Healthy eating in today's fast-food fast-paced life used to be really frustrating for feeding our family of 7.
Feeling the time constraints of homework and extra activities, and the children keep on asking you...
"Mommy, what's for supper?"
"Mom, I'm Hungry!"
"Can I have some food?"
You sit and spend 30 minutes asking yourself the same question and struggling to decide what healthy meal could you quickly make.
Before you know it an hour has gone by and all that you've done is put the oven on because you are so sure that you will probably need to use it.
Here are our 7 practical tips that we believe will save your family time and money, and still keep a balanced healthy eating lifestyle.
Practical tip #1: Food Schedule
Make a day-by-day detailed food schedule for the week. This will give you an itemized grocery list which will save you time and frustrations on each day's food preparation.
Practical tip #2: Grocery List
Write up a shopping list and Stick to your shopping list and keep it on your agreed budget. Just having a list in my hand directed my thinking to keep on task, become more time efficient and saved time and money by not veering off of the list. Paying with cash or a restricted cash card on our 'grocery day' helped us to reduce small impulsive purchases and save some extra money.
Practical tip #3: Impulse Buying
Reducing impulse buying can save you your valuable time and money. We noticed that we made immediate savings on our budget and time when we stopped our mid week 'running' to the store. My husband and I worked together by making one planned shopping run for the week.
Practical tip #4: Labels
Get to know your vitamins and read those labels. You don't need to be an expert, we certainly were not, but we needed to have a better idea of what foods contain. Healthy eating starts with knowing what's all in the ingredients you and your family are using in your meal plans. Reading labels really helped us to plan our food schedule, our shopping list and work towards building healthier eating habits.
Practical tip #5: Food Fun
Add presentation and story telling to eating your healthy meals. This does take a bit of time and imagination but the fun story telling conversations at the dinner table are well worth it. We have had a great time with catching butterflies, eating snails, and plates with happy faces, smiles and sunsets.
Forget trying to get your kids to eat their veggies with "Eat your Vegetables!" Bring on the stories. "Oh no! your peas are getting away--Get'em quick before they run off your plate!" We loved using broccoli as a whole tree that needed to be eaten one branch at a time. Have Fun!
Here are a few sample recipes and pictures to get you started:
Practical tip #6:
Making Meals Together
Making meals together allows the children to take ownership and have some family fun. They learn about healthy eating and helping each other as they work together as a family team. Choose some meals that are easy and quick for you to prepare and that you can work together on. We have had great family times together with our children making pizzas, calzones, enchilada wraps, homemade burgers , spaghetti, meatballs or try our specialty homemade fries and potato wedges money savers to say the least. Baking can also be a lot of fun. We enjoy baking from scratch homemade cinnamon swirls , muffins, cookies and other snacks and deserts.
Our homemade french toast recipe with a delicious cinnamon twist as a breakfast casserole is a great Saturday morning activity that we enjoy making and eating together.
Some of our family favorite cookie recipes are chewy chocolate chip , chocolate candies m&m's , peanut butter, tasty oatmeal raisin and reeces pieces. We love baking them together, and you guessed it--they don't last long, they taste great and we know exactly what we have put into them.
Three of our family members have Celiac a gluten intolerance, quite a challenge to eat foods and snacks without any gluten, but here is a tasty and healthy gluten free muffin recipe with bananas you will love.
Practical tip #7: Home Cooking
Home cooking can benefit your family by saving you money without costing you more of your time. We have fun working together and making meals together like our Bauern Fruhstuck--a great breakfast recipe we often make for dinner and you and your family are sure to enjoy. Breakfast is a great start to your day and some healthy breakfast and brunch recipes can help you add fresh fruit, oatmeal, smoothies, and more to your healthy eating meal plan. Working and preparing meals together keeps daily communication open and having some regular one on one time. Working together with our kids preparing lots of easy recipes from home have quickly developed for us into great opportunities to teaching values, principals and respect for each other.
We see home cooking as a preventative medicine for our family in keeping a healthy and balanced eating lifestyle. Let's stop relying so much on the processed food industry and plan on adding some of our own homemade cooking into our weekly schedules. With a little forward planning we can make better healthy eating alternatives while knowing exactly what is going into our meals. Working together as parents and supporting each other we can help our children and families develop healthier eating habits that they will take with them throughout their lives.