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March 8, 2022

What's For Dinner?

In this week’s episode, join me and my dear friend Lisa Cooperman, a Registered Dietician and mother of two teenage girls as we discuss simple food preparation ideas and the challenges of making smart meal choices. And don't forget to follow Real Life Momz, and click on our Facebook group at to share your favorite cooking ideas, recipes and resources. --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.

Momz Resources:

* eMeals: helps plan your weekly meals, download your shopping list, and even distribute the grocery list into your local delivery services. eMeals has made my weekly meal planning so much easier. Check it out; they also have free trials.

* Mealthy MultiPot 9-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker with Stainless Steel Pot, Steamer Basket, Cooking with a pressure cooker is fast and easy. I personally love my instapot. (Note: This is an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you, but we will earn a small commission on this purchase)

* Lisa Cooperman, Registered Dietician





Welcome to Real Life Momz. I'm your host, Lisa Foster, and Real Life Momz is a podcast, that's all about real conversations and real-life issues that parents deal with every day. Our mission is to connect moms by talking about these topics and to continue those conversations through our Real Life Momz Facebook group, where we'd love for you to become part of our community. And today I invited my friend, Lisa Cooperman, a Registered Dietician, and a mom of two to help us discuss what to make for dinner.


Hi, Lisa. How are ya? I am great. Thank you so much for coming on Real Life Momz. I'm really excited because today's episode is what's for dinner and, you know, as a good friend of mine, I struggled with this all the time. And I thought like, since you are not only a mom of two, but you're also a registered dietician, how handy is it to have to talk about this? Sometimes

it's a blessing and a curse. I struggle with any meal prep. It doesn't matter if it's dinner, breakfast, lunch, feeding the family and what they'll eat as like a whole family unit has been really challenging. Is  that challenging for you too? It depends on my kids and their moods that they're in, but typically, no. Um, I do a lot of planning ahead of time and I do post my schedule for the week. So if they took the time to look what the day was and then kind of coordinated what dinner was going to be that day, either make themselves something else or just suck it up. We do a lot of sucking up, but wait, you said you post, you actually physically post what you're making for dinner the whole week. I do. I like that idea. Well, I'm a little bit of a scheduling nerd and I like to cross reference and make sure I don't miss any appointments or hockey games or appointments for my work and my business. Then I will check my refrigerator and pantry and then I'll make a pseudo dinner list. I see so many things I do wrong already. So you actually, okay. So you actually look in your fridge. Open the door of the refrigerator. I think what should I make before and think of what to buy to make. I don't know if you'd look in my fridge to see what I have to say, oh, I still have chicken leftover. Maybe I should make something with chicken. I actually, yeah. I'll tell you what I do later, but I'm a mess. So that already is smart. 

Back in the day, my family always had certain things on certain nights. Like Monday was meatloaf and Tuesday fish, whatever it was. And I was like, ah, fish again, you know, the worst one. But I remember them having things, why don't we always do that? Why can't every Monday we have tacos every Tuesday we have Pizza, you know, whatever it is like, why do I even have to think? But it would be nice if I just had the same meal every day, well, Or, every Friday, you have the same meal. If you are super busy it is a really good mantra or a good practice to follow. I had taught a meal prep class a couple of weeks ago and I found that this woman who was so super busy and four kids, and both parents were working there just to have that Monday. This is the meal Tuesday, this is the meal. And that way she had a very standardized shopping list. So I mean, knowing what you're going to make for dinner and then sitting down and planning out a shopping list around those ingredients and then just doing one basic shop can really be a huge time saver. And I do that. I mean, so I, I will on Sundays make a list of what to eat, but I think I hate doing it, it is the last thing I want to do is think about every day, the week seems so long and I can get to maybe two or three meals and then I'm a little bit like, oh, what else are we going to have then the actual shopping that has to occur, that's a whole other chore. Right.  I do use meal planners. So like one thing that has been helpful for me, because I do hate thinking about what to make is this thing called emeals, like E and then meals. Do you use it? I'm going to just explain it a little bit for people who are listening. Cause maybe they don't know. So basically what this does is it gives you choices. And then from there, you pick the meals you like, and then it will download the recipes, but it also downs download your shopping list and it goes right into your grocery list. So that if you're using delivery services like Instacart or whatever's near you, your local stores, um, it will actually put it right on so you can order it online. So it does save on steps. So that has been helpful. What did you think about it? Um,I liked the whole concept of it can be a huge time saver for people who do not like to hit the grocery store or grocery list and plan.  So I like the idea that I can make new meals that I don't really know and try. Um, but I'm not like looking through all different recipe books and things like that. So that's, that's been kind of helpful for me. 

