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How to Make Healthy Meals for My Family

How to Make Healthy Meals for My Family - Proline Range Hoods

Making healthy meals can be daunting. I've always wrestled with how to make healthy meals for my family. With so much processed fast food readily available, it can be easy to prioritize convenience over your health. Maybe you work 9-5, or even 50 or 60-hour weeks.

You get home and you just don’t have the energy to cook healthy meals. So, instead, you head over to McDonald’s to keep your kids satisfied, but leave feeling guilty that you can’t provide them with healthy food.

Or perhaps you’re a single parent. You drop your kids off at daycare (and who knows what they’re being fed at daycare?) and then you pick them up and again: it’s been a long day, you’re feeling drained, and you forgot to make that trip to the grocery store that was so needed.

We’re here to give you peace of mind. With our recipes and tips, you won’t have to worry anymore about providing your kids, family, and yourself with healthy meals.

Even with so much unhealthy food available, grocery stores have everything you need to make healthy family meals. You just have to know what to buy and what to make.

This article will give you several healthy recipes for yourself, for two, for your kids, for large families, and more – breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

How do I start cooking healthy for my family?

Kids cooking with their mom - how to make healthy meals for my family

Block time out of your day for cooking.

When raising a family, cooking is a necessity. It’s not practical nor cost-effective to take the kids out to eat every day. All you need to do is realize this and set aside some time in your day to devote to crafting some nutritious meals.

Maybe you’re just learning cooking, so you need to spend a little more time creating your routine – or if you’re an avid cook already it might take a little less time.

Just do some reflection and thinking and figure out how much time you have to spend every day and go from there. Then, it becomes part of your day as opposed to a burden or an additional thing you have to do.

Cooking family dinner doesn't have to take all day, either. Let’s talk about a few ways to massively reduce the amount of time it takes and streamline the whole process so your family can eat well and you don’t have to sacrifice hours each week to make it happen.

Buy a variety of food.

Too much of almost any one thing isn't healthy – and it's certainly boring. Be sure to buy all different types of food: starch, chicken, meat, salads, fruits, vegetables, healthy snacks like granola or yogurts, berries, nuts, and much more. This is especially important to keep the kids satisfied.

Veggies on skewers and bratwurst

Sure it's easy to eat the same thing every day, but will the kids like it? My guess is no. So, try for some variety! But keep this in mind too...

Strive for a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables.

Two Kids cutting fruits and vegetables

Variety is good and with variety comes balance. Be sure you're eating all the different types of foods in healthy quantities. But there are so many food pyramids out there.

Most pyramids suggest eating mainly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, with some dairy and protein mixed in each day. They also suggest that you limit the amount of sweets and saturated fats you eat.

One of my favorite, and one of the most thorough food “pyramids'' that I’ve come across, comes from Australia. In this article written by a design professional, he critiques today's food pyramid and suggests we follow Australia's healthy eating plan.

eatforhealth.gov.au

Lead by example.

If you’re eating unhealthy, you’ll provide them with unhealthy food. Kids follow their parents' lead, so they’ll begin to develop unhealthy habits. But no need to worry: you can form a healthy habit too!

If you struggle with healthy eating, just start small. Maybe you want to limit yourself to just eating out once or twice a week. Maybe you start by adding just one serving of fruits and vegetables a day to your existing eating habits. Whatever will successfully start is what you should do.

Then over time, you’ll develop a habit and make more changes and continue to eat more healthily! You’ll see this have an impact on your kid’s eating habits too. After all, they only eat what you make!

What are some healthy meals for kids?

We'll start with breakfast and walk you through a typical day with some nutritious meals for your family that are easy to make too!

Breakfast

Balanced Breakfast with Eggs, Sasuage, Coffee, and Toast

A balanced breakfast is so important to start the day off right.

