Healthy Meals for Busy Families
Feeding a family is no mean feat. Follow these tips to whip up nutritious, delicious fare in a flash.
Providing healthy meals is the ultimate challenge for harried parents. The
kids are constantly on the go. And whether you work outside the home or inside,
you likely have many demands on your time. Yet even if family meals are no
longer the unhurried affairs you may remember, that doesn't diminish their
Gathering together at the table allows your family to connect with each
other. Family meals also help children learn good table manners. Just as
important, they set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating.
How can you preserve family mealtime and still meet your busy schedule? Here
are a few simple strategies and tips that will have you whipping up nutritious
and delicious family fare in a flash.
Rise and Dine: The Importance of Breakfast
If there is a most important meal, it must be breakfast. "Research shows
that kids who eat breakfast on a regular basis take in more nutrients overall,
including fiber; are less overweight; and fare better on
academic tests than children who skip the morning meal," says Janice
Bissex, MS, RD, co-author of The Moms' Guide to Meal Makeovers.
Breakfast's affects on academic performance is really a no-brainer: After
about 10 hours or so without food, eating in the a.m. fuels the brain and body
for the day ahead. Plus, it's a meal, so when you skip it, you miss out on
opportunity to consume important nutrients, such as protein, calcium, fiber,
Good Breakfast Bets
Of course, what you eat for breakfast matters. "Complex carbohydrates
are the cornerstone of the most beneficial breakfasts because they produce a
long-lasting supply of glucose for the brain and body," Bissex says.
"Breakfast should also contain protein, fiber, and some fat to help
children and adults feel fuller longer."
Translation: Go for fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, such as Wheat
Chex or oatmeal prepared with milk instead of water. When topped with fresh,
dried, or frozen fruit, breakfast cereals make a complete meal. And they are
ready in a snap.
Time is always tight in the morning, but by keeping breakfast simple so
you're sure to include it even on busy days. Here are some more quick and easy
morning meals for the family:
- Whole-grain toast topped with 1 1/2 ounces melted reduced-fat cheddar
cheese; 1 cup cubed fruit
- Fat-free latte; 1/2 whole-wheat English muffin with 1/2 cup low-fat cottage
cheese; medium banana
- Peanut butter pancake roll-ups: microwave two small frozen pancakes and
spread with 2 tablespoons peanut butter; 1/2 cup grapes; 8 ounces 1% low fat or
- Cooked oatmeal with applesauce swirled in; topped with raisins and chopped
almonds; 8 ounces low-fat yogurt
- 2 ounces smoked salmon on 1/2 whole-wheat bagel with low-fat cream cheese;
1 cup berries; 8 ounces 1% low-fat or skim milk
- 8 ounces coffee flavored yogurt with 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ cereal
mixed in; 1 plum or nectarine
- Egg and pita sandwich: 1 egg scrambled in 1 teaspoon olive oil stuffed into
whole-wheat pita pocket and topped with salsa; 8 ounces 1% low-fat or skim
- Breakfast parfait: Layer 1 cup low-fat yogurt; 1/2 cup crunchy whole-grain
cereal; and 1 cup fresh, chopped fruit, or whole berries