That's the other part about cooking dinner is they're always starving, right? So they're going through the cabinets and they're like finding things while you're trying to get. I'm also one of those let's have some vegetables before dinner. So generally now I'll give them if I'm cutting stuff up for dinner, I'll just throw them like a bowl of baby carrots or some, um,  tomatoes or snap peas or something like that. So they, at least I know they get a vegetable in. Yeah. Cause there's always hungry and that's like always so difficult having something maybe healthier out while you're cooking that they can stack on. I learned that from another dietician. Oh, that sounds advanced. Yeah. I barely can get dinner out. Do you want me to cut up? Did you put little flowers around that. Cherry tomatoes? They're all cut up for you.  So while you're cooking dinner, put out some sort of veggies, possibly a dip to make it more fancy and exciting for your kids. That if they're hungry, if they're like mine who are starving before I can get dinner on the table. So out of all the, like the helpers out there, so all the like blue aprons and sun baskets and hello, fresh and all those types of things. Do you recommend any of them? Are there any ones that you find helpful for parents who are just like those types of things and are struggling with just getting dinner on the table? Um, I think in some respect they are helpful and if you are not budget-restricted, there are good choices because they do make things a little bit easier regarding planning and prep work. But I know you still have to put all the steps together to get the meal done. So take the cooking piece away. It takes the planning and prep away. Well, some of them I think are better.  I think, Hello Fresh. I feel like it was microwaveable. I think I don't, I don't think I actually put anything together for that one. And I know sun basket has two options, has like a fresh and ready option where you could just also pop it in the microwave or they have an option where you can cook it yourself. So I think they maybe are changing it a little bit because they know that people are having a harder time keeping up with some of the cooking. I honestly haven't tried any of them. And I only speak from the experiences of my, um, my clients and my friends. I have some people that swear by them and use them three times a week. And then I have some people that have tried them and, and find them either too expensive or their kids. Didn't like all the flavors that were used today. One thing that I like to do is I like to do some sort of, I call it like a freezer batch meal. So if I can like chicken breast on sale and buy a whole bunch, and I know I have some time on a Sunday evening or Sunday afternoon, I will take a couple of freezer bags and take my chicken and portion it out and throw some sauce in there, like a barbecue sauce or an Italian marinade or, or something that will season the meat while it freezes.And I just label it and throw it in the freezer. So I'll have at least one step kind of done already. So like, I'll just turn that into a barbecue, grilled chicken, or a pulled chicken and throw it on a wrap or something of that nature. That way it kind of helps. Like,  I know I have a, um, like a pound of ground Turkey seasoned already for next week and I'm like, huh, we should make a ziti with that. That, that is good. Cause I used to do that too. And I forgot what we, they used to be a service that used to do that. We used to have parties where we would have yes, the wild. So, but that was a good concept. And I think like, like do it on your own. I think that was a great concept. The wild tree concept was basically that you take, um, you like take a Sunday and you get all these ingredients, like the chicken and potatoes, and basically, you cut everything up and you put them in these freezer bags as packets of pre-made meals, Right. And then you put them in your freezer and then every night you take out one and sometimes you can just Crock-Pot them sometimes or Instapot them. Sometimes you just defrost them and actually just cook them. But all the prep work is done. And that, that was actually amazing. That was amazing. They did, which was really fun was they would also do parties like, I think I went to two parties where, you know, it's kind of gross because you have to bring your freezer thing of like a freezer bag of like dead meat. Right, right. It's like 10 pounds of meat, you know, with you because you're doing like two weeks of meals. Right. And then you like an assembly line and put all this in bags and then you leave with like 10 meals and then you go home and you shove them in your freezer. And that was not only fun, but then you had like two weeks of meals and they were really good. They were, they were good meals, that's it. But I remember doing that at home for a while. And that's great, that's something I think I'm going to go back to after this conversation because that is a good way to just have a quick and easy and whoever's cooking. If my husband's cooking, he's got it there. If I'm cooking, I got it. The kids if they're cooking, cause they can throw stuff now in the oven and you know, they can do it. So yeah. I'm going to do that. 

