In today’s society, we are rushed to complete a list that seems to never end and family meals suffer as a result. I know for me and my family it is hard to keep healthy meals a priority. However, it can be done with planning, great resources and an open mind. Here are some tips I hope will help you bring peace of mind to each meal.
1. Use recipes with simple ingredients.
I found a wonderful alternative to chicken nuggets in MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better by Elizabeth Ward MS, RD. I guarantee your children will gobble these up!
Coconut Chicken Tenders
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 seasoned Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- Place flour in one-quart resealable plastic storage bag. In a separate bag, combine coconut and breadcrumbs, seal bag and shake to mix well.
- In a medium bowl, combine the egg and milk. Mix well.
- Working in batches, add the chicken to the flour bag and coat well, then dip each piece in the egg mixture and place in the bag with the coconut and breadcrumbs and shake to coat chicken.
- Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil to pan and heat. Add chicken to pan and cook five minutes, flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side. repeat with remaining oil and chicken.
2. Use a slow cooker!
I love the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook with over 700 great slow cooker recipes. Many of the recipes can be prepped the night before. Just don’t forget to plug the slow cooker in before you leave for work!
3. Provide family favorites but enhance the nutrition in the meal.
I keep frozen sliced or diced peppers, onions, carrots, spinach and kale on hand all of the time. When I am making any fun staple recipe in my home (tacos), I throw in some finely diced frozen veggies for added nutrients. To learn more about enhancing nutrition, click here.
- 1 lb pastured ground beef
- 1 diced onion
- 3/4 cup water
- 15 oz canned tomato sauce
- 1 envelope taco seasoning
- 8 oz package of macaroni
Tip to enhance nutrition, I added a handful of frozen diced spinach and 1 cups frozen diced mild peppers to onion mixture while cooking.
- Brown beef and onion in skillet.
- Add water, tomato sauce and seasoning.
- Mix well. Simmer for 15 minutes and transfer to slow cooker.
- Stir in uncooked macaroni.
- Cover and cook on high for 1.5 hours or on low for 4 hours.
4. Get the children involved.
To learn about age appropriate tasks, click here. I know it is hectic after work but a great way to reduce the stress is to allow your child to help you prepare the meal. Plan ahead and put them to work immediately. When I do this with my four-year old, I save so much time that would have been spent arguing and pleading. Instead, we work side by side and have better communication and she actually as a better chance of eating the food. For great lunch ideas, read here to get out of the peanut butter and jelly rut.
Creamy Avocado Pasta Sauce
This is a great recipe to get the children involved in measuring and preparing the vegetables.
- 1 Hass avocado
- 1 cup basil
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp MILD olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
- 10 whole almonds (substitute pumpkin seeds, if there is a tree nut allergy)
- 1 package of favorite pasta (8oz)
- Salt to taste
- Boil pasta to desired tenderness.
- While pasta is cooking, blend the remaining ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy.
- When pasta is done, mix with avocado cream sauce.
- Garnish with basil or coarsely chopped almonds and a slice of avocado.
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5. Plan for leftovers!
When making a dinner, consider how it can be made into something else. For example: a roasted chicken can be made into chicken salad or chicken tacos. The coconut chicken above is a great lunch time treat for any adult and child.