Balanced meals are one of the most important components of keeping your family healthy. However, with everything many parents are juggling, especially these days, it can be very difficult. This quick guide will help you to figure out how to balance these meals in the easiest most efficient way possible, with the extra perk of saving money on takeout.
Plan In Advance
Start planning your meals in advance rather than trying and struggling to figure out what to cook with what you’ve got each day. Whether that’s a week or 3 days in advance, you’ll find it so much easier. Start small and build up from there. You could start by planning two or three days at a time, and the once that becomes a habit, increase it. Once you have a good idea of the meals that work for various times of the week, you can get into a routine and will find it much easier to shop as you’ll be buying similar things each week. I write my weekly meal plan on Saturday, getting input from my kids so that they have ownership and more likely to help/eat it if they had input into it. I then go grocery shopping on Sunday and try to make a few things in that meal plan to help make the rest of the week easier.
Eat The Same Things Each Week
Try to eat the same things each week. This might sound boring, but if you and your family like the meals, it’s not and the benefits of having healthy home cooked meals far outweighs the costs. This makes it easier for you to prepare, cook, and shop, and it gives you all a routine that you can stick to and look forward to. Monday could be meatless like tofu or vegetarian chili, while Tuesday could be Mexican night, and so on. Feel free to change up the menu on special occasions or when you just want to try a new recipe, but try to stick to a schedule and you’ll love how much easier this makes everything. Most recipes on my blog are 10 items or less since I believe cooking should be quick, easy, healthy and delicious!
Include Vegetables With Every Meal
It’s important to include enough vegetables with each meal. Soups are a great way to get a lot of vegetables in a recipe in a delicious way. My Green Goodness Soup is creamy and one of the only ways my kids will eat kale. This Cream of Zucchini soup is creamy without the extra fat and dairy in cream and keeps you full due to zucchini’s high water and fiber count. If you want to be adventurous, you could try this delicious recipe for a dandelion greens salad to make salads more interesting and get the kids wanting to eat them. Whether you put the vegetables on the side, in a soup or in this Berry Delicious Smoothie – it doesn’t matter. Just make sure they are present and that there’s enough for everyone. It’ll keep everybody full and give them the energy they need to tackle the day.
Don’t Put Too Much Pressure On the Kids
You should set good examples when you eat, but avoid putting too much pressure on kids. As soon as you put pressure on them or label them a ‘fussy’ eater, they will begin to live up to this label. Try not to force or bribe them into eating anything. Remember to offer them different vegetables a handful of times – it can take them longer than you think to actually develop a taste for them, so don’t give up as soon as they say they ‘don’t like it’.
Stock Up On Healthy Snacks
Having healthy snacks on hand ensures that you all have something when you’re hangry. Celery, carrots, and other vegetables with hummus and other dips can be a great way to get that vegetable intake up. I believe in the 80/20 rule, so sugary snacks are ok in moderation, but they shouldn’t be all you have. I buy a lot of healthy snacks and pantry items from Thrive Market. In my award-winning book, “Busy Mom’s Cheat Sheet”, I include a list of snack recipe ideas, tips on how to read a food label and how to choose healthier processed food snacks.
Cooking together and then eating the meal together makes it more meaningful, and the kids will be more likely to enjoy it. Cooking together can be a great way to spend quality family time and build lasting positive memories. It can also teach your kids life skills like teamwork, creativity, curiosity and self-esteem. Try to enjoy the process! For me that means putting the music on and singing or dancing while cooking, or sharing the clean-up duties so it’s not as much of burden. Plan on making more portions so you have leftovers for lunch or dinner the following day.
I hope these tips were useful and would love to hear from you on your tips and tricks for providing your family healthy balanced meals.