Today's busy lifestyle may have you wondering how well your family is eating. Does your family eat breakfast before running off for the day? Do you pack healthy lunches? Are you having family dinners together? Like many families, you might find meal planning a challenge! Here are some ways you can make improvements to your family's meals.
Deciding what your family will eat is as simple as making a healthy shopping list. After all – what's in your kitchen is what your family will eat! Take time to think about the family meals for the day. Better yet, plan a whole week's worth of meals – especially those busy weeknight dinners. Try these menu planning tools to get you started.
Have breakfast every day!
Eating breakfast provides energy to get you going. People who eat breakfast are more likely to have a healthy weight. For a quick breakfast for the family:
Enjoy whole grain cereal with milk, fresh or dried fruit and a small glass of 100% fruit juice.
Make a smoothie with yogurt and fresh, frozen or canned fruit. Have it with half a whole grain bagel or lower fat bran muffin.
Cook up a poached or scrambled egg in the microwave. Have it on toast along with a glass of milk.
Take a healthy lunch!
A missed meal may cause overeating later in the day. When planning lunches for the family, include something from each of the four food groups. For a balanced lunch try:
Cheesy Chicken Crunchie Quesadillas: Serve this up with apple slices and a glass of milk.
Mini Pizza Sandwiches: This sweet and tangy vegetarian version is colourful but can be changed up to the taste of each child.
Soy Butter and Banana Roll: Your kids will love this twist on the traditional peanut butter and banana sandwich.
Tuna Mini Sandwiches: Instead of buying packaged convenience food containers, make your own! Pack the different parts of this “sandwich” for lunch at school.
For more healthy lunch ideas just for kids, read Packing Healthy School Lunches.
Make healthy snacks!
Having healthy snacks on hand will mean less snacking on unhealthy foods.
Prepare a fruit plate with sliced melons, apples, pears, orange sections and pineapples. Use vanilla yogurt as a dip.
Serve raw vegetables like celery and cucumbers with peanut butter.
Blend up a fruit smoothie with fruit and low fat yogurt.
Have a hardboiled egg with whole grain crackers.
Try hummus with pita bread triangles and baby carrots.
Choose whole grain crackers with a small amount of low fat cheese (one inch cubes) and apple slices.
Have a small bowl of whole grain cereal with milk.
Here are even more delicious snack ideas.
Make ONE supper meal for the whole family!
Make meals that most family members will enjoy and avoid becoming a short order cook. Avoid too many fast food or prepackaged meals.
Here are some fast and easy meals you can try:
Serve cooked chicken with bagged salad, baby carrots and whole grain buns.
Cook once and have two meals. Make up a batch of soup or stew or two lasagnas instead of one. Freeze extras for a meal another day.
Visit the EatRight Ontario recipe section for lots of dinner ideas.
Managing family meals can be a challenge, but with a little planning you can create healthy eating habits that will become routine. Planning ahead goes a long way and don’t forget to get the whole family involved!
Have questions about healthy eating and your kids? Call an EatRight Ontario Registered Dietitian at 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email.
You may also be interested in
EatRight Ontario Recipes
Make a balanced breakfast a habit in your home
Parent and Caregivers Influence on Children’s Eating Habits
Last Update – June 10, 2015