You may find it difficult to plan and prepare healthy meals for your family, especially if you must contend with picky eaters, long work schedules and your children's dinnertime sports practices. By planning ahead and having healthy foods in the house, you should be able to cook a healthy meal for your family on most days. If you can not commit to a healthful dinner some days, cook a healthy breakfast for your family instead.Step 1
Write down a rough menu plan for the week. If you know, for example, that you are going to have chicken on Monday, pork on Tuesday, homemade pizza on Wednesday, pasta on Thursday and fish on Friday, you will know which day to take what foods out of the freezer to thaw. This will also help you avoid last-minute runs to a fast-food restaurant or to the grocery store to pick up a forgotten ingredient.
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Cook your protein source. If you are cooking meat, opt to bake, broil, roast or grill it instead of frying in oil, recommends KidsHealth. Choose a low-sodium marinade, or make your own with fresh herbs, olive oil and wine or vinegar. Avoid commercial products that are high in salt or sugar.
If you do not want to eat meat, other healthful protein options include eggs, dairy products, soy products like tofu, nuts, beans and legumes, suggests the Savvy Vegetarian.
Prepare a grain product. The University of Iowa Extension suggests foods such as enriched pasta, brown rice, whole-grain bread and tortillas. Choose whole grains whenever possible to increase the fiber in your diet.LIVESTRONG.COM: 5 Ways to Make Italian Dishes Healthier
Serve fresh fruits and vegetables, if possible. You should eat at least five servings of produce per day, says KidsHealth, so eat one to two servings at each meal. If you do not have fresh fruits or vegetables available, prepare frozen or canned foods, preferably without added sugar and salt. Experts at the Mayo Clinic suggest finding new ways to integrate fresh fruit into your meals, such as grilling fruit slices, making fruit smoothies or serving a fruit pizza for breakfast or dessert.Step 5
Offer low-fat or fat-free milk as a beverage to add calcium and protein to everyone's diet. If someone balks at drinking milk, offer water instead; avoid sugary sodas and fruit juices, recommends KidsHealth.LIVESTRONG.COM: How to Eat Healthy as a Family
Tips and Warnings
- If you are not a vegetarian, limit your intake of red meat, suggests the Savvy Vegetarian. Even lean cuts of meat contain saturated fat, pesticides and herbicides from the animal's diet, and not enough fiber. Use your slow cooker to have dinner ready for you when you walk in the door on busy days.
- KidsHealth: Healthy Eating
- MayoClinic.com: Color Your Diet: Fresh Fruit 10 Ways
- University of Iowa Extension: 3 Steps to Quick Healthy Meals
- Savvy Vegetarian: What is Protein? Myths and Facts
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