Back to School: Healthy Meal Planning Tips for Families On the Go
With school back in session, juggling all of your to-do’s plus your kids’ school schedule and extracurricular activities can be overwhelming. Once you finally make it home, the last thing you want to do is go to the grocery store and cook for the family. Many of us will take the easy way out and get take-out for dinner, which can easily turn into an unhealthy habit. Planning ahead and preparing meals before the week starts is a healthy solution to back-to-school chaos.
The list of tips for healthy meal planning is never-ending, which is why we’ve compiled a few that will help you kick start your week!
1. Review your family calendar.
Before planning your weekly meals, consider everyone’s schedule. Do your kids have a soccer game, recital, or other after-school activity? Do you have a family dinner scheduled with your parents? Once you know what the week looks like, you can plan accordingly.
2. Think outside of the fryer.
We can agree that kids typically prefer unhealthy foods that are filled with fat and sugar. Luckily, there are healthy alternatives to your little one’s favorite foods: breaded chicken, pizza, hot dogs, and hamburgers.
3. Incorporate seasonal fruits and veggies.
Take advantage of the seasonal produce and incorporate your favorites into your dishes. Seasonal fruits can make delicious desserts such as a fruit salad or healthy fruit tart: Your little ones will be begging for seconds! For an up-to-date seasonal produce guide for healthy meal planning, check out the United States Department of Agriculture’s list.
4. Create a few weekly dinner menus.
Create a month’s worth of weekly menus and repurpose them for the next month. You can mix and match and add your favorite spices to change it up! We recommend starting theme nights, such as chicken night, turkey night, meatless night, pasta night, etc. You can begin building out your list of favorite recipes for each theme so you’ll always have options.
5. Slow cookers!
Every busy parent’s best friend! There’s nothing better than cooking all of your ingredients in one pot while you complete your long list of to-do’s around the house. From chicken to soup to desserts, is there anything a slow cooker can’t do? Here are a few of our favorite recipes:
6. Portion your food wisely.
The answer to portion control is in the palm of your hands! Avoid over-indulging om foods and use your hand to portion your meals. This is also a great way to portion your meals when you eat out. People are likely to overeat when meals are presented large portions. Split your portions and take home the leftovers.
7. Choose recipes that are easy.
When doing healthy meal planning, find recipes that allow easy prep or can be made beforehand. Some of our favorite recipes that don’t require a lot of prep include:
Choose one day during the week to prepare the week’s meals. This includes grocery shopping, washing and chopping fruits and veggies, and preparing meat. This will save you time during your jam-packed week.
Getting back into the rhythm of your kids’ school schedule can be difficult. By simply planning ahead, you will free up time to help your kids with homework, read your favorite book, or just relax! For more tips, check out Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups’ articles.