Do you have a hard time coming up with dinner ideas? What if your child struggles with childhood obesity? Then you may feel even more pressure and stress to plan and prepare healthy meals. You may start the month out by planning a week of dinners to make when everyone gets home, with the best intentions to continue, only to get to the middle of week two and realize you’re out of anything and everything to even invent a new pasta dish or a creative grilled cheese sandwich – let alone fresh fruit and veggies to make it healthy.
Where did the week ago? Weren’t you just at the grocery store? Meal planning and cooking shouldn’t be added stress in your life. So, before you head through that drive-through, see the healthy tips we’ve pulled together to help you plan quick, easy and healthy dinner ideas for your family.
According to an article Whole Foods published, with childhood obesity on the rise in the United States, many experts recommend:
- Serving sensible portion sizes so kids know that "supersized" isn't normal.
- Helping kids understand how to eat until they are comfortably satisfied, but not stuffed.
- Letting children serve themselves as early as age 5 so they begin to regulate portions themselves.
- Not pressuring kids to clear their plates; encourage them to judge fullness by physical rather than visual cues.
Other things to be mindful of to get kids excited about eating healthy and developing healthy habits:
Get them involved – kids can help you measure and pour in ingredients, tear lettuce, stir the pot, set the table, clear dishes, and load the dishwasher.
Turn off the TV – Watching TV during dinner actually encourages kids to overeat because they ignore their body’s natural fullness cues. Try turning on relaxing music instead.
Talk about your day – Give each family member the opportunity to share a highlight from the day. Giving each other your full attention (no technology at the table!) will help your family feel closer, happier and calmer.
Meal Planning Tips
Cut down on shopping trips. No one feels like trekking to the supermarket at the end of a long day. Instead, go to allrecipes.com, click on "Ingredient Search," and type in the foods you have in your kitchen. The site will generate recipe suggestions from a database of 40,000 dishes created and tested by real people.
Check out a dinner-prep app. Emeals.com provides you with weekly recipes, corresponding shopping lists, and peace of mind. While there is a small fee, you will probably actually save yourself money by sticking to your shopping list and not mindlessly throwing items into your shopping cart. Plus, ingredients are used in multiple meals that week, so you’re not left with a bunch of extra cilantro or chickpeas that will end up getting thrown away.
Stick to the crowd pleasers and make enough for leftovers. Planning out 3-4 meals each week that you know your family enjoys, and making enough for leftovers, will give you the opportunity for a “yoyo (you’re-on-your-own) night" – just pull all the leftovers out of the fridge and let your family build their own meal. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel often – if you know your family loves tacos, implement “Taco Tuesdays” or if your weekends are busy with sports and activities stick to “Slow Cooker Saturdays” and just dump what you can into the slower cooker to simmer all day long.
If your biggest challenge is coming up with recipes, we’ve included some helpful links below.
Whatever meal prep, planning and preparing looks like for you, if your family is healthy and happy you’ve succeeded. Happy cooking!
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