How to Prioritize Healthy Eating as a Family on Busy Weeks
Healthy eating as a family is important to you, but on busy weeks, it may be the first thing that falls off your to-do list. When you’re running between work, your child’s school, sports practice and more, it’s easier to order in or grab something on the way home than cook dinner yourself. Healthy breakfasts and lunches may fall to the wayside as well, as you rush to get ready before running out the door.
You don’t have to change your schedule to eat healthy—or let it fall off your radar if you are having an exceptionally busy week. Instead, use these ideas to make healthy eating a priority, regardless of your schedule.
Make it Easy
Making healthy food doesn’t have to be time-consuming. There are plenty of healthy food options that you can make quickly and easily, like oatmeal for breakfast or veggie scrambled eggs for dinner.
What’s even easier to make: smoothies. Not only are they easy to throw together, but there’s minimal clean up and you and your child can take the meal on the road when you’re in a hurry.
The key is filling the smoothie with vegetables and healthy fats. In our guide, Secrets to Make the Best Protein Shakes for Kids, we share that boosting the fat content ensures that your child stays full longer, rather than experiencing sugar crash that comes from a fruit-only, high-sugar smoothie.
If you’re worried about turning the smoothie green with spinach or kale, which may turn your child off, use shredded zucchini, roasted cauliflower or roasted sweet potato. For healthy fats, you can use yogurt, to add a creamy texture, flax or chia seeds or nut butter.
The moment you know your week is going to be especially busy, start planning. Mindy Carlson, M.S.O.D., life coach, wife, and mother, explains how she manages meal planning:
“A little menu planning goes a long way to making eating healthier an easy task. If I take 10 minutes to plan our meals for the week I don’t have to rack my brain for ideas after a long and draining day at work. Plus it streamlines my shopping so I spend less time wandering through the aisles. Or you can investigate your local grocery delivery service options.”
To make this even easier and less time-consuming, use meal-planning templates. Check out these free templates from Family Table or download an app.
Cook Double Batches
If it’s a busy week, and you’re cooking something quick and easy, like whole wheat pasta or roasted veggies and chicken (cook it all on one pan, at one time!), cook a double batch. You could have the leftovers for dinner the next night, or toss the extra into your child’s lunchbox for a healthy meal at school. Here are some meals that are perfect for leftovers:
- Protein and roasted veggies
- Fried rice or rice bowls
- Quinoa and protein
- Baked casseroles
- Kabobs and roasted veggies
Eat Breakfast as a Family
Healthy eating refers to both the food you’re putting in your body and how the experience is helping your child grow. Authors of a study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing found that children who ate breakfast with their family every day had higher IQ and verbal test scores. Science Daily reports,
“After a whole night of fasting, breakfast serves as a means to supply ‘fuel’ to the brain. Meanwhile, social interaction at breakfast time with parents may promote brain development. Mealtime discussions may facilitate cognitive development by offering children the opportunity to expand their vocabulary, practice synthesizing and comprehending stories, and acquire general knowledge.”
On busy weeks, make time for this one thing: eating breakfast as a family. When you eat together, you’re also more likely to toss a healthy meal onto the table; you’re already taking time out of your morning to eat together. An extra few minutes cutting fruit won’t seem like such an inconvenience.
You CAN Make Healthy Eating as a Family a Priority
Use these tips to keep yourself and your family eating healthy, even on your busiest weeks. When you keep it simple, plan ahead, and make double batches, you make healthy eating a reality between long days and early mornings.