A sit-down meal seems impossible at times for busy families. Making sure that a meal is healthy feels like an even bigger challenge. A little organization up front gives you the chance to serve healthy meals and sit down as a family. Other nights, you might find yourself on the go throughout the dinner hour. A plan for meals on the go helps you stay on track with an overall healthy diet.
An organized kitchen makes it easier to whip up a healthy meal when you don’t have a great deal of time to spare. A weekend or evening gives you a chance to clear out the kitchen clutter and rearrange everything to make cooking more efficient. While you’re organizing your canned goods and spices, take some time to pull together a file of your favorite healthy, fast recipes. Having a list handy helps with meal planning or might give you some ideas if you are lost on what to cook on a particular night.
Meal planning increases the chances that you will prepare a healthy family meal. The weekly food menu takes the guesswork out of cooking each night and gives you a chance to balance your meals with a variety of healthy foods. By planning meals for every weeknight, you are also able to put together a grocery shopping list to make sure all ingredients are kept available.
If your nights are busy, some prep work for that week’s meals can be done on the weekend. Set aside some time each weekend for prepping meals. Get the whole family involved to make the prep work go faster. For example, if you’re planning to serve chili on Monday and spaghetti with meat sauce on Wednesday, brown all the ground meat you need for both meals on Sunday. You shave several minutes off the prep time on the day you’re going to serve each dish. You can even make the entire meal and freeze it until later in the week. Casseroles work especially well with the freezer method. You can also cook extra of certain meals and reuse them the next night in different dishes. For example, if you cook extra chili, you can serve it the next night on nachos, taco salads, chili dogs or baked potatoes.
Restaurant food is typically higher in fat and calories than a meal you would cook at home. The healthy menu at many restaurants lacks choice and variety. If you have to eat on the go, try splitting meals between family members since portion sizes are often large. Avoid larger sizes of food options when you order. Some restaurants allow you to swap traditional fries for a healthier side dish. You can also save calories by opting for healthier drinks.
Busy families spend a lot of time on the road. Snacks keep everyone from getting too hungry before dinner time and give you the energy you need to keep going. Instead of stopping for a quick snack at a convenience store or fast food restaurant, pack your own snacks. Keep your family’s favorite healthy snacks in your vehicle or purse so you always have something with you. Ideas include dried fruit, pretzels, fresh fruit or a snack mix made with healthy ingredients.