Do you ever get stuck trying to create meals for you and your family? It can be time-consuming, confusing and especially frustrating when you slave over a meal only to get moans and complaints from the peanut gallery. It’s enough to make all of us run to the drive-thru for dinner! However, eating at home has been shown to be better for your health and your budget. Eating at home is associated with higher intake of vegetables and fruit and a better diet quality in general.
Try these meal planning tips to create meals that not only meet the nutritional needs of your family, but, hopefully, will give you options they will actually eat (I’m looking at you picky eater moms!).
- Tip 1: Determine how often you realistically can eat at home.
It is completely unrealistic for busy families to try and eat all meals at home, so don’t try to be perfect! Plan for the number of meals your family can logistically have at home and if you are going to go out to dinner don’t feel guilty about it!
- Tip 2: Make a “consistent” meal that you know your family will eat a few times a week.
There is nothing wrong with repetition and getting what you love! If you are feeding picky eaters, just know if you make spaghetti, they will eat it. Plus, when creating a meal plan you will have the same ingredients weekly that don’t take much thought. A meal plan can be as simple as the following combination at each meal:
- Tip 3: Try something new.
I do think it is important to have a handful of “go-to” recipes. However, there is something very rewarding and challenging about trying to cook new things. I’ve often had clients say, “I can’t cook.” Frequently, they are skilled at several dishes, but haven’t tried anything new recently.
Let kids choose from the selections you offer and choose how much of it they want. I always include something I know they will eat as part of the “new” meal– we call this a “preferred” food. Even if they just eat the preferred food, I promise; they won’t starve.
- Tip 4: Create meals and grocery lists at one time.
Use the grocery pick up and delivery sites! It makes it easy to create a few meals and grocery shop at the same time. Not only will you get the actual ingredients you need, but you can have a glass of wine while shopping.
- Tip 5: Just do it.
My all-time favorite quote by a guy named Will Rogers: “Even if you are on the right path, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Some days you just have to make yourself sit down and get started.
About the author: Kate Collins is a registered dietitian, Oklahoma City mom of three and author of the blog The Dietitian Diet. Because she’s struggled with weight herself, she takes a practical approach to helping her clients and readers maintain a healthy lifestyle and believes in balance.