Eating Right: Half-a dozen mealtime tips for families on the go
1. Eat breakfast at home
Don’t let your child hop on the bus, walk to school or leave with the car pool before they have at least a small breakfast. Have plenty of healthy choices available – fresh fruit on the table, bagels, toast yogurt or healthy cereals. Otherwise the temptation to sneak a candy bar, doughnut or other sugary snack may be too great. A healthy breakfast is still the best way to start out the day.
2. Weekly meal plans
Plan out your meals for the week and let the family know what they can expect. Post it on a bulletin board by the telephone, near a calendar or on the fridge. This way you can plan your trips to the grocery store in advance and be sure you get what you need. This will also help limit those last minute (and often time-consuming) trips to the grocery store. It will also encourage the children’s participation in the weekly meal plan. Try to plan for at least three food groups per meal.
3. Get input from the kids
Encourage input from the family regarding your meals. Plan for the kids to come to the grocery store with every once in a while – perhaps after a practice if you can squeeze it in – and let them be apart of the decision-making. The more investment a child has in his or her meals, the more they are likely to buy in to the idea of healthy-eating.
4. Frozen sides
Frozen vegetables retain most of their nutritional value and are not nearly as perishable as fresh veggies. Pre-packaged salads, pre-washed carrots and celery, and frozen broccoli, spinach and cauliflower won’t go to waste if you don’t get to prepare them right away. Even think in terms of pre-baked pizza crusts and prepared sauce – any of the above will make meal preparation that much quicker. And the carrots and celery make great snacks – even before dinner.
5. Make fruits and vegetables part of the “norm”
- Add broccoli to macaroni and cheese
- Serve an omelette for dinner or lunch on occasion – it’s a quick meal and an easy way to add lots of mixed vegetables such as onions, spinach, corn and tomatoes
- Keep a bowl of washed fruit on the counter, and bowls of washed and cut vegetables in the refrigerator for easy snacking
- Don’t have high-fat, high-sugar foods around the house with any regularity – leave the candy, soft drinks, chips and cookies at the store. Make fruit and veggies readily available and easy to access.
6. Make extra – and freeze it
When making dinner at home, make more than you need – package the extra in microwave-proof, plastic storage containers with sealable lids and put ‘em in the freezer for next week. Make two batches of pasta or soup; grill twice the amount of chicken breasts and save them for salads or sandwiches next week. Kill two meals with one session in the kitchen.