Feeding our families shouldn’t feel like walking through a minefield. When we’re not navigating the grocery store shelves, or trying to decipher the confusing or misleading food labels, we’re navigating the classroom party full of sugary offerings, the after-school activity (with snack, of course), or the playdate where they’re giving out juice boxes and fruit snacks like, well, candy!
When we’re strapped for time (a.k.a. always) and need to come up with dinner, those less than ideal options from the frozen food section or (gasp!) the fast-food drive through begin to sound like good ideas.
We really do want to feed our families healthy, nutritious meals, though. Does this have to be this hard?
Here are six expert tips to make healthy family eating more attainable.
David Ludwig, MD, PhD, author of “Ending the Food Fight” says the first step should be “doing a ‘clean sweep’ of unhealthy foods in your household and replacing them with vibrant, tasty (preferably organic) whole-food alternatives,” according to Experience Life. After all, if the junk ain’t there, they can’t eat it.
No Family Style
The editors at EatThis.com recommend doing away with the serving dishes at the dining table. “A study in the journal Obesity found that when food is served family-style, people consume 35 percent more over the course of their meal. Instead, keep food on the stove or counter and spoon it out onto plates from there,” they advise.
One Ingredient at a Time
Avoiding processed foods is key. One way to look at this is as livestrong.com puts it, “Purchase single-ingredient foods.”
“Single-ingredient foods, including meat, fruits, and vegetables are usually less expensive than purchasing processed foods, and far more inexpensive than eating out,” according to the website.
When you’re really in a pinch and need to pick up food that is ready to go, follow the lead of nutritionist Jennifer Hunt at healthy-inspiration.com. Head to the grocery store and “grab a large family salad with a rotisserie chicken for a meal that is ready to go!”
Opt for Convenience
Convenience doesn’t always mean unhealthy. According to afineparent.com, “frozen vegetables are roughly as good for you as fresh vegetables—better, if the vegetable is out of season or doesn’t grow near you.” What’s more, frozen fruits and vegetables also tend to be picked at the peak of ripeness compared to fresh produce which is often picked early, to make up for the time it takes to get to the store.”
One hour a week can wind up saving time, according to wellnessmama.com. “Meal planning lets you decide before you ever go to the grocery store what healthy meals your family is going to eat during a given week so that you can only purchase healthy foods and know that you will use them. If you’re switching to a healthier diet, meal planning is especially important to help you stick to it while you learn the ropes.”