I get asked often if I feed the same dinner to my family that I eat for the night. The answer, in short, is yes. I don’t have any desire to make multiple dinners each evening plus I think it is good for my family (especially kids) to be exposed to healthy and different foods at a young age. I am very consistent in putting the same kinds of healthy foods in front of them every week in hopes that they will “latch on” soon. There are days it works and other days it doesn’t.
Our husbands are also a huge factor in what we prepare. Thankfully, my husband enjoys all the healthy foods I prepare and in fact, would prefer me to cook that way as opposed to unhealthy. I realize that not all husbands feel this way. I’ve found many times, though, husbands have a PERCEPTION about what “healthy food” tastes like and are really missing out on eating good foods because they THINK they know what it tastes like. I digress.
Here are 4 ways that I adjust my family’s meals that help us all meet our goals or be satisfied. (Note: These are ways that work for ME and MY fitness and health goals. You have to figure out gets you to where you want to be. This will not work for every family or person!)
This is generally used in the case of my husband. He eats much larger portions to fill up. So instead of 1 chicken breast, he’ll eat 2. Instead of my palm full size of pasta or carbs, it’s his palm full size. I do the same thing with the kids. They generally have anywhere from 3-6 bites of a food they may not attack.
Similar to the quantity above, I change my ratios from my family. So instead of eating a big handful of homemade french fries or a big spoon full of mashed potatoes, I put a very small amount of those on my plate. Then I OVER add on the veggie and protein for the night. So my plate ratios will look a little different than their ratios.
I don’t use a lot of condiments because that usually means extra sugar and calories. My kids and hubby, however, can get away with it. For example, when I make sweet potatoes, I put nothing on them, while they add brown sugar and a bit of butter. They may have ranch to dip some chicken in or use sour cream with their chili. I also don’t use crackers in my soup. This doesn’t mean that I never use condiments though! I do enjoy BBQ sauce, shredded cheese, greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) and different dressings. My rule of thumb is that I always try the food without the added flavors, and if I really feel it needs a kick, I’ll put no more than a tablespoon or two of the condiment on my plate. People can get into big trouble with the dips and condiments they use on their plate. Start inching it back!
Let’s not forget what we drink! I know a lot of families who have a huge glass of milk with their dinner, or a glass of iced tea, and even a glass of wine. My husband and kids usually drink milk with their dinner. I drink water.
I want to encourage you. We set the tone for meals in our house! We pave the way for what is perceived as “normal” for our kids in regards to eating! I know you feel that you are spinning your wheels figuring out healthy foods for everyone to eat, but keep doing it! What your kids are exposed to at an early age is so very important to what they consider normal. Keep at it mama!
What are ways you adjust your nightly meal to meet everyone’s goals and satisfaction?
I think this is so true! If you start young with feeding kids healthy foods they seem to develop a palette that prefers the healthy stuff. My middle one does LOVE sweets but all three of mine love raw veggies, salad, green smoothies, lentils, etc. and I think it’s because they don’t really know otherwise. It seems like it’s harder for older kids who already have preconceived ideas of what smoothies “should” look like (not green!) and it’s harder for them to branch out and try foods that they haven’t been used to eating.
I agree! You need to start kids young. My youngest is not yet 2 and all three love and will eat all fresh veggies without dip. I keep them in the fridge cutup and they grab when hungry. They almost always have half veggies at meal time. They LOVE green smoothies! But I tell alot of moms who are shocked at how my kids eat that its not too late for there’s. Let them have dips with them and gradually they will eat more and probably less dip. Just to keep adding them.
My girls shy away from salads so while Daniel and I eat salad before they have fruit. I say “You need plant product.”…if it grew out of the ground or on a tree eat it! Lol!
Love this post! I couldn’t agree more about starting them young, I’ve been trying my hardest over the years to serve one dinner with a couple minor variations here & there & I truly think its paid off. My 5 year old daughter is now asking for her own salad every night because she sees me having me having one at almost every meal – love it! Your posts always inspire me, thank you!
Excellent post Clare! I NEED to do this! I just pinned it 😉 Thanks chick!
This blog post was so encouraging to me. I’ve been fighting my menfolk on using condiments, and it’s nice to see that you go without but let your family enjoy them. My boys will give you a big hug for that one!
I agree with everything, especially #1. For the Beverage thing, we started many months ago with our kids that they can have their cup of milk, water, or OJ in the morning with breakfast, apple juice for lunch, and milk at dinner-if they haven’t had it for breakfast-or water. ((Our kids are older, and they get milk in other things throughout the day, so they’re not deprived.)) And we all have our own bottle of water to drink from through the day.
I really enjoyed reading this post. I am 32 and just really starting to get serious with exercising and eating healthier. My problem is that I have 4 children ages 7-13 who are somewhat picky eaters to begin with. It seems every time I try to have what I believe is a healthy meal no one hardly eats. I so wished I would have started them out eating healthier, but I didn’t, so what now. How do I do it with them at these ages??? Please help
I would say, one meal at a time! At these ages you can bring them to the store with you and make it an experience that you can all enjoy. Get them involved as much as possible, including your weekly meal planning. Start a family initiative to get healthy and get their ideas! Let them help in cooking and preparing as well.
I think at this age, ownership will be important and leading by example. I doubt stuffing it down their throat will encourage anything. Don’t forget to pray about it and don’t expect results over night! Good luck!
I learned about quantity earlier this year when I got more serious about my food and fitness choices. Instead of just a couple pounds lost here and there, then regained, I finally got into a much healthier weight range. Portion sizes are really important!
Ratio is something I’ve been looking at lately since I loooove veggies but the guys of the house find them so-so. While I’m dishing up the food, why don’t I just grab what I like best? 🙂
I do like some condiments and will spice up leftovers from blah to interesting with a little bit of salad dressing on top. Moderation is the key there. Sometimes the leftovers just need to stay as they are. 😉
And I’m a tea drinker with blood sugar issues, so sugary drinks are out of the running for me most of the time. I’ll allow myself a small amount of honey to sweeten my tea (while properly bringing out the flavour) but that’s mostly because of the health benefits of honey.