Few people plan on a diet of fast food or convenience foods. However, after work obligations, child care and community and church committments, there isn't a lot of time in most family's schedules for preparing meals. Convenience foods are often just easier. The good news is that with a little planning and practice, most any family can enjoy satisfying, easy and healthy meals, not just once in a while, but every day.
Tips for planning and creating healthy meals for your family
1. Make it fun for the entire family. Even the most delicious, most healthy meal will get boring if you have it too often. To keep things interesting, you need to continually add new recipes to your menu planning repetroire. This doesn't have to be a lot of work. You can enlist the kids or your spouse to be on the lookout for easy recipes they'd like to try. You can make a game of it.
2. Keep it simple. Complicated dishes will not only cost more in ingredients, but they will likely take longer to prepare and make a bigger mess in your kitchen. The "keep it simple" rule is an important one in menu planning.
3. Take a look at the weather. Weather can be a big factor in what your family will feel like eating during the coming week. If the forecast is for hot, sultry days, you probably want to cook outside and keep the heat out of the house. Conversely, a big pot of soup will be welcome on a blustery fall or winter day.
4. Make shopping a family affair. Most communities have farmers' markets at least once a week. Make this an occasion for you and the kids to pick out the food you're going to eat for the week. Vegetables will look a lot more attractive to them when they get to meet the farmer who grew them and pick out the ones they want to take home.
5. Plan multiple meals from one meat or protein source. Take a tip from restaurant chefs and use one piece of meat in multiple ways. For instance, you can grill pork chops one evening, use cut up pork strips for stir fry the next and use what's left to make stew the following night.
While healthy meal planning may seem like an impossible task, it doesn't have to be. All you need to do is involve the entire family in choosing recipes and marketing, use the same meat in multiple dishes, plan around the weather and, most important of all, keep it simple. If you need more tips for planning healthy mieals, work with a local health clinic like Colorado Nutrition for Health Fitness & Performance.