For kids young and old, Denver omelets are a great option. A Denver omelet is an omelet with diced ham, green bell peppers, and onions. I like to add mushrooms in mine as well. You can always go with the standard fried or scrambled eggs, but this way, your kids get some of their vegetables to start off their day!

If you're looking for something a little heavier, you can add cheese too – but this is optional. My favorite is cheddar.

Denver Omelet with Mushrooms

Time to make: 5 minutes or less

Ingredients

  • 2-3 eggs
  • Onions
  • Green peppers
  • Red peppers (optional)
  • Mushrooms (optional)
  • Cheddar cheese (optional)

Without the cheese, you can cut down on your calorie intake. If you're not one for omelets, try oatmeal and yogurt, too! You can add all kinds of fruits and veggies to either of those for a healthy and quick option that everybody loves.

Oatmeal and Yogurt

Uncooked Oats and Almonds in a Bowl

Oatmeal Ingredients

Servings Amount of Milk or Water Amount of Salt Oats
1 1 cup dash ½ cup
2 1 ¾ cups ⅛ tsp 1 cup
6 5 cups ¼ tsp 3 cups

Time to make: 10 minutes

  • Bring water or milk to a boil.
  • Add oats and let them cook for 5-6 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Remove from the heat, cover it with a lid and let it sit for 2-3 minutes.
2 Bowls of Yogurt with Granola and Blueberries

Oatmeal is healthy mainly because oats are 100% whole grains. For some added sweetness, I love to add a little brown sugar, too. But not too much!

Yogurt

Yogurt is a really easy breakfast meal too. I recommend original yogurt since it doesn't have a lot of calories to begin with. Original Yoplait Yogurt, for example, has 170 calories and 1.5g of fat, while their Light yogurt has 90 calories and 0 grams of fat.

Unless you eat several yogurts a day, the original yogurt is great to implement into your diet. Otherwise, go with nonfat or light!

Lunch

Bowl of Chicken Nuggets on a bed of lettuce

Now onto lunch. What kid do you know that doesn't LOVE chicken nuggets? I found this great easy recipe online that's just three steps. It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare these delicious nuggets and your kids will love them. And they are actually healthy. Yeah!

Check out the recipe below.

Ingredients - Homemade Chicken Nuggets
https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/homemade-chicken-nuggets-3416573

And here are the instructions:

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/homemade-chicken-nuggets-3416573

And of course, there's the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup combo that everyone loves. But it’s in the spicing up of these sandwiches that really makes people happy and allows your family to enjoy a custom meal!

I love to add ham to mine, and this way you can give your kids the protein they need.

I also found a great recipe for shrimp grilled cheese here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 2 slices sprouted grain bread (used Trader Joes Sprouted 7 Grain Bread)
  • 1.5 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 large pre-cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp, defrosted

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat butter on a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Place two slices of toast on a buttered skillet and top each slice evenly with cheddar cheese.
  3. While the bread is toasting, place the shrimp on the skillet to heat for a minute or two.
  4. Add warm shrimp to one slice of toast and nestle it into the melted cheese.
  5. Using a spatula, pick up bread with just the cheese and press it into the side with the shrimp to make a grilled cheese sandwich.
  6. Remove from skillet when golden brown on both sides and slice with a serrated knife, if desired.

All you need is shrimp, cheese, bread, and butter. You can use whatever cheese you like. This writer used extra sharp cheddar to give her sandwich a little kick.

And she used Trader Joe's Sprouted 7 Grain Bread for the bread. But of course, any whole wheat, whole grain, or multi-grain bread are good options for your grilled cheese.

You can actually find this bread on Amazon here.

Dinner

Chicken and Rice Bowl

The day's almost over and it's time for dinner. But no need to stress, thanks to my chicken teriyaki rice bowl.

