Tips for Healthy Dinner Ideas
The plan will fail if you fail to plan —heard this one before?
Let’s apply this to feeding a family. If you are like many parents, you are busy with children, their activities, and homework. Perhaps you work, or maybe you are busy with housework and volunteer activities. Regardless, time given to others is time taken away from planning healthy dinner ideas and preparing meals for a family. We all know that good nutrition is the cornerstone of healthy, growing kids.
So, how can we be efficient with meals and consider nutrition too?
7 Simple Tactics for Healthy Dinners
Here are 7 easy tips for planning healthy dinner ideas for your family:
1. Set a Day for Menu Planning
Select a day for menu planning, grocery list making, and shopping.
2. Map Out Healthy Dinner Ideas for the Week
Itemize a complete dinner meal for each night of the week (and don’t forget to include the dining out nights on your list–it always feels nice to see that you have a night off from cooking!). Remember to include the healthy, balanced components of a good meal: protein source, dairy, vegetable, fruit, and whole grains.
3. Pick a Dinner Theme
Divide your week into theme nights–Crockpot night (I use this theme for my busiest night of the week); Vegetarian night, Fish night, Potato Bar night, Soup and Sandwich night, Kid’s Choice night, etc.
4. The Other Meals (and Snacks)
Plan your lunches, breakfast items, and snacks for the week. Don’t forget to account for these–planning will help bring variety to these meals and avoid the boring “bowl of cereal” and “same old sandwich” every day.
5. Write Your Grocery List
Compile your grocery list from the daily meals and snacks you have listed. Remember, the great thing about having a list is that you can recycle it! Save your menus and grocery lists and rotate them on a cycle.
6. Consider the Cost and Your Budget
Think about your budget. If you use coupons or store specials, take these into consideration when planning your weekly menu and grocery list.
Not Sure What to Make for Dinner?
Check out the array of Cooking Light cookbooks–one of my favorites is “5 Ingredient, 15 Minute Cookbook”–for super fast, healthy meals, or source online food bloggers, such as Liz’s Healthy Table, for inspiration.
Want more support? I love Prepear, the app and meal planning service created by Super Healthy Kids.
Last Words of Advice about Meal Planning
Keep that menu list handy and refer to it throughout the week. Having a game plan and the needed items in the kitchen can calm the stress that goes along with pulling a meal together at the end of a busy day, help you feed your family healthier meals and snacks, and help you feel more successful as a parent/provider.
What’s your favorite tip for meal planning?
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Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: November 19, 2009
Updated on: October 17, 2019