Some of you may be aware that our family is currently participating in Today’s Parent magazine’s Healthy Family Challenge. For just over three months, myself and two other Moms from across Canada are blogging weekly about our efforts to plan better meals and engage in more family-oriented fitness activities (http://www.todaysparent.com/blogs/healthy-family).
Meal planning has always been my challenge. I hope that I’m more the norm than the exception and that many other parents out there find it difficult to get healthy meals on plates at the end of each day.
Although this is a little different than my usual parenting blogs, I wanted to share a few things from the other two moms writing on the challenge that you might helpful from a meal planning perspective. One has done some research into websites that help plan meals and the other has come up with a really neat system in her home for meals (which at this point I must admit is too advanced for me but I aspire to be like her).
Meal planning sites & apps
Supercook.com: It’s a cool site that helps you create meals with what you have at home. You can enter the available ingredients into the search engine and you will get meal options for those ingredients. You can also search recipes, save them to your own list and create shopping lists. And it’s free.
All Recipes.com and Dinner Spinner: The very popular Allrecipes.com site and its app, Dinner Spinner, is another great way to plan out your meals. Dinner Spinner allows you to “spin” your options for mealtimes — you pick the dish type, the main ingredient and the amount of time you want to spend on the meal and it will give you a list of corresponding recipes. The app can also work in tandem with the site where you can access your lists. It offers endless recipe possibilities for meal planning.
Menu Board (from Crystal Allen)
I recently created a menu board system that I wrote about on my blog Sew Creative. Each week, I give my readers a new recipe to add to their own board. Creating a menu board was something that I had wanted to do for a very long time, but it seemed like it would be way too time consuming. Then I came up with a simple solution. Every day, for one month, I wrote down what we ate for dinner on a recipe card. On the left-hand side of the card I listed each of the ingredients that the recipe required. On the bottom of the card I wrote where I could find the recipe (quite often this was from my Pinterest). Then, on the right-hand side of the card I wrote what we needed to dig out of our freezer in the morning. At the end of my first month we had 30 different meals to choose from for dinner. Now I add one or two new recipes a week to keep things new and exciting and pick out old favourites for the other nights. I also have a few cards that have “Leftovers” written on them to slot into nights where I know we will have leftovers from the night before.
Although you’d think I’d already know it, I’ve realized over the past month how completely in control of my kids’ health I am right now. I choose the food, I prep the food, I stock the cupboards and I do the cooking. In addition, my husband and I decide how active the kids are going to be by deciding how we spend our time with them – ie do we head out for a walk or do we sit around and play on the floor in the living room. I wanted to share the info above because I’m finding that anything that can help make a healthy family option easier is definitely a good thing.