With chef for a dad, food is a family affair

There is rarely a moment in the Litherland household when someone is not thinking about food. Dad Andy Litherland is constantly thinking cuisine while he oversees the kitchens of the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. His 13-year-old triplets, Kevin, Mick and Jay, are all competitive swimmers, and classic examples of eating machines, going through more than five gallons of milk each week. When mom Chizuko isn’t chauffeuring them to swim practice, she’s thinking ahead to the next meal.

Feeding a hungry family is even more of a challenge on a budget. But it’s one the Litherlands tackle by buying in bulk (their favorite store is Costco), using inexpensive cuts of meats and forgoing prepackaged foods. Their goal is to keep the weekly food budget in the $175 to $200 range, with dinners for five coming in at around $25.

A typical meal takes about an hour to prepare, Litherland said, “but it’s gone in about a minute and a half.” Below, he put together a week’s worth of affordable meal ideas.

Menu 1 - about $15

● Homemade pork gyoza with ponzu and chili.

● Steamed short grain rice.

● Napa cabbage miso soup with scallions.

● Fresh honeydew melon.

Menu 2 - about $25

● Iceberg salad with arugula, avocado, Roma tomatoes in a lemon, garlic and basil vinaigrette.

● Rigatoni with smoked chicken, leeks and mushroom gratin style.

● Garlic bread.

● Cinnamon roasted pineapple with vanilla ice cream.

Menu 3 - about $25

● Cauliflower, crispy bacon and egg salad.

● Japanese hamburger steak with shiitake mushroom sauce.

● Potato risotto with nutmeg and garlic.

● Roasted Roma tomatoes.

● Blanched peaches with custard.

Menu 4 - about $25

● Asian salad with romaine lettuce, daikon, avocado, cherry tomato and shaved red onion in a sesame vinaigrette.

● Baked salmon with carrot, ginger and scallion crust.

● Steamed short grain rice.

● Miso soup with poached egg.

● Fresh cantaloupe.

Menu 5 - about $30

● Adobo rubbed Pork tenderloin with mango barbecue sauce.

● Con gri (Cuban style rice and beans).

● Tostones (fried plantains).

● Green beans.

● Chocolate fondue with fruit.

Menu 6 - about $40

● Cream corn soup with cumin garlic croutons.

● Rosemary and garlic marinated flat iron steak bites with sauteed vegetables and dipping sauces (chimichurri and grain mustard soy dressing).

● Mashed red bliss potatoes.

● Strawberry cobbler with vanilla whipped cream.

Menu 7 - about $25

● Tilapia tacos with guacamole, chunky homemade tartar sauce, jalapeño jack cheese, shredded cabbage, cilantro dressing.

● Refried black-eyed peas.

● Frozen lichees.