White Rice

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup of white rice
  • Chicken tenders or chopped boneless skinless chicken breasts (4-6 ounces per person)
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 sliced pepper
  • Special sauce
Instructions
  1. Place two cups of water into a pan and bring the water to a boil.
  2. Cover the rice and reduce the heat. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. While the rice is simmering, you can make the vegetables and your special sauce. If you don't want to use the restaurant-style teriyaki sauce, you can use Yoshida's, but it is not as thick.
  4. Chop 1 onion and 1 pepper and put them into a large stir-fry pan.
  5. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and cook on high heat until the vegetables are slightly brown and appear crispy.

Pro tip: You can also add three cloves of minced garlic for extra flavor or a tablespoon of store-bought minced garlic.

Note: Stir-frying produces a lot of smoke and heat, so hopefully you’ve got a powerful range hood to improve your kitchen ventilation. As you'll be cooking on such a high-heat, be careful not to overcook the vegetables.

One thing I love about this recipe is there is no need to use instant rice, which is often dehydrated and includes preservatives.

Enjoy!

What should I cook for a family of 8?

Large, Long Table set with plates, forks, napkins, and wine glasses

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This was probably the first recipe you thought of. It's a great family dinner recipe.

It's so easy to make, and it's easy to make a lot. Even with a family of 8, spaghetti can last you several meals. It doesn't take a lot of extra time to make it in bulk, either. Meatballs are great to add in for extra protein.

Also, I find that most recipes include cooked frozen meatballs, and these aren't nearly as good as fresh meatballs. You can find these from the butcher at your local store. All you need to do is fry these in a medium-sized pan with some olive oil until they are cooked all the way through.

I didn't forget about sauce...keep reading to learn how to make a simple sauce, brought to you by the New York Times!

Pizza

Man Slicing Pizza

Where I'm from, I can get Bobili pizza crust from the store. It tastes great and once you've got the crust, you just need to decide on what you want in your pizza. The first thing to add is your marinara sauce, which can be spread evenly across the crust. Then you add mozzarella cheese.

This is the base ingredient for your pizza. Now you can add whatever you like: red peppers, green peppers, olives, tomatoes, pepperoni, sausage, and more. For a more healthy family dinner, you can make this vegetarian and go light on the cheese.

And you can get everyone in helping to make this one as well. Some great memories will be made as your family all cooks together.

Another benefit of getting the kids in the kitchen to help cook meals? Foods that kids help make, kids will eat!

Easy Dinner Recipes for Beginners

Before we dive into the easy dinner recipes for beginners, here's a quick and easy tip. Invest in an instant pot – you can make soups, spaghetti, chicken, pork, for sliders, tacos, and much more.

If you don’t already have one, check this one out before you dive into our recipes.

We wrote an article on 20 of the most popular and delicious instant pot recipes which you can check out here.

Whether you love your instant pot or not, these are for you:

Tri Tip - French Dip

  1. Season the meat with Lawry's from Amazon, salt and pepper, or your favorite seasonings.
  2. Preheat the oven to 550 degrees.
  3. Once the oven is preheated, turn it down to 325 and immediately put the tri-tip in for exactly 40 minutes. I've been doing this for years and it comes out great! I like my steak medium-rare, but just add or take away a couple of minutes and watch the steak if you want to cook it differently.
  4. Let the steak rest for 10 to 15 minutes, and serve!

You can find your tri-tip cut of meat at a local grocery store.

Now to make the french dip. All you need is a good au jus seasoning packet from Amazon and simply follow the printed instructions. Most packets just require you to add water!

If you want to add more to your french dip, sauteed onions and peppers are great. Swiss cheese is delicious, too. Tri-tip is great for family dinners. I usually feed about four people, but it depends on the size of the cut of meat. It's great for just one or two people, too. Just save some for leftovers.

Finally, buy some hoagie rolls, whatever bread you love, and you're set!

Spaghetti with Fresh Meatballs

spaghetti and meatballs

Spaghetti was too easy to put in here just once. Here's where I promised to reveal an easy, classic marinara sauce recipe that is great for beginners.

