If your family likes to eat the same foods all the time, or you find yourself turning to take-out, pizza delivery or prepared foods, you’re not alone. Many parents find it challenging to prepare affordable, nutritious and tasty food that appeals to everyone in the household. If you’re stuck in a rut or ready to start some better dietary habits for your family, try these meal tips to improve your family’s health.
Don’t Buy Junk
You control the supply of food that enters your home. If willpower is a problem, don’t buy junk food. If you want to limit how much junk your family eats, only buy one treat per week. For example, buy one pint of ice cream instead of the gallon bucket. The pint contains four servings, and when it’s gone, that’s it for the week. By stopping the purchase of prepared food, snacks and treats, you won’t have to worry about eating the whole container of it. Reserve treats for special occasions, such as a birthday. While you’re at it, remove the salt shaker from the table and replace it with a sodium-free seasoning.
Let the Kids Pick What They Eat
When the food in your refrigerator, freezer and cupboards is healthy, you can feel confident allowing your kids to choose what they eat. You won’t have to police them when the only options are healthy ones. You’ll also be able to avoid most arguments about food. Have a variety of fruits and vegetables. Have whole grain bread, low-fat dairy and lean proteins available. If a child wants to have a cheese sandwich for breakfast or a bowl of fruit with yogurt for lunch, this won’t be a problem. If you don’t want your child free-ranging in the refrigerator, offer options. You could ask them if they want an apple or a banana with their lunch.
Include the Family in Meal Planning
Make meal planning a family activity. Sit together and make a list of everyone’s favorite meals. Be sure to include one from each person every week. If your kids love pizza, they can help prepare it. Even pizza can be healthy when lots of vegetables and lean meats are added to it. Try new recipes on a regular basis. Rotate favorites in and out of your meal plan each month.
Be a Role Model
Be a role model in everything you do. When you want your child to have a regular bedtime, you should also snuggle into your comfortable bed at the same time every day. The same is true with food. When your child sees you making healthy choices, they’re more likely to do the same. These healthy choices in sleep routines and diet make a huge difference in their development.
Eat together as often as you can. Busy schedules, long work hours and school activities often get in the way. You can still eat healthy foods even if you don’t have a lot of time. Consider freezer cooking on weekends in order to free up your time on weekdays.
Serve Proper Portion Sizes
Eating family-style encourages overeating. It’s wise to measure the correct portion size for each person’s age. Put the proper portion on their plate. If a child eats it all and is still hungry, then they can have seconds.