Believe it or not, the summer is almost over. That means it’s time to trade in the beach towels for backpacks, and the lazy pool days for packed sports schedules. But, just because your routine is about to ramp up, it doesn’t mean your family’s health has to pay the price.
Yes, the kids will be busier and your schedule as the designated family chauffeur is going to fill up fast. But, with a little planning and organization, your family can still eat healthy and clean amidst all the chaos.
First, make sure you set aside some time to plan your meals ahead of time. Sunday is a great day to do this since it sets you up for the week. Sit down with your favorite recipes—whether they’re from Pinterest, magazines or your grandma—and write out a list of all the ingredients you’ll need. To make things even easier and more efficient, group your list items into categories that match the departments in the grocery store—dairy, meats, produce, beverages, etc. Make sure you also set the coming week’s recipes aside somewhere where they’ll be easily accessible. This could be on a cookbook stand on your kitchen counter, tacked to a pegboard on the wall, or even pinned to a separate board on Pinterest.
Once you’ve picked out your healthy and clean meals for the week and done your grocery shopping, get some of your prep work out of the way ahead of time. Chop up vegetables and fruits, cook up dry ingredients like quinoa or rice, and marinate meats and seafood in preparation for the week’s meals. Then, store the ingredients in the fridge until you need them. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can even cook some of your meals ahead of time, so all you have to do is reheat them during the week.
Choose a Dinner Time
Because everyone has such busy schedules these days, family dinners often fall by the wayside. But it’s never been more important to sit down and have some quality time with your family. So choose a time that works best with your family’s schedule, when everyone can sit down together. It may require a little finagling and creative scheduling, but even if you end up eating a little earlier or later than you’d like, it will be worth it when you’re all together.
Get Yourself Some Help
If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of planning healthy meals for your family five (or seven) days a week, get yourself some help by using a meal planning or meal delivery service. Companies like Hello Fresh, Plated, and Blue Apron will send you everything you need to make easy and deliciously healthy meals for your family. Just go online and pick out your recipes, and a box with all the pre-measured ingredients will come straight to your doorstep.
Pack Healthy Lunches
Keeping your kids’ lunches healthy may be the most challenging part of your back-to-school routine since not everyone is as excited about kale as you are. But there are still ways to keep their lunches healthy. Make sure to pack them with plenty of protein with foods like organic turkey breast, non-GMO cheese sticks, nuts like almonds and cashews, or protein bars. Add in some healthy sweets like strawberries, blueberries, or apples. And, of course, encourage them to choose water over soda by offering options like flavored water, sparkling water, or water enhancer packs that they can carry with them.
And at the end of the day, if you do have to order pizza one night or swing through the Chick-Fil-A drive through, remember, it’s not the end of the world.
Make sure you extend yourself the same patience that you would to a family member or a close friend. And don’t stress yourself out if some nights it’s all about convenience. Just try to stick to healthier options like organic, gluten-free, and sugar-free, and give yourself the grace to start again tomorrow!