The spring season has arrived and of course summer is just around the corner. This is a great opportunity to shed the winter hibernation weight and take advantage of the seasonal growth of veggies and fruits. Here are a few tips on how to encourage healthier eating for your family while preparing for a busy season of outdoor activities.
Double It – Make it a point to double your recipes reducing the time you spend in the kitchen each week. Leftovers are especially important when you have children who attend sports practice or other extra-curricular activities. Restaurants and fast food often seem like a solution to the end of a busy day, but trying to make healthy choices for a whole family could be more exhausting than just taking the troop home.
Cut it in Half – If you’ve ever come across the problem where the family mistook your double recipe for a super feast and left you with an insufficient amount for leftovers, get in the habit of taking out the leftovers before announcing that dinner is ready.
Change it Up – A main dish can be a new dinner with a simple change in bread, veggies or fruits if your family gets that “bleh” look when you mention “leftovers”. Experiment with turning yesterday’s meat into a sandwich, or Monday’s pasta into a soup.
Piece Be With You – Raisins may be nature’s candy, but I’ll be one to admit that I can’t live on fruit alone as an indulgence. I love anything sweet and typically bad in large quantities. Resist buying large packages of snacks at the grocery store. My mom reserves her indulgences for a stop at the local See’s Candies store and buys two pieces of chocolate a couple times a week. This way she has something to look forward to after all her healthy eating, she doesn’t over-indulge, and because it would cost an arm and a leg at See’s, she resists buying it in bulk, resulting in less consumption of sweets. My personal favorite is a Candy Apple at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, but I make it a point to bring someone along to share one with.
Front and Center – I use to organize my food shelves so all food could be seen in one glance, but I noticed that fruits and veggies were always ignored as snacks because they were either at the bottom of the fridge or in a corner fruit bowl on the counter. I also found that my son was only tall enough to see up to the middle shelf and rarely asked for options higher than that. The grocery store uses a method like this right?
Try placing all precut finger foods and individual snacks on the middle shelf “front and center”. For items that are not to be eaten whether they need to be saved for recipes or if they should just be limited, place them low in the fridge or behind tall containers on the top.
As for the pantry, don’t be afraid to hide the sweets towards the back and bring nuts, breads, dried fruit and healthier cereal toward the front. If you forget about any foods in the back and they go bad, you may realize your family can live without them.
Make the Cut – Prepackaged food is so convenient, but I know that the fresh fruit and veggies are the key to a healthier snacking lifestyle. Unfortunately, I don’t always have time to cut a variety of garden foods so we either end up eating only the apples or grabbing a handful of crackers. So I realize there aren’t too many economical choices to avoiding a little hands-on work. To help myself keep more than one option of fresh fruits or veggies, the first thing I do before I go to the grocery store is put my large cutting board on the counter. When I go to the store I buy at least three options of fruit (I always have plenty of veggies around for recipes so I don’t stress on it too much). When I get home I unload my groceries in categories (dry food, fridge food, fruits, etc.). I unload all my fruits that need cutting by the cutting board. Since I’ve just returned from the grocery store, really the last thing I want to do is more work. But I’ve found that sitting down and cutting food while watching a show or talking with my 5-year-old can be a relaxing transition. I’ve also found that my husband is more than happy to start the job with the convenience of the cutting board already out and the fruits standing by.
Divvy it up – I just realized I’ve never spelled out the word “Divvy”. Anyhow, when cutting up fruits or veggies, create plenty of snacking options by creating medleys and also provi
ding isolated containers of each. I came across the problem of mixing fruit in such large quantities that it would go bad too soon. For those fruits that are looking a little sad, catch them early enough to make smoothies.
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