Homemade sauce is delicious, but it takes hours to simmer and a lot of prep time. Instead, try this simple marinara sauce from the New York Times. It's just four steps and takes under 30 minutes!

Easy Healthy Meals

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Fries and veggies on the side

All you need for this recipe are some boneless chicken breasts and a bun. I love to add swiss cheese and sauteed onions, but you can add whatever suits your fancy!

Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Carrots

Roasted Whole Chicken

For this recipe, you can use chicken breasts, a half chicken, or even a whole chicken (cut it into halves, though!)

What You Need

  • Chicken breasts, a half chicken, or a whole chicken
  • Potatoes (white or red russet potatoes work great)
  • Chopped carrots

Instructions

  1. Drizzle the chicken, potatoes, and carrots with olive oil.
  2. Season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Set a timer for 50 minutes and place the chicken only on a baking sheet and set it in the oven.
  5. 10 minutes later, add the potatoes.
  6. ...then the carrots.
  7. Once the timer goes off, remove it from the oven and cover it with foil.
  8. Let the chicken sit for 10-15 minutes and then serve!

Quesadilla

Chicken Quesadillas

A quesadilla is really quick and easy. The recipe can be whatever you want it to be, too! If you're vegetarian, you can hold the cheese and add some mixed vegetables like peppers, onions, and tomatoes. If not, feel free to add a protein in there like chicken or steak!

Note: Cheese adds up in terms of calories, so if you want to watch those, limit the amount of cheese in your quesadilla.

7 Day Healthy Eating Plan (Individual)

We talked a little bit about getting started on making healthy meals. But talking about it and doing it are two different things. Luckily, you can execute your healthy cooking with a plan.

Buy a daily planner or make one yourself and start to build different types of meals throughout the week. You can use some of the recipes for kids and family dinner recipes here to get you started and incorporate some of your own meals, too!

The family dinner recipes can be scaled down to fit your portions and, of course, you can modify any kids' recipe as you see fit too. Or keep them as they are and have loads of leftovers. I like leftovers because they mean i have less food prep to do in the coming days.

Note: When creating your meal plan, don't forget about snacks! I'm not talking about junk food here. Try to avoid or limit the chips and sweets that you eat. But healthy snacks like a fruit salad or fresh veggies like carrots, celery, and broccoli are great. Don’t forget the nuts, berries and seeds as well.

Don't feel guilty to add a little ranch too, but just don't overdo it. This is a great way to get your kids to eat their veggies too. Speaking of kids, let's talk about a 7-day family meal plan.

How to Make a 7 Day Family Meal Plan

To make a 7-day family meal plan, follow these steps:

  1. Brainstorm ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can even think about snacks or desserts here too. You’ll need to plan out 21 meals – three meals a day for seven days – at minimum.
  2. Start making a list of items that you’ll need from the store and how much you’ll need. Once you have written out at least 21 meals (be sure to include repeat meals for the next step), it’s time to shop.
  3. Decide on a date and how frequently you want to shop. Once a week, once every two weeks, or less frequently? This step is up to your personal preference, but to save time, shop for at least a couple of weeks at a time.
Planner to Write Down Meals

If you want more information on making a 7 day meal plan for your family, we have a full article on this topic!

Additional Tips and Tricks to Make Healthy Meals For Your Family

Family Sitting Down to Dinner and Man Scooping Spaghetti

Share your meal plan with the kids.

If you're cooking for kids, it's a good idea to be transparent. How many times have they been disappointed with the food that you've prepared? You can't always prevent their disappointment, but you can set some boundaries and be clear about what they should expect every day for food, when they should expect it, when they get a snack, etc.

If you're married, split grocery shopping with your spouse.

Taking on the responsibility of food can be time-consuming and stressful, especially with multiple kids. So, to save yourself some stress, split grocery shopping with your partner!

Don't entirely neglect the desserts.

