Now that the school season is in full swing, you may have found that it’s getting harder for everyone to sit down to the table at the same time. There’s sports practice, PTA meetings and work, which often conflict and make a 6:30 p.m. dinner seem painfully unattainable.
It’s not only hard to get everyone’s tush seated at the same time, it’s also a challenge for parents (most of whom have just worked a long day) to cook a healthy meal and get it on the table in time. The parents I know feel guilty serving anything that’s “convenient,” but they’re strapped for time and feel stressed about making something from scratch that their kids will actually eat. Here’s my advice—find a happy medium. That means offering your family plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and making dinners from scratch as much as you can, but knowing that it’s also OK to lean on some packaged items that make dinner super easy and also offer up good nutrition.
OK, so how does this actually translate to a healthy dinner? Each week, plan out three to four meals that you’re going to actually cook, and then shop for another three to four that you’re going to assemble. Yes, even though I’m a cookbook author, it doesn’t mean I cook a whole meal from scratch every night. There’s something called sanity! But, I do always make sure that each meal includes a protein, a vegetable, a grain and a source of calcium. That can translate to:
· Rotisserie chicken + organic frozen broccoli florets + quinoa + milk
· Mini whole wheat pizzas with sauce, veggies and cheese (buy the fresh or frozen pizza dough at the store)
· Chicken and vegetable dumplings + organic frozen stir fry mix + mini yogurt parfaits with fruit for dessert
I also keep boxes of macaroni and cheese on hand. It’s no surprise that my kids love it, and there are so many fun ways you can make it and add nutritional bonuses to it. One thing my family likes to do is create a mac and cheese bar where they can make their own creations. Give everyone a serving of hot mac and cheese and then let them add their own steamed broccoli florets, cubed chicken, diced red bell pepper, peas and anything else that sounds good. And once your kids create their own masterpiece (the more color, the better), they’ll be more likely to eat it up. We like using Horizon Super Mac, who I’m sponsored by, which is super tasty, made with organic pasta and cheese, and has 12 grams of protein per serving.
Family meals are definitely important, but sometimes schedules just don’t allow everyone to get together for dinner. That’s fine. What is important is finding some time that works for at least part of the family—even if that means that it’s mom and her son sitting down to share breakfast at 6:30 a.m.
Posted on Wed, October 8, 2014
by Frances Largeman-Roth filed under