Hey,  do you use an Instapot? I do. Yeah. Have you taught your kids to use i? Yeah. So kids have learned chicken noodle soup is a big one in Instapot. And so is vegetarian chili. Those are staples in our house. They love that. That's an everybody eats meal. Yeah. What are, what are your favorites? What, what,Oh, I, we do chili and the Instapot all the time, all the time, but I don't do the same chili all the time. I try to mix it up. We'll do a vegetarian, we'll do a Turkey. We'll do a white chili with chicken. You know, I try to, I try to find different recipes that way it's not the same old boring chili. And what I love about the Instapot, especially for the kids, it's this feels safe to use. I feel like when we went to college, right. We had like the, what was it? The hot plates, you know, Right. And you're not really allowed to have. I know when we were at a university, I think someone blew up a hot plate. Once. It's not me, must be another roommate. And somebody else, I did not blow up one, but yeah, those were dangerous. And um, but then, I feel like the Instapot is so great because the kids can put it in and, and they don't have to be, you know, they're not going to burn anything. It just, it's pretty easy. And so I really liked them learning that. So that's been a really good one. What do you think about the air fryer? I own one hiding in my basement. Some people they love their air fryer. And honestly the times I've wanted to use it. I go downstairs, I take it out of its space and I'm like, oh my God. I don't know how to put you all together. These different pieces that I'm like so confused with it. Yeah. I think it's, it's, it's just not, not for us. It's just another thing on the counter and whatever I'm going to cook in it. I can cook in the oven. I do. I have an air fryer. I'm still new to it. I feel like, I feel like it should be like my next Instapot. I think, um, I think what I learned from the air fryer, which I was on, it's like the one I got, right. I thought I'd be able to shove my whole meal in it, you know, chicken and like maybe asparagus all at the same time and, and then have everything done together. But I found that that was too much for it. Like I had to like either do the chicken or the veggie. I couldn't do both. So once I got over that hump, then I got to really enjoy it. Cause I thought, I thought it was like the Instapot where it makes everything so much quicker. I don't think it actually makes things quicker is my thought process, but it is easy and there's less cleaning involved. And I do like that. And I do think the kids can use it pretty easily too. And I do like how it cooks. Like I like that it gets a little like crispy on the outside, but still like, you know, soft on the inside. I like that, kind of like a cookie, but it's chicken. What do you find you cook in there? The most? I have cooked a few things. I mean, I, like I said, I, it's not my go-to. I always use all the time, but I have cooked chicken, which comes out good. My kids actually like the chicken. If I were to cook chicken in the oven and put the same spices and put it in the oven and compare it to the, um, the air fire, the kids always will choose the AirFryer wide, which is interesting because it's eating it or not eating it honestly. And that's a big deal for me. I've cooked fish in there and that's really easy to, and that was, and that's fast too. And I like that. And then I do like the veggies, um, like the asparagus or the, um, Brussel sprouts. I really like the Brussel sprouts in there. You don't have to use any oil when you cook in there. Correct. Right. You use, so I use olive oil spray and you do have to spray the basket of your wise things do stick on there. That's fine. Um, but yeah, so that's been fun and I actually learned how to do French toast in the air fryer, as long as you do not overcook, it's good. And it's crispy or my daughter calls it French toast. It's almost like French toast sticks. They're crunchy on the outside. And it's almost like a crunchy French toast, but it actually, that, that is fun.That is fun. And, and it's yummy. So that's what, that's another plug. So yeah, you really have to explore the air fryer. And I know there are people out there that are like swear by them. Um, I'm not there yet cause I'm still very new. But, um, but yeah, it is something to try. I will, I will give it another shake. Maybe, maybe we just got off on the wrong foot. Maybe. And I did too, because I, I think I misunderstood my air fryer. We were not communicating. I thought things would detect quicker. I didn't realize there was flipping involved. I thought I'd just shove it in kind of like the Instapot and say, see you later, give me a call when you're done. But no, there's more, there's more attention and communication with your, with your air fryer. Oh my goodness. So I have a friend that absolutely hated her Instapot to the point where she called me and said, I'm putting it on the driveway and I'm going to run it over with my car. Yeah. I mean two things at once. Yeah. Multitasking cooking. Good. Yeah. So why did she, did you teach her how to use it?  She is so gung-ho on her Crock-Pot she was used to, so it's hard to change people from habits that they're they grew up doing. I think the Crock-Pot is more like, if you want to put it in and let it sit all day. Right. I mean, think that's, that's the thing. If you have the time and it has, you know, good. And, and maybe especially when you go to work, it's like shoving it in. Great. When you get home, it's done and it's the instapots more  like, oh, I want to shove it in now and I want it done quick. Right. You don't need to plan as much. So.I also do the ladder with, uh, the Instapot too, because it goes into a warm setting. Right. And then it just holds it a certain temperature for the duration till when you need it. Mm. That is true. I've never done that. Cause I used to crackpot. I used to throw in my stuff and then go to work and come home and it was done. And that, that was magical. I have to say, there is a