A Menu with GROW: A Method to Feed Your Family

A second week October Unprocessed menu that spends time considering food waste and the GROW Method from Oxfam International.

October Unprocessed usually serves to get me thinking about the way we eat as a family. Today I’m sharing how we get our kids to buy in to unprocessed food on Eating Rules. The most common observation about how my family eats is that we view the act of eating as essential. Time spent in the kitchen is allowed for in daily planning. Minutes to sit and stare at each other across the table are considered mandatory.

Still, the act of sitting down to eat together is not the only way to look at how we eat. The process begins long before that as we plan our weekly menu. From the planning comes the shopping, and with our garden nearing its end, that takes us to various places and options. The farmers market is first, where we choose the fresh local produce grown by our farming neighbors. Our meat comes from a select group of trusted farmers whose practices we’re comfortable with, is purchased in advance, and rationed. Our milk is delivered weekly from a local organic dairy along with our neighbor’s milk.

As winter approaches we’ll supplement some of our local offerings, but we take care in doing so, choosing options that we feel are right for our family, keeping seasonality of ingredients in mind even when purchasing oranges that are grown far from our Midwestern soil and considering the source. After all of that, we head home and the cooking process begins. Oftentimes a few hours of prep is done on Sunday in order to make the rest of the week easier: simmering soups, preparing bread dough, blanching vegetables.

Without knowing it, our family incorporates many of the aspects of Oxfam’s GROW Method into our daily routine. The premise is simple: With a third of the food on the planet being wasted rather than consumed, we need to eat smarter so there is less waste and the resources are being properly cared for and used. Eating smarter involves five steps: (1) Saving food by planning menus, (2) eating seasonally to reduce energy needed to produce the food, (3) eating smaller meat portions, (4) supporting farmers by buying Fair Trade, and (5) cooking smart to reduce the amount of energy you use in preparing food.

Click through above to learn more about Oxfam International’s GROW Method, utilize their resources, and see how you can get involved. (Thanks for sponsoring this menu, Oxfam!)

One of the things we strive for when planning our menus is making everything fit together into one nice, neat little package. We look to use ingredients in different ways throughout the week so that we’re benefiting from the ability of do-aheads and being able to buy in bulk. We also benefit from a well-stocked pantry.

Monday – Roast Chicken with Brown Rice and Green Beans

Tuesday – Grilled Vegetable Hummus Wraps

Wednesday – Corn Chowder and Cracked Wheat Dinner Rolls

Thursday – Mediterranean Brown Rice Bake

Friday – French Toast Bake and Homemade Applesauce

The Preparation Shortcuts:

1. Immediately after finishing your chicken dinner, toss the vegetable scraps and carcass into a pot, cover with water and simmer into stock as you clean up and get ready for bed. This stock is then your base for Wednesday’s soup. Cool slightly, strain, place in an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator.
2. Leftover rice gets saved and heated on Thursday so you don’t have to worry about waiting for it to cook. Leftover chicken can always be tucked inside wraps.
3. Buy vegetables in bulk or with two-for deals at the market for the wraps and the soup and use them in the rice bake. Leftover green beans and bell peppers are great additions in place of the asparagus in the bake.
4. Leftover dinner rolls make a great base for the french toast bake. It’s breakfast for dinner with leftovers, and no one cares at all.


  1. Really fabulous, Shaina. I’ve been feeling uninspired lately in the kitchen, and I think part of this has to do with my not being able to get to the farmers market for nearly a month now. Definitely time to reassess and get back there with this menu as inspiration.

  2. A fabulous post full of inspiration!

  3. So great, Shaina! I love planning weekly menus…takes the stress of mealtime away completely!

  4. Planning is the key to making life easy in the kitchen. I am all for buying local and if possible growing your own.

  5. Great post, Shaina. I love your preparation shortcuts, especially #1!

  6. I printed the Mediterranean Bake recipe out and will definitely be making that one! Thanks so much!

  7. So smart Shaina, and can I come over for dinner this week, it all sounds so good!

  8. This is one of the best posts about meal planning I have seen.

  9. I love those steps! Proud to say we follow them fairly closely already.

    Hey, can I steal your menu plan? Sounds perfect! 😉

  10. Great post Shaina – I cook almost every night and although it takes a bit of planning and time, I know that my family is being fed good healthy food and over the years, they’ve come to appreciate real unprocessed food as well as being together at the dinner table. It’s something we look forward to every night. We belong to a CSA and shop at our farmer’s market, and have reduced the amount and portions of meat we eat as well.

  11. What a great concept Shaina, love these steps. 🙂

  12. Mindful eating…I think that’s what it’s all about and it’s so important. We are trying to work on that every day…slowly making progress.

  13. Very inspiring! Being mindful of what’s in season is huge for us. And, I do love a good cracked wheat roll…my MIL makes them every Thanksgiving and I can never get enough of them. 🙂

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