Years ago I read an article about how the average American family eats the same 9 meals for dinner on rotation. This fact has stuck with me for years and led me on a quest to expose my family to as many new dishes as I can (without driving myself crazy, of course). However, in the years since, I have spoken to and even worked with many families who don’t love experimenting in the kitchen as much as I do.
And that’s ok! Different strokes for different folks.
But what if you could make sure that each of the 9 meals that you’re eating for dinner are as healthy as you can possibly make them while still being loved and actually eaten by your family?
By using the 3+3+3 Plan, you totally can.
This way of structuring your meals isn’t new and I am not the originator of the concept (just the cutesy name!). Talk to anyone who has successfully moved their family to a healthier diet and they will tell you this is how they did it, even if it didn’t have a specific name.
The 3+3+3 Plan itself has 3 simple steps. Ironic, no?
1. Take 3 meals that your family already knows and loves and tweak the recipes to make them as healthy as possible. For example, if your family already loves spaghetti marinara, then switch out the white semolina pasta for a whole grain pasta, add veggies and/or legumes to the marinara, and serve it with some greens. I’ve done that in my Chickpea Marinara with Pasta and Broccolini. Your thought should always be, “how can I add veggies, greens, legumes, or whole grains to this?”
2. Take 3 meals that your family already loves but need a pretty major overhaul to make a similar yet much healthier plant-based version. For example, if your family loves orange chicken (homemade or takeout version), you can switch out the white rice for brown. Trade out the fried chicken with bottled orange sauce for chickpeas with an oil and refined sugar free homemade orange sauce. Then add any steamed veggies that they like. I’ve done that in my Orange Chickpea Bowls.
3. Find 3 new plant-based recipes that your family would be open to trying. This will give you greater variety than just the standard 9 meals as you could be experimenting with 3 new meals a month for many months to come! Does your family love Indian food? Try this Slow Cooker Indian Summer Stew. Does your family love Mexican food flavors? Try these Lentil Street Tacos. Does your family like to stick to all American fare? How about a Slow Cooker Sloppy Joe? By trying just 3 new recipes, you can open up your family’s palates to a whole new world of flavor and, ultimately, nutrition.
And that’s it! 3 meals that need simple swaps, 3 meals that need overhauls, and 3 new meals to try. You’ll end up with 9 nutrition-packed plant-based meals and be well on your way to a healthier family.
Which step of the 3+3+3 Plan do you need to work on the most?