Don’t stress over dinner
A home cooked meal is a surefire way to bring the family together and promote healthy eating habits. But, when long workdays sap your energy, it’s hard to say no to the lure of the drive-through window. These tips will help meals be a time to look forward to, instead of avoid.
Food prepping: Cook now, eat later
Instead of opting for take-out, plan ahead and use Sunday evenings for meal prepping. Preparing and storing multiple meals in advance can cut stress during the week and help with managing portions to prevent overeating.
Storing leftovers and eating them again later will also reduce mealtime stress. You can even use leftovers in creative “kitchen sink” type recipes to avoid monotonous meals.
Reap the benefits of snacking
An empty stomach can lead to bad choices and unwanted stress (we’ve all been “hangry” before). Eating throughout the day, every three or four hours, will keep your blood sugar levels normal and your body and mood at its peak.
Snacks should provide nutritional benefits to increase satiety between meals. It’s best to quell that candy bar craving and snack on foods like fruits, vegetables or nuts.
Don’t count out your kids
It’s important to make mealtime a social and fun time for family interaction, instead of a chore. In fact, this practice may help prevent picky eating.
Children of all ages can help with mealtime, it just takes careful consideration to find age-appropriate tasks. Younger children can help set the table or stir a bowl, while older children can assist with the recipe and gather ingredients. Not only will this help ease the workload you have to do in the kitchen, but your children will feel proud of their efforts to help create a meal or clean-up after dinner.
Go go gadgetry: Let your smartphone help you
Let technology take the hassle out of dinner by downloading apps on your phone or tablet to help around the kitchen. Many apps will create grocery lists from recipes, websites or ingredients you already have in your kitchen. There are numerous other apps like Yummly, Food Network in the Kitchen and BigOven that can increase your culinary skills regardless of kitchen expertise.
Create a dinner-friendly environment
Keep the daily chaos away from the dining room. Turn off the TV to minimize distractions and ditch the piles of newspapers, mail or other things that clutter the dinner table. Dimming the lights can also introduce a calming environment and keep everyone focused on the dinner table and conversations at hand.