The kids are back in school, and schedules are picking back up. Between work, school, homework, sporting events, music lessons, wellness routines, and spending valuable time together, you want to keep your family healthy, too! You know what you need to do: Eat more fresh fruits and veggies. Focus on whole grains and lean proteins. But actually making it happen? It’s sometimes a challenge, especially during the week! Here are three time-saving tips to help your family eat healthy:
- On-the-Go Snacks: For many parents, the biggest challenge when it comes to healthy eating is time. What comes to mind when you think of on-the-go snacks? Bags of chips and cookies? Cans of soda and candy bars? What about nuts, raisins, and whole-grain pretzels? These are easy to grab on the go or keep in the car during the week. You can even pack a small cooler filled with cold water, yogurt, string cheese, carrots, and fresh fruit before picking up the kids from school or practice. There are many nutritious, minimally processed snack food options to choose from. A little preparation can go a long way in helping to keep your kids full between activities and help you avoid the fast food drive-thru.
- Reimagine Weeknight Dinners: The crockpot is a busy parent’s dream! Crockpot recipes can yield dinner for an entire week. All you’ll need to do is pop it in the microwave for a quick, hot dinner. By the way, dinner can be cold, too! That’s right – “cold” is not a typo! On extra busy nights, a simple plate of healthy, nutritious snack foods can get you through. Focus on the nutritious value of the snack foods, and aim to select choices that include your three macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Here are some examples:
- Whole-grain crackers with string cheese, hummus, sliced peppers, carrots, grape tomatoes, and some sliced turkey;
- Apple slices and celery sticks with nut butter (Note: Try sun butter if your child is allergic to nuts. Please check with your physician and read the food label to be sure your child can eat it safely.);
- Low-fat yogurt with berries and whole-grain granola;
I know this might not sound like a “meal” in the traditional sense, but a dinner like this can include protein, whole-grain complex carbohydrates, healthy sources of fats, fiber, calcium, and vitamins! Best of all, you probably already have many of these foods on hand, and it takes less than five minutes to prepare.
- Make Double Batches: I know this sounds like extra work, but just hear me out. On evenings or weekends when you have a bit of extra time, cook up a double batch of that night’s dinner. Put half in a container, label, and freeze. On future busy nights, simply thaw the food, reheat, and serve! This time-saving hack works well on casseroles, soups, meatballs, chili dishes, and more!
Author: Gary Appelsies
Director of Healthy Eating