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Tips for Making Family Meals Healthier

If you are a parent, then you want to feed your family the healthiest meals you can. You want to avoid fast food and pre-packaged meals as much as you can, but with busy family schedules it can be very difficult. Sometimes it just means thinking outside the box when it comes to family meals. Here are some tips to making your family meals as healthy as possible and finding time to make them.

 

 

Plan Ahead

shopping list

Every week make a plan of your meals. Take into account your family's work, school and activity schedule. Take this plan and make your weekly shopping list. I like to use a shopping list app on my phone. That way I can quickly select  what I need to get and check it off as I shop.

Bulk Food Preparation

cheese casserole 283285 640Some people like to spend a day on weekends doing all their food preparation for the week. If that works for you, that's great. I don't usually go quite this far. Instead I will try to make large batches of some meals like chili or spaghetti sauce and freeze a couple of extra meals. Another idea is planned leftovers. If we have basketball practice on Thursday night, then I make a large casserole on Tuesday night and save leftovers for Thursday. If your family tends to eat the whole casserole take out half before you serve it.

Try a Meatless Meal

stir fryIf you have a family of omnivores, then trying the occasional plant based meal may be a healthier option. Meals made without meat can be lower in fat and higher in fiber and vitamins if made carefully. Although the protein content of meatless meals is often less than meals with meat, studies have found that we should be eating our protein earlier in the day. (See my article on protein on protein for more information on this.) It doesn't have to take a long time. A stir fry with tofu is quicker to prepare than one with beef or chicken. If you use brown rice it will be even healthier. If I know I will be rushed, I prepare the rice in the morning while we are eating breakfast. You can also use a rice cooker to make it while you are working.

 

Salad for Dinner

cranberry goat cheese saladDinner doesn't have to be a high calorie affair. Especially if you are feeding the family before or after sports practices, they may not want a big meal. Salads can be prepared quickly. For a dinner salad go away from the standard green salad with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. A great salad can be made with some kind of leafy green, a protein, something crunchy and maybe something sweet. Try my cranberry, goat cheese salad for simple option.

Add more Vegetables

carrots 155714 640We all know that vegetables are healthy, but we sometimes skimp on these when it comes to our family meals. Vegetables can be prechopped and just require a few minutes steaming in the microwave. You can be more elaborate, but simply prepared vegetables are fine as well.  You can also serve them raw with a bit of dip.

 

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