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The Value of Family Menu Planning

One of the biggest struggles I hear from clients is deciding what’s for dinner. It would seem that for many of us, we spend a portion of each day trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Once we decide, we have to make a mad dash into the grocery store before picking up the kids on the way home. Then we burst into the door, drop our bags and begin our next 6-8 hour shift as parents, tutors and housekeepers.

My friends, it does not have to be so. Join me on a little journey through the value and wisdom of menu planning.

  • We plan for one month at a time. This makes it so much easier than trying to do it weekly.
  • The kids each get a night with the understanding that they help prepare the meal as well. They are learning valuable life skills…and even better than that – I am scheming to eventually get more nights off in the kitchen.
  • We only plan 5 meals per week which leaves room for spontaneity, leftovers and less food waste.
  • Friday night is movie night & we will often make or order pizza. This is a long-standing family tradition not to be trifled with. Trust me…I’ve tried.
  • Saturday is grocery day. I am often feeling inspired to try new recipes and linger over a meal.
  • Sundays are the perfect day to make a large pot of soup, curry or chili to make lunches a little easier. We also cut up veggies and bake muffins, granola bars or cookies. This is a family affair and shouldn’t be left to one person.

My philosophy is if you eat, you can help. Granted, extra ‘help,’ in the kitchen can seem like extra work for a time, but I promise you, it will pay off in the end!

If you are looking for something warm and hearty to put on the table, try my protein, fibre and magnesium-rich meal Dahl soup recipe.


Dynamite Dahl

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed until water is clear
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • pinch cayenne
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt


In a large pot combine lentils, 1/2 of the diced onion, turmeric, cayenne and garlic. Add just enough water to cover your second knuckle when your finger is resting on lentils. Bring to a gentle boil until froth breaks up and disappears. Cover and let simmer. If the soup gets too thick, add more boiling water.

In a smaller pot, melt oil and saute cumin seed just until fragrant. Add the remaining onion and caramelize. Once onions are browned, add diced tomato and cook until it turns into a paste. Add a pinch of cayenne. Add cilantro leaves & stems. Add 1 tsp sea salt.

Now add the paste to the large pot and mix together. Allow pot to simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes. Garnish with more cilantro. Enjoy!


Amy Sonnenberg is a Nutritionist located in the Clock Tower Wellness Centre.  Life can be complicated, healthy eating shouldn’t be!  Visit her at, like her Designed For You Nutrition page on Facebook or call  519-503-7926 for more information.

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