Monday, January 28, 2013

Q & A: Family Meal Planning

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On a recent post I was posed the following:

"When you plan all your meals, does your whole family eat what you eat... or do you make something separate. My husband and I are trying to make healthy meals together but it is HARD since he isn't willing to sacrifice in a few areas (like eating turkey meat)... on days when dinner is not healthy, I've been eating smaller amounts but end up SUPER hungry because of it!!"

This is a GREAT question. Before I get to the answer, let me get a couple of things out. First off, when I started on this journey I tried following blogs where I thought I could find great advice for losing weight. That back fired. I never found the "one thing" that made the light bulb go off. For me, the "aha moment" came after joining Weight Watchers. While I understand that not everyone can afford it, you can still afford to eat healthy but it's going to take some research and planning on your part. 

So where does one start? In short "If it cannot go bad, it's bad for you." This is a great mantra to repeat while at the grocery store. Eating as close to its natural form is the best way to go for any nutrition plan. And it's always best to stick to the perimeter of the store. The "stuff" in the center aisles is generally no bueno. Whatever you decide to do, just know that no two people are alike and everyone must figure out what works for them. :) P.S. Weight Watchers does not pay me to use their name or endorse them. I simply am sharing my journey with WW for everyone because it's what works for me.


So how do I go about planning our family meals? 

You must know by now I have the hubs, who isn't a very picky eater and willing to try new foods. But then I have the two littles. Being under the age of 5 they tend to be my picky crowd and the more difficult to please with my vastly growing palate.

My process goes a little something like this:

The hubs deals with the kids' breakfast, generally waffles, pop tarts, cereal, toast, eggs or a whole banana. If I'm the one in charge of everyone's breakfast it's usually whole wheat pancakes and fresh fruit on the top. Otherwise I'm on my own for breakfast so I can't blame anyone except myself if I don't eat what I should.

Lunch is usually a Hail Mary (whatever I decide sounds good) or left overs. Lately though, I've been trying to make sure I prep some grilled chicken ahead of time to keep in the fridge so that I can't revert to "let's just go out." {For the record I have not had fast food of ANY KIND since LAST YEAR!!! Okay, well November or December? But still I'm making it a goal to avoid the fast food joints.} The kids, they generally have sandwiches or leftovers with us.

Dinner is usually thought out ahead of time. I keep a white erase board next to the fridge and based on what vegetables and proteins I have on hand I write down a couple of days in advance what I plan on fixing. This also comes in handy if I know I'll be making enough for leftovers for the next day or so.

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As you can see Wednesday HAS to be leftovers day, because Baby Girl's dance class is right around meal time. I always pack veggies for me and a snack for the kids so they aren't starving by the time we make it home.

Snacks, well I keep fresh fruits and veggies on hands at all times so I've always got a healthy choice. Again, there is no excuse for me to grab the kids junk food. Yes, I still let the kids indulge in garbage every now and again, because they are kids and that's my choice. But by giving them healthy options more so than junk, they tend to gravitate towards the fresh fruits and healthy snacks. Or better yet, they try to steal whatever is on my plate or in my bowl. That's one way to sneak the healthy food in on them. ;)

The hubby isn't an issue for me regarding non-healthy meals, most days. He will eat what I fix him or go hungry. Why? Because he works the graveyard shift & I'm the one who puts his meals together. So he's sort of forced to eat what I fix him. This hasn't always been the case. We've struggled with the meal planning. He wants XXX, I do not because it's not what my body needs. Or even worse, "nothing sounds good" and we can't agree on a healthy meal. On occasion the hubs offers up an idea but generally all meal planning is on me. But the best thing I did was open up to him and let him know how I feel about this process. It has made things a lot easier on our marriage, as well as my peace of mind. Since talking about it he's been 100% behind my nutrition plan and even throws out meal ideas when I get stumped.

So, my suggestion would be this (as on occasion the hubs decides to eat gnarly pizza or Wendy's) let him eat his food. It's his decision, his body but you don't have to give in to him. You don't have to eat a smaller portion of what he's having just because you don't want him to feel bad. You could eat that small portion but supplement with lots of fresh veggies, a huge green vitamin loaded salad. Fill your tummy with fibrous healthy foods. Fiber fills you up! Another option, make sure that you take care of you. Make a large chicken breast and steam some veggies, measure out your servings, then make leftover packages for the next day or so**. You will have no excuse that way. He wants a less than healthy meal for dinner, you pull out your pre-cooked healthy meal. But, be honest with your spouse and let them know while you appreciate his generosity in the kitchen you have goals and in order to meet those goals you have to put you and your body first. Honesty is the best policy and I'm sure you'll both feel better, you more so, once you get him on board with your nutrition plan. 

So how do I get the kids to eat my healthy meals? For the most part my kids are open minded. They love chicken, ground turkey, anything that resembles taco meat, and I can usually tell them fish is "chicken" and they'll eat it. Veggies on the other hand is a whole 'nother ball game. I generally place one to two bites of the "gross" veggies on their plate. They are required to eat no less than one bite of the vegetable on their plate. Most of the time they like the veggie I've cooked (roasted carrots, corn, green beans, peas) but they still are having issues with broccoli and cauliflower. I'm okay with them not eating a full serving as long as they try it. It's been proven that with repeated tries they usually start eating the food with no complaints. And when all else fails I bribe them. :P They really love Fage Total 0% with either PB2 or a sprinkle of Crystal Light.  So there's always that option for the kids, every time.

And that my friends is how I keep in control. I do the planning, I do the cooking. If it were up to my husband I would be eating Doritos and lunch meat sandwiches, hamburgers or chicken nuggets & fries 24/7. The biggest obstacle in making a healthy nutrition plan work, is honest open communication with your family.

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**Keep in mind when preparing meals, although cooked, your food still can generate bacteria after a couple of  days so it's best not to prepare too much food ahead of time unless you intend to eat it before it expires in the fridge. Most people prepare no more than 3 days ahead of time to prevent spoilage. The alternative would be to package the meals in freezable containers and thaw them in the fridge the night before you need it.

1 comment:

Treesa said...

Thank you so much for this post!! My husband and i have really been discussing my weight loss goals... the problem we have is... he is the cook in the family and cooking is one of his favorite things to do!

I have been trying to show him healthier meals and he is changing... but it has just been a process. :)

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