Do you have one (or several) picky eaters on your hands? As parents, we’ve all been there. If you’re concerned about what your child does or doesn’t eat, the solution to your mealtime woes could be as close as your kitchen table.
Benefits of Family Meals
Family meals provide a multitude of benefits like:
- allowing parents to act as role models
- helping to create a supportive environment that promotes healthy eating
- teaching children about proper nutrition.
Children of families who regularly eat together are also less likely to be obese, exhibit behavior problems, or use drugs and alcohol as they get older. Plus, they’re closer with their parents, which is always a good thing!
Meal planning can make getting meals to the table much easier. But you might be asking yourself “Where do I begin?” or “How can I do it when I juggle so many other things?” To help answer these questions–and give you a jump-start–follow these suggestions for meal planning for the whole family.
- Take inventory of your pantry, refrigerator and freezer to see what you do and do not need. You may also find you have items that need to be used before they expire. Use this list to start creating your meal prep ideas.
- For recipe inspiration, review the grocery store’s weekly circular. It will stir ideas that are also budget-friendly, a win win! If you’re looking for a new recipe to try, check out Pinterest. On the app or website, search any food and you’ll get endless pictures of tempting meals with links to the recipes.
- Look for staples that can be reinvented throughout the week in different recipes. For example, a large batch of roasted vegetables can be a flavorful addition to whole-wheat pasta with store-bought sauce, on homemade pizza, or in a frittata. Slow cooker BBQ chicken can be enjoyed as a sandwich on a whole-wheat bun, in a quesadilla, or paired with baked sweet potato and steamed frozen vegetables.
- Look for freezer meals or large batch recipes that could provide 2-3 meals for your family or where the leftovers could be frozen.
- Write up a realistic plan/menu of the week’s meals and/or snacks.
- Use your weekly menu to create your shopping list.
- Stick to your list to save headaches, time and money at the store!
Dedicating just a few hours on the weekend to meal planning can save you time and frustration during the busy workweek. The most important thing to remember is to BE FLEXIBLE, because life happens! If a wrench gets thrown into your family meal plans, just pick up the plan on the next day.