Want to know how to make delicious and healthy recipes with kale, quinoa or organic turkey breast for your family? Well, you’re at the wrong blog post sister. This blog is about eating real food in a healthy way.
We’ve all seen the mouthwatering images of beautiful and healthy meals on Pinterest. You know the ones. The amazing recipes that have about 30 steps and require exotic ingredients you have to travel to 5 stores in town to find. And when you do find these obscure ingredients you have a mild coronary when you see the price tag. Nice try fancy recipe blogger! But what about REAL moms out here? The moms with other stuff to do than drive around town looking for tropical fennel grown on the eastern side of a mountain in spring?
I want to help YOU, the busy mom on a budget, give your family, and yourself, the healthiest food possible without having to take out a second mortgage to do so. That is what this blog post is about.
Dinner time with kids! Ugh! Do we even need to describe the joys of this scenario???
One kid wants pizza, the other wants a burger, the other wants a salad. Recently my four year old daughter, upon having her dinner placed in front of her, has started telling me, “I didn’t order this!” Um! Exsqueeze me??? You didn’t “order this”? Oh hail no girlfriend!!! Feeding kids dinner is enough to make your want to run away and volunteer with the circus as the elephant poop shoveler, because that would be more enjoyable than feeding kids a meal.
Most moms, looking for inspiration when trying to learn new ways to deliver nutritious meals to their families turn to the interwebs.
There’s no shortage of great recipes from nutrition experts that look wonderful. Pictures of beautiful meals that make the mouth water. But we have to make food that, when placed in front of a picky toddler or finicky teen will actually be eaten.
So, after scouring the web we, as tired moms often give up and resort to take out or delivery.
And isn’t it just easier to go through the drive thru anyway?
Don’t do it! Not only is this unhealthy, it is also more expensive than proper planning and eating at home. Really, it is! The problem is that what people think of as ‘healthy’ foods from the grocery store tend to be quite expensive. So parents compare the price of buying a pack of chicken breasts, 2 packs of whole grain pasta, tomatoes, onion, broccoli and olive oil and then the time to cook the meal with a quick and easy trip to the drive thru and, of course, McDs sounds cheaper and easier every time.
I coach a number of moms who are trying to make healthier food choices for their families and teach their children better nutrition – most of whom are on a very tight budget. So, while the fancy healthy recipes using ingredients such as fennel, kale and chia seeds would be lovely, they just aren’t a realistic first step for moms who want their kids (and themselves) to eat healthier.
I’m going to share a few ideas here to help the busy mom (or dad) provide healthier meals for the family. The goal is NOT for you to adopt every single suggestion here. The goal is to pick ONE thing that you can start doing next week, just one. Work that one change until you are ROCKING it weekly and it becomes part of your ‘norm’. Then, you can add a second challenge from the list and grow slowly.
Don’t make this stressful.
Start with the baby steps.
This is a long game. It’s important to take baby steps when it comes to health for anyone, but especially when kids are involved. I have a lot of ideas to help you start!
1.) Be the change!
Start with you! If you’re making chicken nuggets for dinner, add a salad or a vegetable and make sure you eat that first, before anything else on your plate. Comment on how yummy it is. And leave it at that. No lecture, no pressure for others to eat the veggie. Start by showing your family how it’s done.
(Don’t know how to make a veggie taste good? I have a blog post for that… HERE)
2.) Drink water
Start serving and drinking more water. Try to slowly eliminate sugary drinks in the home (this includes diet drinks which contain dangerous chemical sweeteners). Do your little kids drink full juice? Start watering down their juice. Only a tiny bit at first, and as their taste buds get used to it you can slowly add more water and less juice. You can make water more fun by adding lemon slices, cucumber slices, orange slices, etc.
3.) Wash your produce immediately
NEVER put an unwashed fruit or veggie away in the fridge. As soon as you get home from shopping, pile up your produce next to the sink. Fill the sink with water (add some sea salt, lemon juice and vinegar to help clean off any gunk), add your produce, let it sit while you put away other groceries or fold some laundry. Remove produce and pop it onto a towel on the counter to drip dry. Then put it away in the fridge. It’s ready to eat!
4.) Serve fruit
Fruit is a great gateway food for kids and teens to prepare them for veggies. Serve fruit first. Serve it for breakfast, snacks and dinner. No one gains weight eating fruit. It has natural sugar, not the kind of sugar to be fearful of. So eat the fruit!!
5.) Save money on produce
Whenever possible, stay away from the large chain stores! The best prices for fruit and veg is at produce stands, local farms, flea markets, farmer’s markets, etc. I did a little experiment not too long ago. I went to my local grocery chain and purchased a set list of produce (broccoli, carrots, apples, cantaloupe, etc) and spent $86. I then went to a local produce stand and purchased the exact same items, and spent $35. I saved $51!!! FIFTY-ONE DOLLARS! That is one heck of a saving and well worth the extra trip to produce.
6.) Join the club
Join Sam’s Club or Costco. It is TOTALLY worth it. Save up and pay the membership fee and start shopping there. They have great prices on produce, even a number of organic options. My family gets whole grain bread, organic jarred spaghetti sauce, almond butter, organic applesauce, juice boxes (my kids get full juice once a day), mixed nuts, healthier snack foods (like Veggie Stix, baked chips, granola bars, etc) and so much more and we spend a fraction of what we would spend at the grocery store.
7.) Create healthy ‘fast’ food snacks to keep in the fridge.
Making healthy food fast and convenient is key. It takes a little planning but can have a huge impact on your wallet and your health. Here are a few ideas: Boil and peel eggs and store them in the fridge. Chop veggies and store them in clear containers next to dip in the front of the shelf. Put fruit in bowls easy to see and grab up front in the fridge. Freeze grapes in baggies, these are a yummy snack. Pop your own popcorn and keep in baggies for the kids to grab or for you to keep in your purse.
8.) Leftovers are King
Always cook more than you need, a lot more. After dinner prepare numerous storage containers with ready meals in them. These can be grabbed to take to work for lunch or grabbed to be heated up at home. (Sidenote: please don’t place plastic in the microwave, rather, put onto a plate before heating). I cook chicken about twice a week, but I cook 10-12 thighs at a time. There is always a container of cooked chicken ready to go in our fridge. I can eat the chicken cold, just as it is (I season it a lot when I cook it), or it can be chopped and added to a salad. I can throw it between two pieces of bread as a sandwich, add it to pasta with olive oil, or eat it with rice flavored with Braggs Amino Acids (tastes like soy sauce). See how versatile extra cooked chicken can be?
9.) Don’t give up
It can take time and a lot of trial and error to get good and eating healthy on a budget. Keep trying. Two steps forward, one step back is STILL great progress.
10.) Don’t be hard on yourself
Celebrate every single triumph on this journey. Let go of the less than perfect attempts and chalk it up to ‘experience’. If you can adopt 2-3 new, healthy and economic habits each year, you are doing amazingly well.
You can do it!
While it might be nice to get fancy with your recipes every now and again you can TOTALLY make real, familiar and comfortable food in a healthy way with a little thought.
I hope this helped.
If you have ANY questions on this topic I’d love to hear from you. Comment below.
Best of luck!!