Five Mealtime Survival Tips for Harried Parents
You know that you and your kids need to eat right. But with your busy schedule, sometimes it may seem tough to make sure everyone has nutritious meals and snacks.
Fast-food is tempting, but the key is to incorporate healthy eating into your lifestyle. Here are some time-saving tips for preparing nutritious meals for the whole family.
1. Plan ahead
Create a weekly meal plan and post it on the refrigerator. This will help you plan trips to the grocery store and make shopping lists in advance so you'll have the ingredients you need. Try to incorporate at least three food groups in each meal. For example, one meat, one grain, and at least one vegetable or fruit.
2. Double up
Make twice the amount of each recipe, and freeze some for later. This can be as easy as making two batches of vegetable lasagna, soup, or chili, or grilling double the number of chicken breasts and saving them for salads or sandwiches. New microwave-proof, stackable plastic containers with lids that seal make storage quick and help foods retain nutritive values and taste.
3. Think convenience
Buy prepackaged salad greens, prebaked whole wheat pizza crusts, and prepared tomato sauce. For snacks, look for prewashed baby carrots, boxes of raisins, and low-fat yogurt. For lunch, cut up fresh fruits and vegetables, and prepare tuna or chicken salad at the start of the week (taking care to prepare them with food safety in mind and refrigerate them properly). In off-seasons or for added convenience, buy frozen vegetables. They're as nutritious as fresh vegetables, but not as perishable.
4. Get a good start
Research shows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day—especially for growing kids. Make sure to have healthy cereals, yogurt, and fruit on hand so that they don't skip breakfast or eat doughnuts or other sugary snacks at school.
5. Involve the kids
Take your children to the grocery store with you. Teach them about healthy ingredients as you cruise the aisles, and ask them to help plan menus for dinner. In addition to serving as a great learning opportunity, the children will feel more invested in healthy eating.