Quick Meals without cooking

Go-To Meals without cooking

This post is about getting something to eat for your child at the absolute last minute, because everything went wrong. When it all goes wrong, you need to have some back-ups that you can rely on and still feel good about. The foundation for having a good store of options in place when time evaporates is being a savvy consumer and making the right decisions at the grocery store. It is more expensive, but try to buy organic. Trend toward whole, unprocessed foods.

Unfortunately the best meals take time. Most foods are just better when they get to hang out and simmer for a long while. Which means that parents and consequently their kids are the most challenged to get something healthy and delicious on the table. The following foods are the best go-to fast foods we have found. I’m not recommending that you take these foods and make them your diet. You should still find time to cook the finer things in life that take hours in the oven or the grill. But in today’s hectic rush of insanity that is life - find a middle ground and go to easy options when you have to.

To create a tasty, fast and well-rounded meal take an item from each list and put the three together on a plate:

A. Fresh cut fruits and vegetables (In order of acceptance by picky eaters)

  1. Carrots

  2. Grapes

  3. Oranges

  4. Apples

  5. Spinach

  6. Strawberries

  7. Blueberries

  8. Blackberries

  9. Cherry Tomatoes

    B. Proteins

    1. Smoked Salmon

    2. High quality cheese

    3. Walnuts, Pecans, Cashews

    4. Eggs (I’m counting them even though they need to be cooked. It takes 5 minutes!)

    5. hummus

    C. Grains

    1. Whole wheat bread

    2. Whole grain frozen waffles

    3. Whole wheat tortillas

I can’t tell you how many times this ingredient list has saved us. From the items above, you can create salads, burritos, breakfast for dinner, sandwiches and bowls. Choose your own adventure and let your kids choose theirs as well!

For fun and easy recipes…

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Our system for food delivery.

  1. Start variety early. We were lucky to live close to a rockstar indian place when my wife was pregnant with both boys. Their tastes really do begin in utero. The healthier and more exotic you can eat as a new mom to be - the better.

  2. Involve the children. As soon as they could walk, we had the kids up on the stove top stirring and on the countertop playing with dough and mixing.

  3. Get your staples dialed. Your ingredient list is your shopping list. You need to walk in the direction of more plants and less processed foods. The American grocery store is a wonderful place, but it is amazing how easily wheat thins and potato chips are to put in that cart. Stay strong!

  4. Teach the connections. Your food is an amazing place to start learning about supply chains, the environment, people, the value of work, globalization, local economies, the water cycle - and I’m just getting started. Use your meal preparation time to teach some wonder!

  5. Practice consistency and balance. It is a balancing act. You have to provide healthy options - more plants, less processed food. But you also have to stay consistent over years! That is a monumental task that will be accomplished by choosing a direction and walking that way. You need to look at this as a journey. That means getting into the nitty gritty and focusing just on each little step in front of you. Don’t worry about anything else. As long as you are stepping in the right direction you will get there.

You are not alone in wanting, trying and accomplishing the monumental task of bringing healthy food to your family’s table. Society is stacked against us, but we are making lots of progress. By making healthy choices, you are setting up your children and yourself for success. It is amazing how many of our struggles with our children come from nutrition. They may be cranky, mean, excited and awnry. And guess what? It is because of what they ate, didn’t eat or if the slept or not.

Let's eat Healthy!

Setting the Mood for food…

Setting the mood for dinner is hard. It has taken us three years to change a food related behavior. Kids are in control of what they eat, and they know it. Our relationship with the foods we eat is crucial to our success in life, and the dinner table is the proving ground which puts all strategies of parenthood to the test.

The dinner table is emotional. Our oldest son had an ongoing issue that had him in and out of doctor’s offices. He is fine now, but needless to say one of the most worrying things on our mind during that time was nutrition. Kids need to eat healthy to be healthy right?

All kids, including this one, need to eat more fruits and vegetables. We started there. I’m telling you it has taken 3 years for this kid to consistently eat spinach, and seven years to start liking bananas. There is a whole list of fruits and vegetables we are still working on.

Healthy eating habits basically come down to consistency. Healthy eating is bar none one of the hardest things to change. The whole family has to be on board to some degree, and the parents have to work together. There are many many opportunities to sabotage even the best laid plans, as every dieter knows. Here are some rules we try to live by. After each rule I’ve listed a number on a scale of 1 (worst) to ten (best) on how firm we are on these rules.

  1. Water is the drink of choice (9)

    • The children have their own water bottles, and so do the parents. The children have to be responsible for their water bottles and there is water available at all times.

  2. Eat green with every meal. (5)

    • We try to present at least raw spinach or cut fruit with every meal. While it may be present, the children don’t always eat it. That is OK, but the expectation is set that they at least have to eat some.

  3. Low availability of sugar and processed foods (6)

    • This one is easy to sabotage. The parents want their dark chocolate too! We let everyone have as many pieces as they have decades of life. Dad gets 4! However, one trip to the grocery store can throw everything out of balance because Dad comes home with potato chips or Mom comes home with ice cream.

It is important to note that we try not talk about being fat or skinny with our kids. We don’t want them to become obsessed with that, and they easily do. We try to frame our language around the principles of eating healthy, being strong, and living a long and healthy life. We use real world examples, like one Grandpa who can’t eat sugar anymore because he is close to having diabetes. And another Grandpa who rides his mountain bike two hours a day. Both Grandpa’s have lots of other good and bad habits to share and teach. The children love them both, but that love helps frame the conversation and make the children concerned both for their elders and themselves.

Again, healthy eating is a huge challenge for no-time, no-sleep, crazy parents. This is the one part of children’s lives where they have some control. They will want to use that control! It is not about obedience. It is about setting the tone, getting in for the long haul, and creating a system that works for your family to maintain balance. Next post: Our System.

For fun and easy recipes …

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