Cooking healthy food for your family often sounds easy, but in reality it can be much harder. Many families have two busy, working parents. They can struggle to find the time to make healthy meals and snacks. Even those people who do have time find it hard to summon the energy. Or perhaps they are not informed about what is and is not healthy. It is not essential for families to follow a clean diet all the time. However, you do need to make sure most of your food is healthy. The best way to make sure you are getting the nutrients you need is to put more thought into what you are cooking. Instead of picking meals on the fly, you should think about the best ways to get healthy food on the table.
Learn How Much Everyone Needs
Before even considering what goes into your food, everyone should think about how much of it they eat. Many people have an issue, not with the contents of their meals, but with how much of it they are putting on plates. It seems simple, except for some people it does not even register that their kids need a smaller plate than they do. The first thing you need to do is work out how much food you and your children should be eating. One guide you can use for kids is to put a handful of each item on their plate, although that is one of their hands, not one of yours.
Children need different amounts of calories at different ages. So it is important to keep track of how much they need. Plus, every child is different regarding size, metabolism, and activity levels. If you want to know how many calories your child should get, you can use a calorie calculator online. One of the easiest ways to measure out calories is to use some smart scales or a calorie counting app.
Find Time To Cook
Finding the time and energy to cook is hard when you are a busy family. Perhaps both parents work full-time and the kids might have after-school activities to attend. Even if you have a spare hour or two, it can be hard to make yourself use it to cook. One trick is to use the time when you do have the energy to cook, so you can prepare your meals in advance. You might feel exhausted on weeknights, however maybe you have plenty of time at the weekend. Perhaps spend part of your Sunday doing some cooking, so you can freeze some meals for the week. Choose recipes that only require you to throw everything in a pot and make use of a crockpot too. If you have more time in the morning than the evening, put something in your slow cooker. It will be ready for when everyone gets home.
Look For Inspiring Recipes
So many families can get stuck in a rut with their meals, to the point that you might have the same things every week. If you want to avoid having pasta night and pizza night, you need recipes to inspire you. Some people do not enjoy looking for new recipes, although many do like searching for meals the whole family will enjoy. If you do not like looking through cookbooks or written recipes, you might prefer watching videos. You can find plenty on YouTube that are easy to follow, like the ones on Hampton Creek’s channel. Just take your tablet into the kitchen with you, prop it up, and follow the instructions. In fact, you can even get a special kitchen stand for your tablet.
Get Everyone Involved
Gone are the days where mom is always in charge of all the cooking — at least, in some households. If both parents work full-time, there is no reason one of you has to be in charge of all meals. There are some things that might make you decide on that arrangement. Maybe one of you cooks, while the other agrees to clean. Or perhaps one of you is just a terrible cook and cannot be trusted in the kitchen! Of course, single parents exist too, and they often have to work out how to manage alone.
However, if you do not want all the cooking responsibility to be on one person, you should sit down together to work out who cooks what and when. It is also an excellent idea to get the kids involved with preparing their food. It helps them to get in touch with what they are eating and be more interested in what goes into their meals. Many kids are much happier to eat a meal they are proud of making. Older children and teenagers can start to cook for themselves. Small children can join in too and many parents will let their child use a small knife with supervision.
Create Weekly Meal Plans
Time management goes hand in hand with other ways to plan your meals. As well as deciding when you are going to cook, planning what you are going to cook is essential. Planning out your meals and snacks makes you more prepared and could save you money too. You can ensure that you spread out the different food groups across the week, so everyone gets what they need. If you choose meals on the day you want to cook, you could end up eating carbs all week and missing out on vegetables. Create a schedule so you know what you’re eating each day and who is cooking it.
Make A Shopping List And Stick To It
Planning your meals means it is much easier to buy your groceries. You do not have to keep going to the store to pick up this and that. You can check your supplies, create a list, and shop for it all in one go. The benefit of having a strict shopping list is that you avoid buying the things you do not need. Shop without a list and you could end up walking through the aisles adding cookies, chips, and processed cheese to your shopping cart. Of course, even with a list, you have to be strict with yourself. It can be easier to stick to what you need if you shop online. You can search for the items you need, and avoid looking at products that aren’t on your list.
Make Meals More Colorful
It is not always true, but as a general rule, a colorful meal is a healthy one. Of course, there are many times when you need to watch out for additives and other unhealthy things. But much of the time, if a meal is colorful, it is because it has plenty of vegetables, fruits, or herbs. A dash of color will make a meal look much healthier and get kids used to seeing a variety of colors in their food. If your meal looks a bit beige, throw on some chopped herbs for flavor or add some veggies. It is easy to make a salad to go on the side or cut some bell peppers for garnish.
Cut Down On The Unhealthy Stuff
If you want to make healthier meals for your family, you do not have to change what you cook entirely. You probably have some family favorites that you still want to eat, but could do with being a bit healthier. Changing some ingredients can help to do this, however keep the flavors you love. For example, you can make an effort to use less oil when you cook. Use non-stick frying pans, spray a thin layer of oil, or rely on the fat or oil already in the ingredients you use. Try swapping out or cutting down on salt in some places too, and perhaps replace it with another flavor.
Breakfast can sometimes be the worst meal regarding healthiness for many families. It is often said that it is the most important meal of the day. Although so many of us settle for a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast. Kids and adults deserve a healthy start to the day, so why not come up with some healthy breakfasts? It does not have to be anything that takes a lot of effort. A bowl of porridge with some fruit tastes great. It fills you up and provides slow-release energy throughout the morning. Even the traditional bacon and eggs can give you a nutritious breakfast.
Make Healthier Lunches
If your kids take their lunch to school, it can be all too easy to pack them a plain sandwich or a pre-prepared lunch product. And it is easy for you to grab something from the cafeteria at work. Lunch is an important meal too, to keep you going through the rest of your day. There is no reason it should lack in nutrition or be an expensive item you buy pre-prepared. Think of how you can make lunch healthier and more exciting. It could be by trying out new sandwich fillings or by making other things, such as salads.
There are many ways you can make healthier meals for your family. Even if you are short on time, you can find tricks to improve your diet!