Making healthy family meals is hard. Getting your kids to eat those meals is even more difficult. So incorporate a dessert every day, every other day, or less often depending on your habits.

This is a great reward system for your kids. It can keep them behaving well and this way, you're giving them something to look forward to.

Set aside a night or two for your favorite meal.

Make a spaghetti night or a taco night, or a grilled cheese night – whatever you love! Assign it to a day and you and your family will have something to look forward to. You'll enjoy that meal together every week.

Learn a new recipe every month.

This will keep you on your toes so you don't settle with the foods that only you like, or the ones that you think are the easiest to make. Keep coming up with dinner ideas!

This way you keep the variety and every member of your family will love the different foods you bring to the table!

On shopping day, buy some prepared food for the night's meal.

Shopping day can be stressful. If you spend an hour or even longer shopping for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and whatever else you need, chances are you won't want to come home and cook for your whole family.

So, look around the store for some prepared foods. My favorite is roasted chicken. It's really easy and you can pair it with some baked beans or potato salad.

Shop for at least a week's worth of groceries at a time.

If you're going to devote time to crafting healthy family meals, you'll want to spend as little time at the grocery as possible. I recommend buying at least a week's worth of groceries so you don't have to visit two to three times a week. Work your way up to buying two week’s worth of groceries at one time. Your time is valuable and frequent trips to the store really add up!

Make a shopping list before you leave for the store.

When you get into the store, it's easy to forget something – and it happens a lot! A list can solve this problem and keep you from getting tempted to buy other sweets and unhealthy snacks, too!

When you get to the store, stick to the list!

Unless you enjoy spending time at the store, which at times I do, stick to your list. Get in and get out! It's cheaper and faster. This will allow you to get on with other things and unhealthy foods won’t find their way into your cart and your house.

How to Make Time for Healthy Meals

Man pushing spices into pan

This is a trick question. As you can hopefully see by this point in the article, a lot of healthy meals don't take that much time to prepare! Healthy eating is more of a mindset than a time sink. The time it takes shouldn't hold you back.

Yes, it's not as quick as buying a McDouble from McDonald's, but what’s the hassle of 10 minutes to make a veggie quesadilla? Everyone can spare 10 minutes in their day.

Making a family meal plan will help increase your efficiency, too. You won't have to decide what you are going to eat every day.

Developing other healthy habits will help you find time for healthy meals too. You won't see it as a chore to cook healthy meals; rather it will become part of your lifestyle.

What else can I do to stay healthy?

man on a bike on the road staying healthy

Be active!

Try to exercise two to three times a week, even for just short amounts of time. Run, go to the gym, do some yoga, soccer, basketball...whatever you like! Just find something that you can commit to over time.

With consistent exercise, you'll start to become more conscious of what you put into your body. A triple burger from McDonald’s probably won't sit well after a four-mile run. So in a way, the exercise will do some work for you by helping you form healthy eating habits.

Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.

Occasional drinking shouldn't result in any negative effects, but too much alcohol can result in liver damage, heart damage, and slurred speech, among other drastic effects on the body.

Consider not drinking for a time. See how it makes you feel. I know a few people who don’t drink at all after they started on a health kick and they have never looked back. And you can save quite a bit of money too!

In Summary

Between healthy eating and exercise, you'll be well on your way to crafting healthy habits and leading a healthy lifestyle.

We have a wide variety of dinners for everyone – picky eaters or not. Are you lactose intolerant? No problem; just cook your quesadillas without the cheese. Do you like tomatoes? Add them to your vegetarian pizza! Are you gluten-free? Try our spaghetti and meatballs with gluten-free pasta!

It's really easy to personalize these recipes to fit your needs.

Hopefully, you enjoyed this list of healthy recipes that you can cook together with your family or on your own. Subscribe to our blog if you liked this article!

Related Articles

How many calories should I eat per meal to lose weight?

How to Make a 7 Day Family Meal Plan

How to Make Homemade Baby Food

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