You want your family to be healthier and eat healthy meals, but there are many challenges. You may have picky eaters in your group, or family members with different dietary restrictions. It can be hard to put together a well-balanced meal plan that meets everyone's wants and needs. Working parents also have time restrictions. It can be hard to put in a full day in at work, then get home and cook a nutritious family meal. Here are some useful tricks to help your family eat healthier together.
1.) Make Breakfast Count.
In many families, breakfast is the one meal you can count on having together before everybody goes their separate ways. Make the most of this meal from a nutrition standpoint, and you will be off to a good start. For days when you're in a hurry, look for healthy breakfast cereals that are high in fiber, without excessive sugar. On weekend mornings when you have more time available, you can cook up some whole grain pancakes, oatmeal or waffles. Top them with some fresh fruit like blueberries or strawberries for a delicious, nutritious breakfast.
2.) Plan Your Dinners In Advance.
Many people recommend that you plan an entire weekly menu in advance, but this can be a daunting task, especially when you have shifting time obligations for you and your family. An easier place to start is by planning the dinners, and working two or three days in advance. For each dinner, try to include some type of protein like meat, fish or beans, along with at least one vegetable, and a starch such as whole-grain pasta or brown rice.
3.) Make Nutritious Food Fun.
Children can be naturally resistant to eating new foods, preferring to stick with their tried and true favorites. One-way around this is to make the new food items fun. You can make pancakes with smiley faces, or cut sandwiches into fancy shapes. You can also give food fancy names, such as calling broccoli "baby trees." Another trick is to make things dippable, so that kids can play around with the food. If you put some carrot sticks next to a few different dips, kids will enjoy trying them out, even if they would never touch the carrot sticks on their own.
4.) Get The Kids More Involved.
If the kids are involved in selecting recipes, picking out the fruit at the store, or even preparing the meal, they will be more likely to eat and enjoy the resulting food. Take them to the store, and show them how to pick out the best apples or melons. Let them help by making a salad, stirring a pasta sauce, or filling the cups when you're making muffins. It becomes something they had a hand in creating, and they will view it much more favorably.
5.) Establish Your Own Boundaries.
For the sake of your own time management and sanity, don't let yourself fall into the trap of making different meals for everybody in the family. This multiplies your work, and gives everyone the feeling that it's his or her right to order something different. Instead, just make one meal, and serve it family style. If one person can't eat something, they can just help themselves to the other dishes instead.