Meal Planning Tips For Those With Young Children

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

Are you struggling to navigate meal planning for a young family?

Communication is everything.

I like to recommend my clients, when possible, to delegate responsibilities around cooking and groceries with their spouse.

Once you establish who is in charge of what, you can take a closer look at your “ship”.

Every one of us is like a ship, and at some point during the day or week, if there are too many holes in it, the ship it might sink.

So where are your ships holes and how can you fill them?

That’s where a dietitian like myself, and today’s article, comes in.

I encourage you to read through today’s post for some of my best tips and know that I’m here to offer you much more support and guidance – book your FREE 15-minute discovery call to find out how we can work together to keep your ship from sinking!

A few nudges people can start to incorporate into their lives to help “plug” the holes are:

1. Start with one meal time a week and plan out a menu (Pick Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner or Snacks).

When people jump into healthy eating they usually try to take on the whole picture at once. They plan out too much at once and get overwhelmed. You can’t plug every hole at once – so to make healthy long term changes it is important for people to pick one or two holes that they can plug up by making changes.

Pick one area of change (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner or Snacks) and create a week long plan. If the plan works extend it for a 2-weeks and if that works roll it out for a month. Once you have one of the areas mastered and the hole is “plugged” you can move onto the next hole.

2. Cook enough dinner so that you have some leftovers you can use for lunch

When cooking dinner or planning snacks it is important to think about your entire week as a whole. Try to make enough snacks or cook enough at meals so that you can have something to work with the next day for meals. For example you can cook an extra breast of chicken or boil an extra cup of rice to use the next day in a salad.

It is VERY important to know that if you are approaching meals by making more that you set the extra aside. If you set the extra aside before you sit down to your meal than it will lower your chances of eating it all at once.

3. Cut your fruit and vegetables so they are easy to use

I know this one sounds like a no-brainer but make sure you take the time to actually prep your fruit and veggies so they can be easily used. Prechop, peel or wash your fruits and vegetables so you can just reach into the fridge and grab them to eat or throw into a salad or recipe.

4. Get your kids involved

More often than not, you hear parents complain that their kids won't eat anything, they're picky and they press their mouths closed at the thought of trying a new food. One of the easiest ways to get kids to become better eaters is by getting them involved in the cooking process. Getting kids involved doesn’t have to wait -- Make sure that your kids feel involved at every age. It is easy to incorporate different aspects of learning into the kitchen – reading, writing, math, fine and gross motor skill development.

1. Take them grocery shopping with you. Let them pick out a new fruit, vegetable or meat to try.

2. Look through cookbooks and recipe websites together – pick websites and cookbooks with lots of pictures. Have the kids choose a few recipes they would like to try making.

3. Assign age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen, like measuring ingredients, pressing the button on the food processor or being in charge of the kitchen timer.

4. Taste everything together. Talk about the colors, textures and flavors of ingredients. Then talk about how they're different after being cooked.

5. Start them out young in the kitchen. Give babies and toddlers wooden spoons and measuring cups to play with, as well as appropriate foods to gum or snack on.

6. Provide the kids with their own special tools. This way anytime they go into the kitchen they have their own special mixing spoon to use or their own set of colorful measuring cups.

7. Enable your kids with access to healthy snacks in the fridge. Make sure that healthy snacks are not only available at your eye level but also at their eye level.

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