5 Tips on Preparing Healthy Meals

Here are my five tips on how to feed your family healthy meals:

1. Try not to eliminate or ban certain types of foods. If you try to completely stop eating foods that are sugary, salty or contain caffeine, your body will begin to crave them even more. It's better to slowly cut back on these foods. As you begin to reduce unhealthy foods from your diet, you will find that you crave them less often.

2. Meal planning plays a big role in preparing healthy dinners in a busy household. Meal planning can seem overwhelming in the beginning, but once it becomes part of your family routine, you will find dinnertime to be easier. I do my meal planning for the week on Saturday. Then I follow-up on Sunday by doing all the grocery shopping.

I have found it easy to write out my meal plans and store them in a binder. After a couple of months of creating meal plans, you can just refer back to old meal plans. I also like to leave flexibility in my meal plans. Instead of planning meals for specific dates, I just create meal plans for the next seven days and pick from the seven. You can't necessarily predict you will be in the mood for chicken on Tuesday, however you might want it on Thursday.

Make sure to include your children when making your meal plan. Listening to their suggestions will help make them feel a part of eating healthy together. I love letting my children plan their own meal, help me shop for it and then prepare it for the family. Meal planning will help you establish a pattern of healthy food choices.

3. Involve your children in the meal preparation. It is important for you to teach your children to enjoy eating healthy along with you. I always find something for the kids to do when I am cooking, even if it's something small like grating cheese. They often eat vegetables they have helped prepared themselves - even the ones I've had trouble getting them to eat in the past!

4. Keep it simple! A lot of healthy recipes require a long list of ingredients. Although it can be nice to make a meal that has a lot of ingredients for a special dinner, you don't need to do that every night. It's easy to get discouraged when you end up spending a long time in the kitchen. Try to focus on planning your weeknight meals to include a lean meat, a healthy starch and some vegetables.

5. Prepare your meals in advance, or make double meal portions. I will often cook three to four of my meals for the week on Sunday afternoon after I do my grocery shopping. I will also sometimes make a double meal portion and freeze half of it for a meal the following week. This is perfect for those nights when your children might have a late night sporting event or you get stuck at work late. I will also incorporate a crock pot meal once a week. Crock pots are the easiest way to have a warm healthy dinner when you get home.

A few more quick tips: Try to establish a set meal time. Be realistic and plan ahead and make adjustments for your family's busy schedules. Eating a high calorie, high sodium diet with your children will lead to unhealthy food choices for the rest of their lives. You might think it's a lot of work to start eating healthy with a busy schedule, but it's doable if you start with baby steps. Good luck!

Thanks to the Orange County Register Life for the Above Tips


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