Ways to Make Meal Planning and Prep A Family Affair

Sarah Heckler, MS, RD, LDN, CISSN

Let’s face it, life can be exhausting between a job, kids, working out and a social life it may be hard to find the time to cook. Also, it’s overwhelming! Especially when you do not know what to cook with the endless possibilities of recipes. Don’t worry we are here to help! Here are our expert tips on how to get the whole family involved in cooking to make it more enjoyable instead of a necessary burden. Oh and of course these tips follow The Fueling Edge system of healthy eating!

Choose Your Own Adventure Meals

These are possibly my favorite type of meals to make when feeding a crowd, especially if there are picky eaters or those with food allergies. Choose your own adventure meals are when you prepare and cook different ingredients that can be combined to create personalized meals. For example, in a previous blog post we discussed 3 Steps to the Best Buddha Bowl, this recipe can easily be tailored into a Choose Your Own Adventure meal. Simply choose the number of ingredients you are going to offer, you can choose as many or as few as you would like, and allow each family member to create their own bowl. Personalizing the meal ensures that each member is going to create and eat something that they will enjoy! Other meals that work well as Choose Your Own Adventure meals include:

Everyone Has A Say

When planning out meals for the week, get the whole family involved. Sit down as a group and have everyone choose a meal they would like to have in the upcoming week. This takes some of the burden off of the individual who normally plans and prepares the meals. It also makes cooking a family affair, which it should be. This is a great opportunity to bond together as a family while also making something delicious to eat. Additionally, when people are invested, especially children, they will be more likely to eat the meals that they picked. When choosing your meals make sure you include the building blocks of healthy eating:

  1. Lean protein
  2. Colorful carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables)
  3. Healthy fats
  4. Whole grains

Example: If a family member wants tacos one night, have them

  1. Lean protein = black beans
  2. Colorful carbs = purple cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes
  3. Healthy fat = avocado
  4. Whole grains = whole wheat tortilla

Get The Kids Involved

Cooking should be a family activity where even the kids can participate! The NY Times states that kids who are involved in the preparation and cooking of a meal are more likely to eat the finished meal. Additionally, cooking is a life skill and learning it at a young age will be beneficial in maintaining a healthy diet throughout life. Kids can participate at all stages of the meal planning and preparation process. As mentioned above, they can help decide which meals the family will eat during the week. They can then help grocery shop by picking out the necessary ingredients. In fact, grocery shopping actually helps kids learn and recognize different fruits and vegetables. You can even turn it into a game where you quiz them on different produce to see how many they can get correct. Children can also help in:

  • Washing, peeling and cutting of vegetables
  • Measuring of wet and dry ingredients
  • Mixing of ingredients

Getting the whole family involved ensures not only quality, family bonding time during our busy work-weeks but also that each family member has a say in choosing and preparing a meal that they are going to enjoy.

Have you and your family ever cooked a meal together? What are some of your favorite dishes to make together? We’d love to hear from you, share your meals with us below or find us on social media and tag us @theenduranceedge or #thefuelingedge