This post was featured on TODAY Parenting Team‘s site.
How many times have you heard the question “Mom, what’s for dinner”? And how many times did your mind draw a complete blank? I am sure this led to a total panic because one of our main responsibilities as parents is to make sure our kids are happily fed–a job that never seems to end.
Keeping healthy, interesting meals coming out of our kitchen can be a stressful endeavor. Sometimes we just don’t feel inspired to whip up that perfect creation that will please everyone sitting around the dinner table.
Reducing stress around mealtime is two-fold: being able to prepare the food easily and providing the right healthy foods that can keep our children calm and balanced.
How To Create Healthy, Stress-Busting Meals For Your Kids
An important way to overcome stress and anxiety is through a healthy diet. Some foods are known to help reduce stress, actually giving us a sense of calm. On the other hand, there are certain types of foods that can trigger anxious feelings like fried foods, high glycemic carbohydrates (e.g., white bread, pretzels, potatoes), unrefined sugars, and caffeine. You will definitely want to keep these foods out of your mealtime repertoire if you want happy, relaxed kids in your home.
Furthermore, you will want to make sure your children are eating a well-balanced diet and able to make their own healthy choices when you are not around to guide them. The best way to figure out what should be on their plate at mealtime is to explore the United States Department of Agriculture’s Choose My Plate resource. The guidelines highlighted in the new plate icon are based on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans released in January 2016.
On the website, your kids can learn about healthy food choices through fun games, activities, videos, and songs. You can explore many printables like meal checklists, daily calorie guidelines, recipes, snack ideas, and tips for being a healthy role model to your children. They even have a Yummy Curriculum for schools.
How To Stop Stressing About Meal Preparation
It can be overwhelming to plan healthy meals for your family week after week after week. It is hard to stay motivated to come up with fresh ideas that they will love. Then add in all the shopping and prep time; it is just not always a reality for many busy families.
Imagine if you had a simple program on your iPad or computer that would help you figure out what to cook every day. Healthy Kids Inc. has an amazing tool to allow you to incorporate healthy meals for your family into your hectic schedule. It’s seriously as easy as 1…2…3.
STEP ONE: Plan
The Healthy Kids Inc. meal planning tool is so simple. You just drag and drop recipes to fill your meal planning calendar based on search criteria like gluten free, nut free, or vegetarian. Each recipe also has detailed nutritional facts to help you make your choices. There are hundreds of options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. You also have the ability to add in your own recipes. The program is unique because it allows you to build a healthy, customizable meal plan that works best for your taste and schedule.
STEP TWO: Shop
Have you ever wandered around the grocery store with no clue what you should buy? Or have your ever come home with groceries but had no idea what you were going to do with them? Never again! The Healthy Kids Inc. meal planning system automatically populates your shopping list with the ingredients you need for each recipe. You can easily print out the shopping list and take it with you to the store, so you are shopping with a plan. Now you will only buy what you really need, so you can save money and reduce waste from food you would have ended up throwing away. A super bonus of the program is it even points out organic foods to look for in the grocery aisle.
STEP THREE: Cook
Whether you are a cooking novice or expert, Healthy Kids Inc. includes helpful prep tips and chef’s videos to guide you through each recipe. Use the prep tips to organize your ingredients and get a head start before that precious part of the day between school pick up and dinnertime arrives. The chef’s cooking videos take you through each recipe one step at a time. You can enjoy watching the video with your children and have them help you prepare the food. Encourage your older children and teens to follow along with the videos to learn how to cook on their own. Finally, get your family excited by printing out the meal plan calendar and posting it in the kitchen so they know what delicious meals to expect each day.
What are some ways you make meal time less stressful?