Plan Your Dinner

Invite Your Family* to Dinner Campaign

Billions of dollars have been spent on public health projects to educate Americans about nutrition; unfortunately none of these have been very effective. The government issues dietary guidelines to help us eat better every five years, but it is estimated only 3 percent of the population actually follows those recommendations. You can help change this by hosting a For the Love of Food meal.  For Love of Food Project is based on the premise that the best place to teach nutrition is right at home, and, by combining more fruits and vegetables with everyday menus and eating on a regular, predictable schedule, we simply eat better. Sodium, cholesterol, and calories are reduced, and fiber, potassium, and vitamins are increased. Eating well can truly be as simple as that! Plan a For the Love of Food menu with your friends and family, and, at the very least, you will have a delicious meal.

*one definition of family is those that eat together.

What is a For the Love of Food meal?

There are two parts to a For the Love of Food meal.

First:  fill half your plate with vegetables. This reduces calories, sodium, and saturated fat, and adds  potassium, fiber, vitamins, and volume. Such a meal lowers blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol and promotes a sense of fullness.

Second: seat everyone at a table. This promotes community, a sense of well being and satisfies both appetite and hunger. Eating at a designated area, with the TV off can help with portion control and prevent snacking.

Why just two principles?

They are simple to remember,  making them easy to practice, and research shows they work. People who sit at a table and eat three planned meals control weight better.  Eating at a table and not watching TV or while on the computer prevents mindless eating , and when people eat together the quality of their meals is better too. Eating more fruit and vegetables at meals adds disease preventing nutrients and replaces foods that are less nutritious.

What if I want to serve a soup, casserole or lasagna?

Go ahead but fill the plate with half vegetables. For example a one cup portion of lasagna or a casserole could be pared with 1 cup Italian green beans. A beef soup could work if the vegetables in the soup are  increased to about 1 cup for every 3-4 ounces of beef called for in the recipe.

What exactly do you mean by “Fill half your plate with vegetables”?

The best way to do this is to take the directions literally; cover half the plate with vegetables. If you want to be more specific try this ratio:
for each 3 ounce portion of protein or equivalent pair it with ½ cup starch and 1 cup vegetables.

For example: 3 ounces chicken, ½ cup rice, ½ cup carrots, ½ cup green beans.

For a larger serving:
6 ounces protein plus 1 cup starch and 2 cups vegetables.
For example: 6 ounces chicken 1 cup rice, 1 cup carrots, 1 cup green beans

If you’re making an omelet it might be a three egg omelet filled with ½ cup mushrooms, ½ cup tomatoes and 1 slice of toast

What to Do:

Invite 4-6 friends or family to dinner; keep the group small so everyone can have eye contact at dinner. Have a seat for everyone- make sure your guests know this is a FTLOF meal and be prepared to share recipes .

Use this  Invitation to invite your guests. Have Fun!

Plan the menu

Create a menu that includes: vegetable- based appetizers, two vegetables so you can fill half the dinner plate with vegetables and serve a fruit-based dessert.

Appetizers-. Go to Appetizers for ideas:

The meal- Imagine a plate filled in the following way ¼ proteins, ¼ starch, ½ vegetables. The important part in menu planning is to keep the ratio of meat/starch/vegetable in balance. Go to Vegetable Sides for inspiration and ideas

Dessert- chose a dessert rich in fruit such as fruit salad, apple crisp, or blueberry cobbler Go to Desserts for fruit- based desserts

Sample Menu

Quick and Easy Artichoke Dip*
Roasted Cauliflower*

Baked Chicken
Steamed New Potato
Roasted Carrots with Olives*
Asparagus with Creamy Greek Dressing*

Free Form Fruit Tart*

* recipes can be found at