Guest article provided by: Leslie Campos   Image Via Pexels

Nutrition is an essential part of any healthy lifestyle. Maintaining healthy family eating habits will support the mental, social, physical, and emotional health of you and your children. Plus, good nutrition reduces the risk of illness and disease!

But creating healthy meals can feel overwhelming to busy parents. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure your family gets the vitamins and minerals they need without spending all day in the kitchen. Here are a few tips from Madriella Doula Network to get you started!

Stock Healthy Snacks

Snacks make for easy and efficient nutrition. Stock your kitchen with healthy snack options that you and your kids can grab when you need a quick pick-me-up. Fresh fruit, nuts, and smoothies are great alternatives to chips or sugar-filled sodas. Use the weekends to prepare easy snacks like hummus, babaganoush, veggie sticks, and trail mix. Alternatively, you can buy all of these snacks pre-made and pre-packaged to save even more time.

Learn Some Make-Ahead Freezer Recipes

When you’ve had a busy day, there’s nothing better than throwing a freezer meal into a pot and having dinner on the table in 20 minutes. Freezer meals are quick to make, packed with nutrient-rich ingredients, and very tasty! If you’re feeling really ambitious, set aside one weekend to prepare all your weekday dinners for the month. This way, you can create several different recipes to rotate throughout the coming weeks. For inspiration, check out these healthy freezer meals from The Family Freezer.

Supplement with Vitamins

Vitamins get a bad rap. While some supplements may not be worth the extra expense, others can certainly help your family round out your diet and get the nutrients needed for optimal physical and mental functioning. ScienceAlert explains that you can skip multivitamins because these nutrients are easy to get with a healthy diet. Vitamin D, on the other hand, is difficult to get from food. It helps strengthen bones, boost immune functioning, and ward off the winter blues, so it’s worth taking in supplement form.

It’s important to note that your nutrition needs change while you’re pregnant and during breastfeeding, so check with your doctor or doula to ensure you and your baby are getting everything they need.

Learn How to Read Nutrition Labels

By making healthy choices at the grocery store, you can streamline meal prep and reduce the number of dietary decisions you need to make at home. Learn how to read nutrition labels so you can stock your home with nutrient-dense foods. Steer clear of foods with low amounts of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Prioritize foods high in dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and iron.

Stick to a Simple Meal Formula

Busy parents don’t have time to follow complicated recipes for every meal. Not to mention the time it takes to shop for exotic or uncommon ingredients. By sticking to a simple meal formula, you can ensure every meal is well-balanced without relying on recipes or lengthy shopping lists. Try this:

Fill half your plate with vegetables and/or fruit.
Fill a quarter of your plate with protein.
Fill the remaining quarter with whole grains.

Once you get the hang of this, you can throw together an endless variety of balanced meals for your family with ingredients you already have on hand.

Keep Your Pets Healthy, Too

We love our pets, but sometimes they get short shrift when it comes to healthy eating. We find a product that fits our schedule and our budget, and adopt that without reading through the ingredients or understanding how it fits into our pet’s dietary needs. When there are dry dog foods on the menu, look for options that have high protein and low carbs. Organic ingredients are great, too. Even better, find a food that matches your ingredient requirements and that also delivers, so feeding Fido doesn’t disrupt your already busy schedule.

You can even let your pet help you be more physically active, too. Look online for product reviews from veterinarians of dog harnesses and find one that matches your pet’s needs. There are even escape-proof options if your dog likes to wiggle free. Then, make it a point to take your pup out for regular walks. You will both enjoy the benefits.

Embrace Leftovers

Many people hate eating leftovers, but leftovers are a great opportunity to get more meals out of a single night of cooking. Don’t throw out uneaten food! Incorporate it into your next meal or save it for a snack. You could even cook a double batch of dinner so you have a prepped meal ready to heat up the following day.

Get creative with leftover ingredients and learn how to turn them into new meals. For example, leftover chicken is great in salads, rice blends perfectly into many casserole recipes, and cooked vegetables can round out any soup. Using leftovers will help you save time and money while reducing your environmental impact!

Make a Plan for Better Eating Practices

Nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated. Make healthier daily choices, stock up on nutritious snacks, meal-prep when you have extra time, use vitamins wisely, and stick to simple healthy eating formulas. With good planning, there’s room for nutrition in the busiest of family schedules!

If you’re paying special attention to your nutritional needs because you’re pregnant, then consider working with a doula from the Madriella Doula Network. Let us support you!