Posted: Feb 26, 2013
“My husband is a real ‘meat and potatoes’ eater’; my 15-year old is a vegetarian and my 12-year old is a picky eater with a big appetite. I try to eat just about anything to keep things simple. To top it off, we have to take the kids to soccer and piano practice three nights a week. How can I possibly plan healthy meals for my family and myself?”
Sound familiar? Our responsibilities and commitments, together with different food preferences, put a real strain on meal planning. Is there an answer? Absolutely!
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
A little planning goes a long way. When you walk in the door hungry and tired after a long day’s work, and there’s nothing planned for dinner, it’s tempting to just order a pizza or go out for a quick burger and fries. On the other hand, it’s a great feeling coming home knowing that the chicken is marinated and ready to grill, the vegetables are cut up, and last night’s rice pilaf is ready to heat up.
PLAN SOME MORE
Take a little time on the weekend to plan your week’s menus and make sure you have all the ingredients that you need. Look at your family’s activities for the week and plan when you’ll be eating at home and when you might have to eat out or on the road. Don’t forget to organize some help too—everyone in the family can help with meal planning, preparation and clean-up!
MAKE A LIST OF YOUR FAMILY’S FAVOURITE MEALS
Have each family member write down three or four of their favourite meals. Choose meal options that can be easily changed to meet everyone’s likes and dislikes. Try “make-your-own” meals such as salads, sandwiches or soft tacos where you put out the healthy ingredients and everyone creates their own meal to their liking. Keep recipes on hand, along with a shopping list of the foods needed to prepare the meals. This will make your shopping much simpler.
If you’re making a stew, soup, chili, lasagna or other casserole, double the recipe and freeze the extras for another day. Don’t forget to label and date it to avoid ‘mystery freezer food’!
KEEP A WELL-STOCKED PANTRY
You can put together a quick healthy meal if you have healthy ingredients available. Keep a supply of foods such as low sodium canned tuna, salmon, veggies and legumes, whole grains such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, barley and bulgur, canned fruits with no added sugar, and whole grain breads and buns.
TIP: Check out our for suggestions for a well-stocked pantry, fridge and freezer.
STOCK YOUR FRIDGE AND FREEZER TOO
Keep eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, and fresh fruits and vegetables in the fridge for cooking and quick snacks. Stock your freezer with frozen fruits and vegetables, and plain, unseasoned fish, poultry, and meats to make nutritious and satisfying meals in a hurry.
MAKE ENJOYMENT A PRIORITY
Healthy food is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Try to plan time for you and your family to sit down together for a relaxing meal. Catch up on your day and enjoy lively conversation while you nourish yourself with great food.
For some nutritious and delicious quick meal ideas, check out these dietitian-approved recipes from Dietitians of Canada.