! For example, Japanese comfort food would include miso soup; in parts of Italy, minestrone soup would be a traditional weeknight meal. Add some authentic ethnic comfort foods to your repertoire, and soon they will become your favorites as well.

Dinner ideas are plentiful in today's connected world. Try setting each day aside for exploring a different culture through food. Mondays may be your day to make Mexican cuisine, while Tuesdays feature Middle Eastern food. Let your week be an adventure around the world!

The earlier you expose children to a variety of cuisines, the less likely they will become a "picky eater". Nevertheless if your kids take a dislike to the new fare, don't give up. Don't fall back on the drive-through staples of hamburgers and fries, and don't give them an option. You are in charge of menu planning, not the kids! Require your children to at least give each new meal a try. They will get used to new textures and flavors, and over time will even become willingly adventurous with new flavors and enjoy new foods as much as you. Keep experimenting with new dinner ideas and get your children involved in the meal preparation. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Remember don't abandon your family's favorite meals, though. Successful meal planning incorporates both your old stand-by dinner recipes along with new dinner ideas. Most importantly don't expect miracles from either your kids or yourself. Take a break periodically and splurge on dining out. Then get back on track with your meal planning at home. You'll be surprised how easy it is to bring global flare to your dinner table and how doing so will keep you enthusiastic about cooking dinner at home.

Kim Chase has traveled extensively and enjoys cuisine from all over the world. She is a food and recipe writer and the founder of her Meal Planning website.

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