You know the drill. The alarm goes off and utter chaos ensues; throw together breakfast, pack lunch, drive to school, drive back from school, drive to sports, drive home, and wait what’s for dinner? This all too familiar scenario seems to be unavoidable today. It may feel at times like it is impossible to share a meal with your child. However, eating together as a family has been shown to have positive effects on a child’s diet and weight status1. Being able to share a meal as a family doesn’t have to mean just eating leftovers or takeout. Use overlapping ingredients to make meals you AND your kids will love. Check out below examples of meals that are easy to make and contain similar ingredients.
For the Little One: Whole wheat waffles topped with almond butter and a side of mixed berries.
For Mom: Mixed berry smoothie.
Toss the berries with coconut water, Greek yogurt, and a drizzle of honey in a blender and pour in a to-go cup for those jam-packed morning car rides.
For the Little One: Bento box with any of the following-
- Turkey roll ups with hummus or cheese
- Pita pockets with turkey, lettuce, and tomatoes
- Mini tacos with ground turkey, salsa, and lettuce
- Carrot sticks
- Cherry tomatoes
- Sliced baby cucumbers
- Side of hummus
- Bundle of grapes
- Sliced apples
- Mandarin orange
- Trail Mix (various nuts, seeds, dried fruit)
- Low-fat string cheese
For Mom: Mason Jar Salad.
Perfect to throw in your bag or in your cup holder! Toss a green salad base with some colorful vegetables, fruits, a lean protein, and nuts/seeds used in your child’s lunch. Add a simple house-made dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and your favorite herbs and spices. Shake together when you’re ready to eat.
For the family: Chunky Chili.
Perfect for a crockpot meal, prep all the ingredients ahead of time and stew together. Sauté ground turkey with cumin, chili powder, oregano, onions, and garlic. Add in as many kid-friendly vegetables as you’d like, such as zucchini, bell peppers, corn, beans, tomatoes, carrots, and celery. Add low-sodium chicken stock and more chili powder to taste. Let this stew- the longer the better. Serve over whole wheat pasta, rice, bread, or quinoa, and top with low-fat shredded cheese, cilantro, or a dollop of Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream.
For the family:
- Unsalted popcorn
- Pita and hummus
- Sliced peaches
- Handful of frozen blueberries
- Apples with almond butter
- Frozen dark chocolate covered bananas
Step away from screens or distractions when you can. If endless supply is available consume set portion in a separate, smaller container than what the food originally came in. Make this fun for your child by using multi-colored dishware or let them pick out their own designated snack container from the store.
- Sharing a healthy meal that satisfies both you and your child is doable despite busy schedules.
- Eating on-the-go is manageable, whether it is a quick smoothie or a mason jar salad.
- From bento boxes to chili, the options for healthy and creative meals are endless.