magical feeling about coming home and smelling dinner, even though nobody was around to be cooking. It's almost like you had this little chef. Yeah. It was like amazing. Amazing. I love my little. Yeah. So when I had a hard time switching over to the Instapot and you don't get that same feeling, I guess I could throw it in and I think my Instapot can be a Crock-Pot actually, I don't really understand that, but I think they all can be. So yeah, I could have that magical feeling again. And these are handy. I feel like these are, these are my saviors, right? These absolutely. Because I also feel like when I put anything in the Instapot, it tastes good. I haven't had anything come out back. I feel a little bit healthier in there and you're done like, and things that I would be afraid of cooking. I just, I feel like I'm not afraid. I could just shove everything in there, press a button. It is that they tell me to press and it magically appears. I love it. That's Awesome. And look at all the options you have now. Look, now I want to cook. I'm going to go find something. Right? See, thank you for bringing back the things I think I got into this, like rut. Well, I think my problem is, is busy schedules, right? Whether it's my work schedule or the kids' activities and then, and then feeding my kids and husband and not having the response of yum, right. It's always one person is not exactly happy about the meal. And I think that wears on you a little bit of wanting to do it. Do you want to go ahead and do it the next day? If no, one's going to like it again. I am not getting positive feedback from cooking. You know, I need some positive reinforcement from cooking. Hey, I've had your cooking. I think it's darn. Good. Oh, thank you. Thank you, Lisa, I appreciate that. So, so Lisa, what do you want the listeners? Well, I think as, as a registered dietician and a mom, you know, there's a big maternal drive to nourish your family and to feed your family. And it's almost an expression of, of how we love you. We love you because we feed you good food and it's comforting. And if we sit around the table together and have a nice meal and share our experiences of the day, it's a nice experience. It's a nice way to end your day. Not everybody can do that. I understand. And, and I know that there are families out there that are completely scattered when the evening come around. And I think taking some time on the weekend and sitting down and looking at your head schedule and in your refrigerator and your freezer, as well as in your pantry, putting down a schedule and a list and just knowing what you're going to do, having a game plan. And you're not going to go out and play football without a game plan for each session that you run out there. Right? Yeah. I have to remember to look in my pantry first, my fridge while, and then I used to do like, it's so funny cause I used to do these things and then sometimes, somehow it just faded away. And now I do other things. Um, I do wanna say though, dinner, um, I am jealous that you can eat with your family every night. I feel like, gosh, it's so nice. And I don't, I mean we probably together maybe twice a week, I would say that on average, but one thing I think I have to remember there are other meals, right? I think didn't really think of that's the meal. We should eat together. But a lot of times I feel like we can get a good breakfast and we'll do like a weekend breakfast together. And even though maybe we can't get dinner together, um, sometimes breakfast works better because we're all together. There's so many different times and different schedules and this person's here and there and sometimes it's just a mess. Um, but sometimes breakfast we're all together. And I feel like that's also something to take away that it doesn't have a meal together can be any meal. Right. It doesn't, it doesn't have to be dinner, right. Just a time to get together. And. Yeah, it can be even be, it could be a Linner or it could be a brunch or breakfast. It doesn't matter. You know, having that family time and sharing a meal, um, is, is very important. Yeah, no, it is. It's such a good time to connect and I loved how you put it, you know, just sharing a meal and nourishing your body, but also, you know, through food, nourishing your body and also though nourishing your soul through just talking to each other at that time and connecting how important, you know, so overall food should be more than just eating,. Right. It's way more than nutrition. There's a lot of, um, social and emotional connection we have with our food. And yeah, I think that's a takeaway from today is, is putting that connection together. Yeah. Food is more than just eating. Yeah. I love that. I love that. Um, well Lisa, thank you for sharing your expertise with us, and it's nice to meet somebody who actually enjoys cooking and feeding their family. Um, but I am, I'm going to take away definitely. Some of the things that you talked about today, thank you so much for coming and listening to our show today. I cannot wait to get cooking with my Instapot and I can't wait to start preparing meals that I can put into my freezer. So I will be able to pull them out and feed my family. When I get home from work, come join us on our Facebook group. We would love to hear your ideas around cooking for your family and what you make for dinner. And don't forget to follow Real Life Momz so you don't miss an episode.

Lisa CoopermanProfile Photo

Lisa Cooperman

Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist

My name is Lisa Cooperman and I am a wife, mother, volunteer, Registered Dietitian and founder of Vital-U LLC. With over 20 years of experience, I have helped hundreds of clients eat safely, lower blood sugar, improve cholesterol and lose weight. Clients include busy professionals, individuals with new diagnosis, doctor referrals and even doctors. Besides helping individuals, I enjoy presenting nutrition information to groups of all sizes and am passionate about helping those with food allergies and intolerances.