One of the commitments of longevity is to get involved with your community. While this can mean spending time with friends and neighbors, your family is a community that you are involved with every day. Research shows that having the whole family together during meals can increase children’s self-esteem and improve school success. There is also evidence that children tend to choose healthier meal options when they eat at home. Mealtime can also offer a place where family members come together and checks -in, which can give you a good idea of how everyone is doing.
Part of being a good parent means prioritizing the health of your family, which includes providing healthy foods. While it may seem overwhelming and daunting, healthy meals can be prepared with ease and without stress while providing major benefits for the whole family for everyone. Here are some tips to help with healthy eating that the whole family can enjoy together.
1. Plan and Prep
Having a game plan will decrease the stress surrounding meal prep and can be cost-effective as well. Create a menu at the beginning of the week for all your meals – your family can even get involved at this point and suggest meals they would be willing to try. Once you have a menu, create a shopping list with the ingredients you will need. , and Ttry to do all to get your shopping done at one time to help you stay within budget.
When it comes to actually prepping, find a system that works for you. For more tips, be on the lookout for our Meal Prep 101 blog, coming next week!
2. Involve the Kids in Cooking
Cooking can be a big job, especially when preparing for a big crowd. However, your children (aka little helpers) can help relieve the burden. When children are involved in the prep they will be excited to sit at the table, show off their skills, and eat more of the food they’ve helped prepare. Involving children in food prep has been shown to improve eating patterns and dietary habits.
Smaller children can pour measured ingredients into a bowl, mix salads and place veggies on a tray. If you have teens or adolescents at home, they can do more advanced tasks like chop and cook ingredients. If you have consulted talked to your family for their about meal ideas, it will be much easier to get them into the kitchen to help!
3. Pack a Vegetable Punch
“Eat your vegetables.” Children are just as tired of hearing it as parents are of saying it. So sSave your breath and get the family to eat their veggies by staying in their comfort zone and adding it to dishes they like. Veggies can be a delicious addition to pizza, pasta, and sandwiches for any meal. Cutting up raw vegetables into sticks or other shapes, along with a dipping sauce, can turn a healthy snack into something exciting for the family.
Have a pile of leftover veggies? Check out our blog on how to repurpose them in tasty and nutritious ways!
4. Try, Try, and Try Again
Children, younger ones especially, can be very sensitive to taste, texture, and temperature. To a parent, this may come across as being a picky eater. In reality, children may need to be exposed to a food 10-15 times to develop a preference for it. So don’t give up if you’re met with defeat the first time!
If you’re trying a new recipe or ingredient, present it alongside foods you know your family likes. Encourage trying something new, but never force or bargain to get them to try it. After many exposures, your family may discover new preferences and even thank you for introducing them to foods they never knew they liked!
5. Be a Good Role Model
This may be the most important tip. When it comes to food, if you’re eating it, your children will probably want to eat it too. Children are copycats- they want to do what the adults are doing. Be a role model for your family by trying new healthful foods and making smart choices when it comes to meals and snacks. The best way to encourage healthy eating habits is by creating them for yourself first.
While parenting and being the chef at home can be a rewarding experience, there may also be bumps along the way. It can be challenging to make delicious and nutritious food that everyone enjoys. Sometimes getting the family all together for a sit-down dinner seems like an almost impossible feat. As women are often at the center of their family’s wellbeing, we hope moms out there can use these tips to ease the burden of mealtimes. However, you don’t have to be a mom to take advantage! Use these tips to improve your skills or support whoever is the primary cook at home.
However you’re tackling meals and whoever you’re eating with, we hope this blog has helped provide you ideas and remind you of the importance of coming together as a family. At N4L our first commitment is always to the health of our community and we hope you can take steps to improve the health of your community at home.