Raise your hand if you live with multiple people!
Raise your hand if some of those people include kids!
Raise your hand if some of those people and kids are picky eaters!
Raise your hand if some of those people have multiple food restrictions, preferences, or allergies!
Raise your hand if your spouse is in his or her 40s and still eats like a growing teenager!
If you raised your hand for one or more of the fore-mentioned criteria, then come, let’s talk about how to manage the crazy that comes with the dreaded question of, “What’s for dinner???”
If you’ve ever had any fitness or health-related goals, then you are well aware that upwards of 90ish% of your success lies in what’s happening in the kitchen. This is true for those of us who want to drop a few pound, gain a few pounds, tone up, etc. The kitchen is where the real magic happens.
If you’re anything like the majority, then you know just how hard it can be to keep your own nutrition in check when there is a need to accommodate, or at least consider, the little army you’ve created and your co-commandant. But, don’t let these obstacles get in the way of creating the lifestyle you need to honor your body and the way it needs to be nourished. Today, I’m sharing my methods for keeping everyone happy, or at least happy-ish.
- You Must Have a Plan:
Maybe you don’t have time to sit down and write out a plan. Maybe you’re just not a planner by nature. Listen up, this whole nutrition thing (i.e. hitting macros, adequate nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, creating healthier habits, etc.) doesn’t occur by happenstance. The proof is in the putting. Now this doesn’t mean sitting down multiplying, adding, and dividing to ensure everyone’s being properly covered, but some effort is required for you to meet your goals and ensure you family is properly nourished in the process.
Your plan can be as simple or detailed as you deem necessary. My strategy includes planning for four cooked dinners that will yield leftovers because cooking every day is not my thing. In addition, lunch, breakfast, and snack items are considered to ensure we’ve got everything on the grocery list and ordered for pickup. Yes, I order the bulk of my groceries because, well, time is everything.
- 2. Consider Meals that can go in many different directions:
Think Rachel Ray’s week in a day. I’m not nearly that organized, but I like to start with a base that can set us up for options. For example, bowls are the bee’s knees. Start with your base (i.e. wild rice, barley, pasta, quinoa, etc.) and the possibilities from there are nearly endless. A few veggies (at least one that you know everyone enjoys) a couple of protein options (one plant-based and perhaps on that’s not), and everyone can eat for a couple of days without even eating the same thing twice.
Another idea that may work in this category is having themed days of the week. For example, Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Soup Day, Pasta Night, etc. Having a themed template saves time by providing a framework for your cooking. If it’s Taco Tuesday, then you don’t have to think of what to have, just what type of taco to execute.
- Cook in Bulk and Meal Prep
My days are Mondays. I only take personal training clients first thing in the morning and then later in the evening. I have an entire day to prep a few things while the hubs is at work and the kids are in school. I am well aware that this is a luxury and I absolutely do not take it for granted. If you can’t take a whole day, cook several meals at once by doing your chopping ahead of time and using the oven, stovetop, slow cooker, Instant pot, etc.
simultaneously to keep things going. Yes, it’s going to feel crazy in those moments, but you’ll be so glad you did it in the days to come.
Consider a chili or soup in the slow cooker, a wonder pot or one-pot dish on the burner, and a sheet pan meal in the oven. Sure you’ll do a ton of chopping, but you’ll eat like a queen for the rest of week.
- Get Help and Input from Your Spouse and Kids
I’m not one for short-order cooking, but I do find that including my husband and kids in the decision making process helps keep everyone feeling included and happy. For example, I leave Fridays for my girls. They take turns deciding. One may choose pizza and that can easily equate to family fun with creating personal pans for everyone. Or, they even have the liberty of Chic Fil A every now and again. It’s fun, inclusive, and each option leaves room for healthier choices and variety.
Do you eat brown rice every week? Put on a pot while you’re puttering around the house. Do you love to have veggies or fruit for snacking? Keep things easy by keeping some pre-cut, washed, and ready to grab. Do you enjoy grilling? Fire it up and get a few things going while the kids are playing and you’re enjoying some outdoor time. There are a number of ways to ease dinnertime pressure and not compromise your goals.
Admittedly, I am the most concerned when it comes to food choices in our home. I’m committed to my health and to that of my family. These practices help me to “stay on track” and model healthy habits without much compromise. I never have to “preach” nutrition to my kids, but the idea is to set them up with a strong base of home-cooked, nutrient-dense meals, that include plenty of variety and exposure.
What are some of your tried and true methods of maintaining your health goals in the midst of family stress?