So, there’s a pretty common question that we get asked by our clients that we feel is worth talking about….
“How should I cook and prepare meals for my family and still stay on plan? They don’t want to eat what I eat”.
Well, you basically have two choices. They’re either eating the same foods that you are OR you’re fixing something entirely different for them.
If you’re like me, having a family and kids means waking up early around 5am, getting lunches packed, breakfast fixed, kids dressed, and the car loaded up with backpacks, lunches and my food cooler, and we’re out the door by 6:20am.
I work most of the day, manage the ins and outs of owning a gym, deal with the occasional sick child (like today) – which means unexpected doctors appointments and pharmacy runs. After school activities include soccer and gymnastics practice, Spanish tutors, homework and cleaning the house, doing laundry and then more work…. annnnd THEN comes dinner.
At this point, I’m opting for simplicity with dinner all while maintaining balance, variety and flavor. And when I say “simplicity” that doesn’t mean it is thrown together, mind you. It also doesn’t mean that I have to prepare something completely different for myself and my family.
I do most of my food prep and meal planning on Sundays. I cook all of my chicken, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, etc. and put them in large Tupperware containers in the refrigerator. This enables me to be able to just scoop out what I need after it’s weighed on meal-to-meal basis or, if I’m away from home all day, on a daily basis. Then I plan meals for my family that are coordinated with what is on my meal plan with different sides and fun options for the kids.
So, if my “dinner time” meal calls for chicken, rice and avocado, I know that I can easily still have chicken and so can my family. I weigh my chicken, quinoa and avocado, fix my plate, and set it aside.
Then I go into the same large container of chicken that I prepped earlier and make plates for the kids. I add some ketchup on the side if they like that, or honey mustard sauce for dipping. I make noodles or they can have some rice I’ve prepped earlier too. I’m lucky in that my boys love vegetables so they always eat the veggies that I’m eating anyway.
Lastly, its no big deal to pop some sweet potato fries or tater tots into the oven for them – something fun that kids love to eat. After all, they’re still kids and while they understand that we choose “healthy foods”, I still maintain a balance of fun treats that they enjoy on their plates WITH the essential healthy foods too. I always make their plates colorful with ketchup smiley faces or little bowls with different colored sauces for dipping. They love that!
My mindset is this: If I’m not trying to complicate our lives any further, and time and health are of the essence, then I’m feeding my family what I’m having with some quick, easy additions and modifications.
The other option is just to fix them something altogether different if I have the time. And, that is a LOT easier to manage if my food is already prepped ahead of time. Then I can spend 35/40 minutes cooking them something special that they’ve asked for.
Remember that you’re modeling good food choices for the family – teach them that eating healthy is a lifestyle choice for the long haul, not just to drop 10 pounds because you’re feeling unhealthy (or whatever the reason may be).
Your children will appreciate and remember the quality time you spend with them talking and being interested. They will not remember the difference between what you had on your plate versus what they had on theirs.
And, hey, if that doesn’t work, and the kids complain, just tell them what my mom told me: “when you’re a grown-up and own a home YOU can eat whatever you want there”.