Some of the happiest memories in my life are of the whole family gathered in the kitchen. Cooking, singing, laughing, dancing (we actually called it kitchen dancing), and a whole lot of love! Food is not only a source of nourishment and provider of health, it is also a source of pleasure and a bonding element in relationships. Cooking for two can be romantic, relaxing, and a form of entertainment. Even cooking for one can provide a meditative calmness and a sense of nourishing the soul as well as the body. Yet, I know so many families that forget to share food together and they feel that cooking, grocery shopping, and meal planning are a chore and a waste of time. It’s all a matter of perspective.
We all have to eat. We all want to be healthy. Why not make healthy eating a celebration?
Here are some tips on making that weekly meal plan seem a little less daunting:
- Since many hands make light work, have a family discussion about who will take on which jobs. Aside from creating the weekly meal plan there are many other tasks such as doing the shopping, chopping, cooking, storing, clean up, etc., that each family member can contribute in executing. We all have strengths and weaknesses so let everyone choose their own task. If there is argument about who does what assign the jobs and rotate them weekly.
- Make a list of food preferences, aversions, and dietary needs of the family. It is important to choose foods that everyone actually likes eating, otherwise waste will become an issue.
- Keep things simple. Find healthy recipes that are fast and easy to make. Choose breakfast, lunch, and snack items that are portable so you are ready for those days when everyone is on-the-go.
- Make shopping fun! Go to the store when you are least stressed and hurried. Take a shopping partner with you to shorten the time if it’s a big load. Make a game of finding the foods on the list when you are with children. Send each child (age dependent) to find the foods they like. Also, let your eyes feast on the beautiful colors in the produce section. There is natural beauty in the foods that are nutrition dense. Once a week try a new fruit or vegetable.
- Dedicate one day of the week for food preparation. When the whole family joins in it can be fun. Keep the electronics off and play music. Let each family member pick a few working songs to keep motivation up. When the foods are finished, portion them out into single serving containers for meals on-the-go or freeze larger portions for family meals later in the week.
We are more likely to eat healthy, regularly, when foods are selected, purchased, and prepared before the week begins. Planning ahead can help you create a healthy food environment that eases temptations for fast foods, impulsive snacks, and wards off cravings. Spending time on a healthy eating plan is probably one of the best life investments a body can make. Healthy living really can become fun, especially if you dance in the kitchen.