From the pages of the Baby & Child Care Encyclopedia: Chapter 5, Family Nutrition
Most families have the best intentions when it comes to meal planning but it’s easy to find yourself in the weeds when life gets busy. Families also easily get into food ruts, where they make the same things over and over again, to the point where no one is excited to see the meal served again.
Fear not—there are a few easy ways to combat meal planning fatigue and ditch boredom (and none of them involve spending hours combing Pinterest).
Have a loose meal plan and make sure your fridge, freezer and pantry can accommodate. If your kitchen is always stocked with staples, you’ll have an idea of possible meals week over week. You can also take the “stake in the ground” approach and know exactly what’s for dinner a couple of nights a week, while letting the rest be fluid depending on how work, school and extracurriculars unfold.
Plan for fun. Give your family something to look forward to, whether it’s Taco Tuesday or Pizza Friday. It makes at least one meal a no-brainer, and everyone is excited to come to the table.
Build a list of family favourites. Aim to have at least ten items that you know everyone will eat (even if they only like one part of the meal!). Then go one better—brainstorm ways you can adjust the recipes to make them a little different but still palpable to the gang. For example—does everyone love your mac and cheese recipe? Switch up the types of cheese or consider adding veggies. Or, if stir fry is a meal planning staple, change up the protein or the sauce. For very picky eaters, keep at least one element the same so you know there is something they will eat.
Embrace the picnic supper. Set out plates of cheese, olives, grapes, berries, crudités, cold roasted chicken, deli meats… And everyone makes their plates to their liking! Then you know everyone has something they like from an array of healthy options.
GO TECH-FREE AT THE DINNER TABLEConnection is hard when distractions are abundant. By insisting that phones and screens are turned off during meals (at least a couple of times a week!), you’re way more likely to have quality interactions with your family members.
PARENTSCANADA RECIPE FAVOURITES
If you’re looking for a little inspiration, head on over to our FOOD channel and check out our bank of recipes for everything from snacks and school lunches, to easy weeknight dinners that come together in snap. Some of our favourites include the following:
Introduce nourishing meals at the family table at six months of age to help develop healthy eating habits for life. Visit thinkbeef.ca to learn more. Click HERE to get your FREE copy of the Baby & Child Care Encyclopedia by Parents Canada, courtesy of ThinkBeef.ca. This chapter has been made possible with the help and contribution of Canada Beef.