One size does not fit all when it comes to meal prep. If you see all of those Pinterest worthy posts of pre-prepped breakfast, lunch, and dinner boxes and it is totally overwhelming then don’t do it that way! There are lots of ways to approach this. If you even do one of the steps below, I promise it will simplify your life.
I personally think the meal planning is THE MOST important part. It is a huge stress reliever not to come home after work and only then start thinking about the age old question of “what’s for dinner?” or end up stopping for take out on the way home because I know we don’t have anything. If you only do one of the steps below, make it Step 1.
Having a chest freezer where I keep prepped freezer meals, frozen vegetables, back-up staples, etc is KEY.
My approach requires a love of leftovers and being okay with eating the same thing a few times a week.
Give yourself a lot of grace. I do all of the below when we have a fairly free weekend and it makes the next week 100% better. But, if I have a lot of work or we are traveling or life is very full, I just do what I can and leave it at that.
This week I focused on simplifying nutrition. We already eat pretty healthy around here, thanks to some changes over the last couple of years, but I have found this area to be one that requires continual attention and tweaking in order to stay on track.
Last year I really focused on meal planning and prepping, which was a total game changer in improving my ability to eat healthy lunches and dinners and seriously minimized work day stress. It sounds like it could complicatethings, but it actually makes everything much simpler. If you ever want to talk meal prep- I’m your girl! I’m a meal prep evangelist. 😉
This year I’ll be doubling down on lessons learned last year- notably the importance of meal prepping and decreasing sugar- but will be adding:
1. More VEGGIES!: I already eat a decent amount of veggies, but this year I’d like to focus on incorporating more meatless meals. All of the evidence is that this is better for our health AND better for our planet. When my son told me one of his goals this year (which I share due to fears about rapidity of climate change) was to do “more for the environment”, little did he know this meant more vegetables. 😂If you have some favorite meatless meal recipes, that still have a decent amount of protein, please send them my way! So far we’ve had a butternut squash soup (that wasn’t a huge hit) and tomorrow we’ll be trying lentil curry (which I’m pretty excited about).
2. More FARMER’S MARKET: We have one not far away, but I rarely get there. To be honest, I sometimes just forget because it is not in our routine. Working on changing that, because Farmer’s Markets are win/win/win when it comes to good nutrition.
Okay, so I’ve realized that my first two simplify goals have been pretty, well, simple. I love thinking and learning about nutrition and yes, I actually enjoy organizing cupboards. I’m going to start having to tackle more treacherous terrain like simplifying “paperwork”, “email”, and “legos”. If you have strategies around these areas, send them my way!!
We do a fairly good job of eating healthy at our house, particularly for dinner, but we have recently been in a rut with healthy options that my 6-year-old will actually eat for breakfast, lunch, and after school snacks. He’s also at the age where he likes to get involved in food choices and (occasionally) food preparation.
So, to mix things up a bit I crowd-sourced for new ideas this week (and boy did folks come through with some great ideas)! My plan for 2017 is to have this chart up on the fridge and involve my son in meal planning. Each Saturday before grocery shopping he can pick two items from each category and I’ll make sure we have the ingredients on hand for the following week. During my usual Sunday meal prep, I’m going to try to involve him in getting his own BF/lunch/snacks ready for the week.
Additional helpful resources:
This is a living document so if you have more ideas or helpful resources, please share in the comments. The first PDF includes our ideas, the second is left blank for your family’s imagination. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Kid-Approved Breakfast, Lunch, and Snacks PDF: kidapprovedbls
Kid-Approved Breakfast, Lunch, and Snacks (blank) PDF: blankbls
I have previously written about hunger, and it continues to be a significant problem for many, many children in our country. Sometimes problems of this scale feel a bit overwhelming and it is difficult to know how to begin tackling them. Dr. Lisa Chamberlain, assistant professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, and pediatric residents at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital have not let the scope of the problem daunt them. They have partnered with community organizations to fight food insecurity and hunger in an area neighborhood. Today I’d like to highlight their amazing work. They are true child health advocates in action. Continue reading
As directed by new guidelines from the Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents, my clinic recently started checking a non-fasting lipid panel for all ten year olds. The other day a father asked me a question I had sort of been asking myself for a few months now. Is it really necessary?
It is still a difficult question for me to answer, and it appears I am not alone. Since the release of the guidelines, the reaction has been mixed. Here’s a quick review of the arguments for and against checking cholesterol for all kids. Continue reading
After a lovely holiday hiatus, I am back, as promised, with part two in the series on feeding toddlers. Today I’ll focus on kids who are choosy. For this post I lean on professional experience. We have no shortage of patients in our practice whom one could describe as “picky eaters” or who are sometimes diagnosed with “feeding problems”. I have trouble with the diagnosis “feeding problems or mismanagement”, as it comes up in our electronic medical record. Why? Well, and this hopefully serves as a bit of comfort, toddlers who are picky eaters are pretty much the norm. It is, in fact, an expected developmental stage. If you have a toddler who refuses dinner, but then begs for chicken nuggets, this post is for you. If you have a toddler who only takes two bites at each meal, and then runs off to play, this is for you. If your child seems to refuse all vegies, this is for you. If, on the other hand, you have a child with true “failure to thrive” or difficulty gaining weight and growing well, please consult with your pediatrician, as I won’t be addressing those problems here. Continue reading
Our son has always loved to eat. In the hospital after he was born, the lactation consultant called him the “barracuda” breastfeeder. He ate vigorously and often. While this made for some sleepless nights, it also meant we didn’t have to worry too much about early weight gain, which I was initially concerned about as a first time mom.
As a 21 month old he still loves to eat. We haven’t found much that he doesn’t like, but he’s definitely starting to have favorites. Early on my prescient husband nicknamed him “ratón” (spanish for little mouse), a name all too fitting as cheese now seems to stand alone at the top of the list of favorites for our little guy. He recently has taken to standing in front of the refrigerator saying “cheese, cheese, cheese” and, if that doesn’t work he’ll switch to “queso, queso, queso”. Perhaps this has something to do with being half-Wisconsinite. We do love our cheese. Continue reading
As the fall-out of the recession lingers on, I am seeing more and more families in my clinic who are facing food insecurity and hunger. Many of these are families who used to be solidly middle class, but have been out of work for a year. They’ve already sold their car, their home, some of their belongings. They are running short each month. They are not sure where to turn, and they are often ashamed to talk about it. Continue reading