Pulling together the household menu can be challenging especially if the household includes helicopter parents, boomerang kids, doting grandparents and other folks on occasion. Everyone wants their fav foods, seasoned to their liking and cooked a certain way.
the first things is to try to make sure everyone has a seat at the
table. Gather the group together giving them the opportunity to voice
their likes and dislikes, encouraging each of them to respect the
preferences and dietary needs of others. Important factors in filling
the shopping cart for a diverse group are age, activity level, nutrition
and personal favorites.
Age plays a big part in filling the
grocery cart and devising a family menu. For family members who are
under the age of ten, their food choices later in life are shaped by the
foods they are exposed to as their palates develop. Teens are generally
growing and more active which adds up to their need for more calories.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, teens eating
2,000 calories a day need about 5.5 ounces of protein foods daily, while
teenagers consuming 2,600 calories daily require about 6.5 ounces from
the protein foods group each day. For adult men and women, their
activity levels also impact the number of recommended calories they
should consume. If they're less active, the calorie intake needs to be
trimmed. Typically the healthy range for men is 2,000 to 3,000 calories.
A woman's caloric intake is less, usually 1,600 to 2,400 calories.
about age 50, calorie needs generally decrease as a result of a lower
metabolic rate. As you age, your taste sensation diminishes which most
often shakes out with the loss of the ability to discern salty and
sweet, followed by bitter and sour notes. This often leaves the 60+
family members adding extra salt, spices or hot peppers to boost food
Calories do count and are closely linked to activity.
However in addition to calories, at each age level, you want to make
sure people are making wise choices. Nutrient-rich, lower fat foods are
best overall. In cases where family members have special needs such as
allergies, diabetes, hypertension or others, you'll want to make sure
the pantry includes options that will allow them to eat foods that meet
those dietary needs. If there are allergy issues, make sure everyone
knows about the allergy, the foods are clearly labeled and separate if
necessary, from other groceries. In the case of diabetes and other
special diets, include whole-grain breads and cereals, assorted fruits
and vegetables and low-fat snacks. Avoid high sugar and high fat foods.
Check with a Registered Dietitian for advice and counsel on other health
concerns that require special diets.
preferences when possible---I'm not advocating the "short order cook
solution," but by recognizing these, you're reinforcing the fact that
you respect what is important to each individual. If possible cook some
foods that can be personalized once they spoon up their portion. For
example if you make chili, consider using ground poultry in place of
beef, serve it with plenty of toppings i.e. cheese, jalapeno chilies,
black beans, kidney beans, or hot sauce. Toppings will allow everyone to
add what they like to the tomato-based meat mixture. Put the basic
spices on the table too--- and they can more spice, chilés or whatever
they like to their serving.
Solving the dinner dilemma is not
always easy, but with input from the entire family, and good
communication, it is not as daunting as it seems to plan menus that will
meet the needs of the multi-generational family.