Kate loves to cook…
She loves to glean inspiration from famous TV chefs like Ina Garten and Giada De Laurentiis. She runs to the grocery store a few times a week to pick up specialty items and try out new recipes. It’s a fun and creative outlet.
Fast forward a few years…
Toss a few kids into the picture along with a growing home-business and you’ll soon find Kate with a minivan full of “starving” kids after dance class and before a business engagement.
Kate’s become a master at tossing together sandwiches, warming up boxed meals or grabbing fast food on the go.
Her clothes don’t fit anymore and she can’t even remember the last time she cooked a healthy meal for her family. It’s depressing each time she scoops the takeout containers out of her car and refrigerator.
How did things get so out of hand?
Kate isn’t a real person, but I’ll bet she sounds at least somewhat familiar.
(I’ve been Kate more often than I’d care to admit.)
How about you?
Recently my readers answered a survey about meals and meal planning. Here are some of the answers I received…
“I really need [meals to be] simple and healthy.”
“I need help keeping meals interesting and different but also healthy.”
“Grocery shopping drives me crazy!”
“My kids are picky eaters! I don’t know how to get them to eat healthy.”
Meal planning, cooking and getting kids to eat can be a tedious and frustrating chore.
Here are five simple tips that will help keep the local pizza delivery guy’s visits down to a minimum.
Before you read the tips…
Try This! Download this free “Time Saving Meal Plan Worksheet” to jumpstart your new simple and healthy meal plan!
5 Tips for Simple, Healthy and Family-friendly Meal Plans
1. Get Inspired…
Yes, we all need a motivation when it comes to tackling something we are not thrilled about. Trying to create quick and healthy meals that are appealing to the whole family feels like a daunting task.
Get inspired by others. Watching others do what we want to do is highly motivating. It’s the whole reason Food Network, HGTV and Pinterest are so popular. They are inspiring.
Try this! Schedule a little YOU time and plop yourself down on the couch with your favorite drink. Turn the Food Network on, grab a delish magazine like Good Housekeeping and search Pinterest on your tablet. YEP I am telling you to multitask. Make it enjoyable.
2. Make It Healthy…
You find a delish recipe that you know your family will love. You scan the recipe and realize it’s loaded with fat and not-so-healthy ingredients. Mouth still watering, you scrap the recipe. There is no way you’re cooking that! (Even though you’d LOVE to eat it.)
Wait! Before you scrap it take it to the Pinterest or Google search bar and type the word “healthy” before the name of the recipe.
Want to make chicken parmesan? Go to the search box and type “Healthy Chicken Parmesan.” If your family has an allergy or sensitivity, type “allergy free” before the recipe name.
Try this! You can probably find an alternative to any recipe out there. Just go searching for it. You can also put an ingredient in the search and find a healthier replacement that will work great.
3. Plan with the same ingredients…
Using the same ingredient in more than one recipe allows you to cook up extra and use it later. Saves money at the store too.
For example, cook up some dried chickpeas (cooking them at home is so much more flavorful than the canned version). Cook enough to use some in salads, make a batch of hummus and toast them for snacks. There you have an ingredient for dinner (salad), lunch (hummus) and snacks (toasted).
Another time-saving trick is to crockpot enough chicken breasts to use for dinner and make a chicken salad for lunch. Do the same with turkey or beef.
For breakfast, bake a batch of healthy muffins and granola on the weekend. Then you can alternate oatmeal, muffins and granola during the week. (YES! Bye-bye sugary cereals!)
Try this! We usually have Applegate Farms chicken sausages at breakfast for extra protein. The mornings we have muffins I’ll fry up a couple apples with a tiny bit of healthy oil like sunflower oil and a little water. Sprinkle some cinnamon on it and yum!
4. Use your crockpot…
Time to take that old wedding gift out of the cupboard and use it!
This handy little device will save you TONS of time! Make all sorts of healthy one pot wonders, side dishes and use it for things like cooking up legumes or meats and even bread!
My favorite blog for crockpot recipes is www.365daysofcrockpot.com
Try this! You can prep all or most of your food on the weekend and then just dump the stuff in the crockpot every morning. Then you’re done!
5. Plan. But don’t just plan, PLAN TO EAT…
In my early days of being a housewife and mama I’d whip up whatever sounded good that night for dinner. That worked great until I my kids got a little older, started new activities and I started a business at home.
There just wasn’t time or energy for me to be spontaneous with my meals. (It usually meant I was ordering out a lot. Hello 10 pounds and no more fun money.)
Let’s be real. The fact is it’s expensive and not healthy to eat out all the time.
So I started my quest for the “perfect” meal plan. I tried many different plans, even created my own. You can see my recent video HERE to hear my story and history of meal plans.
Try this! Meal plans work when you find a system that works for you. This meal planner makes YOU feel like super mom. Read my blog post on how Plan To Eat revolutionized meal planning for me and many of the moms I work with. Read it HERE.
BONUS TIP! Season Your Picky Eater: 3 Tips On Getting Your Picky Eater To Eat
Yeah, you know we all have one. Whether it’s the hubby, the son, daughter or, GASP, it might even be YOU!
Here are three ideas to try for your picky kiddo (might even work on the hubby).
1. The Seasoned Eater. Dipping sauces, herb bowls, salt & pepper. When cooking, set aside a portion of the meal out without seasoning. Let your picky eater mix up their own seasonings or dips. This way they flavor their own food. Let them experiment. Maybe cinnamon and sugar looks gross on mashed potatoes to you but it might inspire them to try new things! This tip works particularly well for those who have more than one picky eater in the house.
2. The Three Bite Rule. One bite to see if the mouth likes it, one bite to see if the tummy likes it, third bite to see if they agree. Having them eat three bites won’t make them love the food but it will introduce new flavors and season their palate. It will help them acquire new tastes.
3. Prep & Plan Together. Let your picky eater pick one meal to help you plan, shop and or cook with you. If they are a part of the process it often helps them try the three bite rule without a fuss.
Mama take notice! In some cases of picking eating it may be more than just a behavior or taste issue. You may be dealing with a Sensory Processing Disorder. Don’t be alarmed, this info is to help you deal with it positively. This information is to help you if you are at your wits end. Learn more at the SPD Foundation www.spdfoundation.net/about-sensory-processing-disorder
So what do you think?
Are you inspired and ready to plan and cook some healthy meals? Cheers and Blessings!
XO, Natalie Hixson
“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” Psalm 20:4 NIV