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Easy Meal Ideas for Busy Families

There are many working moms out there who are superstars both on the job and at home (I’m not going to pretend to be one of them). So, I was a little discouraged  when I learned of  a new study in the journal Child Development that found that the more years a mother works, the more likely her kids are to gain an unhealthy amount of weight. We lead very busy lives with very busy families!

That said, it’s not something we should feel guilty about, but it is a reminder that when we try to juggle everything at once, something’s gotta’ give. And it’s usually our family’s meals (and in a mom’s case, often your workout too). All this means is that it might take a little extra planning and effort to make sure everyone is eating healthy. And it does not have to be complicated.

Here are some smart, easy ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks that the whole family can enjoy and even help you prepare!

Breakfast Ideas

  • Steel-cut oatmeal with apples and cinnamon
  • Whole-wheat waffles served with a little ricotta, maple syrup and peaches. (Can be frozen: no slicing necessary!)
  • Hard-boiled eggs (pre-prepared for the week) sliced on a whole-wheat English muffin with melted cheese. Add a side of berries and this is a great breakfast!
  • High-fiber cereal with a side of fruit for added fiber and vitamins.
  • Whole-grain toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a banana (yummy!)

Lunch

  • A perfect brown-bag lunch for you or the kids: Whole-wheat tortilla roll-ups filled with turkey, spinach and tomatoes. Cut them into “wheels” for the kids. Or make wheels filled with natural peanut butter and bananas or apples.
  • Turkey wrap with crunchy cabbage slaw and creamy white beans mashed with avocado, wrapped in a hearty lavash flatbread. Add a side of fruit and you will be satisfied!
  • Veggie pizzas on whole-grain English muffins. Prep veggies in advance, and all you need to do is cook them in the toaster oven for a few minutes. Want something a little more sophisticated? Try this Margherita Pizza recipe that uses pre-packaged whole-wheat pizza dough.
  • Make skewers of chicken, turkey or tofu with broccoli, cheese and tomatoes. Stick in the fridge for easy grabbing. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Dinner

  • Have a Taco Night. Leave the chicken to cook in the slow cooker and when you get home put out tortillas, along with tortilla chips, salsa, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole and beans. The end result has tons of fiber, protein, calcium and vitamins with very little cooking required. You can also go extra healthy with Ground Turkey Taco Bowls with Cauliflower Spanish Rice (a personal favorite).
  • Veggie burgers (buy frozen) with lettuce, tomatoes and a side of green beans (frozen) and sweet potatoes (get a microwaveable bag in the produce section and in 8 minutes they are done!).
  • Whole-wheat pasta (cooked in advance) with peas, shredded rotisserie chicken (a mom’s best friend!), marinara sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Or try this delicious Chicken and Mushroom Pasta
  • Tofu vegetable stir-fry with brown rice (cooked in advance or frozen).

Snacks

  • Prepare vegetable kebabs (say, peppers, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes — alternate with cheese to add calcium) and fruit kebabs (grapes, strawberries and cantaloupe) on Sunday and stash them in the fridge. Let your little ones help with the prep — kids love anything on a stick!
  • Air-popped corn mixed with dried fruits and nuts. Add some chocolate chips for fun (but just a few).
  • Hard-boiled eggs with hummus. Keep them on a tray in the fridge for easy snacking.
  • Whole-wheat crackers with peanut butter and raisins.

Those are only a few easy and healthy ideas for you to try. Check out my recipe section for many, many more!

What’s your go-to healthy meal?

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