Cooking, Lifestyle, Wellness

How to Start Eating Healthy with a Big Family

You’ve heard the saying: “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.” And no one has time for sickness… am I right?

But what happens when you’ve trained yourself and your family to eat a certain way that’s not-so-healthy? Or what if you have picky eaters? How do you budget in healthier eating?

Stop stressing! I’ve got you covered. I’ve had a super unhealthy eating habit turned clean eating and doing it all on a shoestring budget! Keep reading to find out my top ways to start eating healthy… especially with a big family!

Call a Family Meeting

Seriously. Have a little family meeting to get everyone on the same page. Nothing crushes the change to eat healthier than a group of kids asking, “What’s this?” as they point at the new roasted green beans with cranberries. Or, “Is this what’s for dinner?” questioning if the tuna tacos are some kind of prank.

Calling a meeting and announcing the changes makes it easier on everyone to understand what’s going to be happening at mealtimes. This is also a good time to get some input about new foods and recipes to try. Pull up good ole’ Pinterest and scroll through some recipe pins and take notes of what gets the ooh’s and aah’s and what gets the frowny faces.

YOU MAY ENJOY: 5 Ways to Get Your Family Involved in Healthy Eating

Start Slow

Some families can make a sudden transition, but if your family is anything like mine, the slower the better. Instead of bringing in an entirely new menu plan, I start with individual meals. A simple swap of the bran flakes with sliced banana instead of the artificially sugared cereal is a great start.

For lunch, add some sliced vegetables like celery and carrots with a peanut butter dipping sauce instead of the saturated fat and overly salted potato chips. Mixed fruit and yogurt can cure any sweet tooth instead of those sugar-packed fruit snacks.

Whatever you do, don’t stress out with trying to make a sudden switch.

Develop a System

I typically use Google and Pinterest to help execute my system of picking a main dish then adding sides. I start with breakfast, then lunch, dinner, and end with snack – beginning with Sunday and working through Saturday. I don’t particularly try to do something different every single day but we all enjoy a variety.

Another system to consider is having four weeks of solid meal plans and alternating between those. No need to stress out with coming up with brand new meals every single month.

Pay attention to the family favorites and have those favorites often! My kiddos love oatmeal and wouldn’t mind having it everyday, so we eat oatmeal a few times a week. Clean fish like salmon and tuna are favorites as well, so those are typically on the menu quite a bit too.

Something else I’ve figured out is…

Cook the Same Foods but with a Twist

There are so many things you can do with hamburger meat, chicken, tuna, and any other meat of your choice. Of course we are clean eaters (according to the Leviticus 11 diet) so I only recommend eating meats and foods that are free from toxins and offer the utmost nutrition for you and your family’s bodies.

If you don’t already have one, get a little recipe book (or in my case, a small spiral notebook) and take note of different ways a meat can be cooked. Play around with different tastes and highlight the family favorites.

The same can be said for sides as well. Potatoes is a prime example of a side that can be cooked many different ways: mashed, fried, baked, sauteed, and so on. You can add butter, garlic, herbs, spices, and more to make then taste all sorts of ways. Have fun with it!

YOU MAY ENJOY: Spring Into Healthy Eating with Delicious Muffin Recipes

Include the Kiddos in the Cooking

This is one way to really bring the new way of cooking and eating home… especially with the children. When they are part of the grocery shopping, prepping, and cooking process, they can be more comfortable with what they’re eating. They see it, helped shopped for it, and are helping cook it. Talk about a certain level of accomplishment!

For my homeschooling mamas, you can even have the older kiddos make the grocery list. Kuddos for working in handwriting practice and language arts skills. The younger kiddos can help read the list when at the grocery store. And the littlest kiddos (that are able) can help put groceries in the buggy. They can all help with meal prep by gathering the foods, utensils, and supplies needed… and the age-appropriate children can actually help do the cooking.

It’s a win-win!

Ingredient Ideas for Healthy Eating Beginners

These are all budget-friendly suggestions and can be cooked in a variety ways. Oh, and another quick tip is to grocery shop according to your meal plan. I personally meal plan one week at a time and do our grocery shopping every Sunday for the upcoming week. Pick whatever works for you!

Meats for Main Course:

  • Beef (grassfed is best, or 96/4%)
  • Chicken (free-range)
  • Salmon
  • Tuna

Foods that Can Be Used for Sides:

  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Cauliflower & Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
  • Bell Peppers
  • Salad Greens
  • Beans or Lentils

Dairy:

  • Greek Yogurt
  • Almond Milk
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Eggs

Grains:

  • Bread (wheat)
  • Pasta
  • Tortillas
  • Pita Pockets
  • Rice (brown)
  • Rolled Oats

Fruit:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Oranges

Snacks:

  • Peanuts
  • Raisins
  • Trail Mix

Ingredients for Baking/Frying:

  • Wheat Flour
  • EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • Coconut Oil
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup

This should be enough to get you started on a path to healthy cooking and eating for your family. If you’re looking for new recipes to try, check out my following Pinterest boards:

CHIME IN: What does healthy cooking and eating look like for your family? What are some of your go-to recipes and meals? Share in the comments below!

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