How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan For Your Family

Creating a healthy family meal plan may seem overwhelming at first. If you find yourself to be overwhelmed when planning your family meal plan there are a few tips that will help you get control of your dinnertime chaos. Once you realize the time, money and stress you will save by incorporating a family meal plan into your household you will be hooked.

Here are some tips that will help you get your healthy family meal plan created.

Get your family involved. Gather your family together and take the opportunity to let everyone have some say in what is for dinner. This will give your family a role in deciding what is for dinner and help them realize how much work goes into planning and preparing for dinner.
Don’t plan meals that you will not have time to prepare. If you have a hectic schedule then make sure you plan quick and easy meals. If you only have 30 minutes to prepare a meal then don’t plan a meal that will take more than that to prepare.
Take advantage of the “cook once, eat twice” logic. If you are making roasted chicken on Monday and know you will have extra then simply plan a meal for later in the week using the left over roasted chicken. This will cut down on some preparation time and will save money by utilizing the left over chicken.
Plan a soup and salad day on hectic days. Soups and salads are easy to prepare and will be an easy meal to serve on the days you know you will be tired.

While starting a meal plan may be overwhelming at first you will be happy once it is completed. After you get several meal plans done you can use them over and over again on rotation. It will be much easier knowing what you are making for dinner and be able to look forward to taking away the dinnertime stress that exists when there is not a healthy family meal plan. Besides saving money, time and stress you will find it so much more enjoyable to sit down around the table and eat a healthy meal with your family.

Healthy Meals 24/7

Wouldn’t you feel great if you had healthy and delicious meals throughout the day, every day of the week? Of course you would, but for most of us preparing healthy meals seems too difficult, time consuming, and intimidating. Well, I’m here to tell you that the secret to having healthy meals on hand anytime and every time is planning and having healthy food staples. Let’s be honest, most of us spend more time planning a night out than we do our planning our meals for the week and are more concerned about the staples in our wardrobe than the staples in our pantry. So, it’s time to shift your priorities and efforts if you are serious about making healthy lifestyle changes in your diet and in your life.

Healthy Meal Planning: Groceries
Purchasing healthy foods takes not more time or effort that buying pre-package, processed, unhealthy foods, and while some healthy foods may require cooking and/or preparation time, aren’t you and your family worth it? When you shop at the supermarket, or receive your grocery delivery you want to see a rainbow of colors in your produce, a variety of whole grains, and lean, healthy proteins. If you find that because of your schedule fresh fruits and vegetables go bad purchase frozen or canned. I personally love frozen greens like collards and kale and I always have canned beans and pumpkin, and marinated artichoke hearts on hand. If you and/or your family are used to having frozen processed foods, sugary, calorie laden sweets and unhealthy snacks you want to gradually replace and remove these items from your diet. For example, switch from regular chips to baked chips, regular popcorn for low-fat popcorn, regular soda for flavored seltzer, full fat ice cream for lite or reduced fat. For a quick, healthy breakfast have whole grain cereals, breads and waffles on hand. Lunches can alternate between healthy, home-made brown bag and healthier take-out options that are offered with whole grains and whole grain breads, as well as with sushi and salads (go easy on the dressing, cheeses, crispy chicken, bacon, etc.). For healthy snacks be sure to stock up on nuts, dried and fresh fruit, and yogurt. And as always, be aware of portion sizes. Eating healthier is not a green light to over eat.

Healthy Meal Planning: Staples
In order to able to toss together a quick healthy meal anytime, you must have essential staples on hand. First are the fresh groceries that you have already stocked your refrigerator with, second are the staples that you should have in your pantry and/or cabinets. Some essential pantry staples are:

Canned fish and vegetables- Canned fishes like salmon and tuna provide omega-3 fatty acids and add a protein punch to sandwiches, salads, and pasta. Canned and marinated vegetables like canned tomatoes, pumpkin and marinated mushrooms and artichokes help transform an ordinary grain, soup, or sauce into a more flavorful, exciting meal, plus they’re chock-full of nutrients.

Whole Grains- Experiment with different grains like barley, bulgur wheat, quinoa, millet, and brown rice, which is also available in long and short grain, and basmati. Whole wheat and quinoa pastas are great for a quick, healthy and filling dinner. Mix things up and use assorted shapes and sizes of pasta with a varied combination of vegetables and lean proteins.