Never know what to eat? Fast food slowing you down? Are you a 'regular' at more than 4 take out spots?

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If so, you might need a little help creating some basic menu ideas that you will actually cook at home.

The internet seems to have more recipes than stars in the sky. Pinterest is full of recipes no one makes. It's confusing. It's overwhelming. And you're hungry.

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In this Byte, we'll be going over some of the basic knowledge you'll need to create your own personal menu of staples.

What Goes Into A Meal?

A meal usually has 4 parts:

  • A protein

  • A starch

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  • Vegetables

  • A sauce

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Daily, an adult needs:

  • 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight

  • 2 to 2 - 1/2 cups of vegetables per day

  • 225 - 325 grams of carbohydrates (through starches) per day

These are rough guidelines. Specific amounts will vary depending on your age, gender, general health and dietary goals. Consult a doctor or nutritionist to get individualized recommendations.

Quiz

Which of the four parts do you think is the least necessary for nutrition?

Starch

Sauce

Protein

Vegetables

List Your Likes And Dislikes

If you're going to hunt for new recipes, you need to know what you like and what you don't like!

Create a list of your likes and dislikes organized by the four categories.

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Common protein items are: Meat, fish, beans, lentils, eggs, tofu, cheese.

Common starch items are: Grains, potatoes, pasta, rice.

With vegetables and sauces, the options are too many to list.

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What Are Your Priorities?

Now that you have an idea about the ingredients that will and won't go into your meals, you need to figure out your priorities. This will help you determine whether you want to try a new recipe or not.

Some example priorities would be:

  • Nutrition

  • Quick preparation time

  • Quantity for leftovers

  • Taste and flavour

  • Price

Which of these are most important to you?

Try New Recipes

There's no avoiding it. You're going to have to try new things.

Look for recipes that match your priorities, and contain the ingredients you like, and avoid the ones you don't like.

Remember: You can (and should!) substitute ingredients in recipes to remove things you don't like and add things you do like.

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Improvise!

If you're feeling adventurous, you can always improvise and make your own dishes!

Here's a simple technique for improvising a meal:

  1. Pick a protein that you like. It's easy to start with a meat or a fish that can easily be cooked in the pan or oven.

  2. Add some rice/potatoes to make something with a dinner feel, or use bread to make a sandwich.

  3. Cook some vegetables in a pan/oven, or add some fresh ones to a sandwich.

  4. Add a sauce from your fridge, or use the drippings from the meat/fish/vegetables to make something new.

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That's it! The more recipes you try out, the better your experiments will be.

You Be The Judge!

Once you've eaten a dish, think about whether it meets your expectations.

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Ask yourself:

  • Was it tasty?

  • Was it easy to make?

  • Did it fit into my budget?

  • Could I eat this often?

  • Was there a reasonable amount of cleaning?

  • Did it take a small amount of time?

  • Did I make enough?

If you answer 'Yes' to these questions, it looks like you've found yourself a staple! Add it to your menu, and move onto the next one.

Flaticon IconOnce you have enough options that you feel good about, you can tone down the experiments and ease into a routine of eating those staples.

When you get bored of them (which will happen), go back to experimenting to increase your options.

Summary

By understanding the components of a what makes a meal in general, you can better experiment with recipes and your own creations.

You should be aware of your likes, dislikes, and personal meal priorities to help sort through the endless number of recipes online.

Flaticon IconWhether you follow recipes or improvise, be sure to judge a meal when you're done. If it passes your judgement, you've found a staple. If it doesn't, go experiment again.

So get out there are nurture your inner-chef!

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This Byte has been authored by

AV

Alex Venis

Post Secondary Educator, E learning specialist