If your kitchen looked anything like mine this holiday season, there was a constant stream of cookies and pies, rich sauces and fatty meats, chips, dips, cheeses, crackers, and candies—oh my!
It was delightful and delicious, but we’ve had our fill.
Now that the gifts have been unwrapped, the halls un-decked, and the goodies consumed, it’s time to right this ship and incorporate more consistent, nutritious offerings back into our family meal plan.
You too? Here are five basic steps to take to get your family meals back on track.
Wait, what? Trust me, the last thing you’re going to feel like doing after ordering and putting away all-new groceries is cooking. Rather than having to order a pizza later, start dinner early by putting on your favorite slow-cooker meal or preparing a delicious casserole dish that only needs to be put in the oven. Your evening self will thank you.
Make a List
Take a moment to consider the healthy options your family members enjoy for each meal. Children’s preferences tend to change over time. If you’ve got a list of what works right now for your family, grocery shopping will be easy peasy. Finish with a master list of potential breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.
Before you hit the grocery store, however, give the kitchen a good cleaning. Go through the fridge, the freezer, and the pantry. Make sure you’ve got working spaces that store what you’ll be using, and create a system for packed lunches, snacks on the go, and beverage storage.
Get rid of foods that don’t support your nutritional aims by donating to a local food bank. Discard any items that have expired or spoiled.
Now that you’ve got a clean kitchen and functional storage space, create a meal plan for the coming week or two ahead. What will your family eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? What healthy snacks will you have on hand?
Think of what your family’s schedule looks like in the coming days and what meals would best support them (and be most feasible to prepare).
Think of ways to make meal preparation as easy as possible for yourself. You may batch-prepare a number of meals with similar ingredients in one shot. (Monday’s chicken cutlets can easily become Wednesday’s chicken parmigiana.) If you have a pressure cooker or a slow cooker, perhaps a meal or two can be prepared that way.
Once you’ve got your plan, it’s time to ensure you’ve got the ingredients you need to make it happen. Don’t forget about spices, condiments, beverages, and pantry ingredients that may have been depleted during the holiday season.
Especially if this is going to be a large shopping order, using an online grocery service is probably your best bet. You can take your time consulting your plan to make sure you’re getting everything you need.
Once you’ve got your groceries, store them strategically. Wash and prep fruits and veggies that you want your family to be able to grab on the go. Store plenty of healthy beverages in your fridge. Put healthy snacks in places everyone can reach. Consider the common elements you use for packed lunches, and ensure they’re easily accessible and ready to be quickly assembled.
As you sit with your family enjoying the healthy meal you prepared earlier and looking around at your cleaned and fully-stocked kitchen, give yourself a pat on the back and know that you’re all set for a healthy new year.