Mother’s Day brings back fond memories. Once my three brothers and I tried to prepare the meal for Mom—back before taking mothers out to eat became so fashionable. I think it ended up being more of a mess than a meal. I remember attempting making breakfast in bed for my Mom one year myself with better success. Of course, Mom told me it was the best!

Perhaps this year eating at home can be a treat for moms…if we do the food preparation and clean-up, which are the “hard parts.” Eating at home can also be economical, if the meal is planned carefully.

Planning the meal starts with a good menu. The menu is the critical part of any successful dinner.

When planning a meal, consider the number of people, the skill of those preparing the food, food cost, availability and family customs—likes and dislikes. Then build the menu around the main dish, selecting from the food groups in www.choosemyplate.gov to complement the entrée.

Other planning tips include varying the shapes and food forms. Meals should incorporate both hot and cold foods. Consider using fresh, frozen and canned foods to vary texture and flavor. Don’t forget color in the meal, as well as the calorie and nutrient needs of Mom and the other guests.

Lastly, good meal planning should feature healthy foods. Avoid using too much fat, sugar and sodium in the meal.

Once you have the menu, make a list of food to buy, and head to the grocery store and/or farmer’s market.

Meat loaf, which is often a family favorite, can be quickly put together by the children. It is also a healthy entrée. Or kids can try making the cheese eggs for Mom for breakfast. Balance the meat loaf with fresh spinach salad, baked sweet potatoes, hot biscuits and fresh strawberries for dessert. Serve with a glass of milk, and you have all the food groups included in your Mother’s Day meal celebration.

Meat Loaf

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef*

3/4 cup uncooked oats

1 egg, beaten

1 cup tomato juice

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Place mixture into a loaf pan. Bake in a preheated oven (350 F) for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Temperature should be 160 F when meat thermometer is inserted into center of loaf. Let sit 5 minutes before slicing.

*May substitute 1/2 pound ground pork for 1/2 pound of the ground beef. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrient analysis per serving: 194 calories, 19 grams protein, 7 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 10 grams fat, 82 milligrams cholesterol, 2 1/2 milligrams iron, 438 milligrams sodium. Exchanges: 2 1/2 meat, 1/2 starch, 1/2 vegetable, 1 1/2 fat.

Cheesy Eggs on Toast

1 slice of whole wheat bread

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons of grated mild cheddar cheese

Place small non-stick skillet on stove and heat on medium-low until warm. Crack eggs into a bowl, beat well, and stir in the cheese.

Pour into warm skillet and stir until eggs are soft or firm. While eggs are cooking, toast bread. Top the toasted bread with cooked eggs. If desired, season with a little salt and pepper. Serve hot.