Breaking out of the box: Menu planning excitement

For the last year or so, we have been attempting to cook vegetarian dinners for Mr. Moon's parents with varying degrees of success. The motivation for this in the beginning has to do with hormones in animal products (both the natural ones and the ones that get pumped into them in our food supply system), and how that affects certain cancers. Whatever the reasoning, that has been dropped from Pops' medical recommendations list, and he says he is now free to eat whatever he wants. Mum still wants to keep the meat to a minimum for her own reasons and because she is proud of the weight they've lost in the last year. The fact that they went from eating restaurant food 7 nights a week (and if not 7 the rest were out of a box) to home cooked meals at least 5 nights a week probably had more to do with the weight loss in my opinion, but if it keeps them from eating out or from a box too much then the "why" probably doesn't matter.

On the one hand, it's been frustrating because there were only so many meals that the 'Rents were willing to eat. Mum is a lot more adventurous as long as it's not spicy, but Pops wants his hearty, traditional meals. These of course rely on lots of heavy starches that aren't good for Mum's diabetes, but she's eating tons of junk food and sugar the rest of the day anyway so I don't know that my efforts on dinner even make a difference. Plus, apparently my inspiration for vegetarian foods that wouldn't result in a slow riot from the living room pretty boiled down to serving lots of soups.

On the other hand, having "themes" and some limitations on the food really did help narrow our choices somewhat, which makes meal planning a bit easier. I'll spend some kind going through my Pinterest for meal planning ideas, because I've saved some even if I couldn't use them right now. Our themes might change, but Mum and I are committed to keeping lots of fresh vegetables in our diets.

If nothing else, this is an opportunity to shake things up a bit and be a little more exploratory!
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Does your family have "themes" for meal planning? How about diverging diets and reluctant eaters? How do you make it all work out in your home?

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