It is not easy to cook and feed a family. You may feel as if the planning never ends, and trying to ensure that each meal touches on all the food groups may seem almost impossible at times. In order to keep things simple but healthy, there are several important questions you should pose to yourself.
Is the pantry stocked? Do your best to fill up your refrigerator and pantry with healthy foods. What time of year is it? The season often dictates what type of food you need to buy. For example, you may cook warmer foods, like chili, in the winter.
Take the answers to these questions and figure out what meals you want for the next seven days. Write out a list with everything required to make the recipes.
Including All the Food Groups
If you want to make a balanced meal, you must have something from all the food groups. This includes a vegetable, a fruit, a milk or milk product, grains and meat/beans. For inspiration, take a look at the MyPlate image. It shows how all food groups should look on the plate.
It is not as hard as you would think to do this. Perhaps you are planning to make pasta for dinner. Whip up a meat sauce, so that you have the meat food group covered. Chop up a few onions and mushrooms to throw in as well, so that vegetables are included. The pasta itself falls into the grain group, so you are fine there. Give everyone a glass of milk to get that covered and serve up a fruit salad to ensure the last group is a part of the meal.
If oatmeal is on the breakfast menu, add a bit of fruit and yogurt to spice up the dish. Hard boil an egg to serve on the side for some protein; you could also scramble one if you would like. If you are serving sandwiches for lunch, add a piece of cheese, wash some fruit and add a few carrots as well.
Serving balanced meals helps keep everyone in the family healthy. It ensures that the meals are nutritious, and it has an added bonus as well. By including something from all five food groups, even picky eaters should find something that they like and are satisfied with. In addition, the meals are much more interesting than if they only included two or three items.
Should you stress about making sure that each meal is balanced? No. Just do your best and try to be as healthy as possible.