Managing Family Meals

daughter feeding her mother a cherry tomato with father looking on

Today's busy lifestyle may have you wondering how well your family is eating. Does your family eat breakfast before running off for the day? Do you pack healthy lunches? Are you having family dinners together? Like many families, you might find meal planning a challenge! Here are some ways you can make improvements to your family's meals.

Plan ahead!

Planning what you eat makes it easier to cook more often. You might find it easier to plan for a couple of days or for a whole week at a time. Do what works for you. There are many benefits to including others in your planning and preparation, including sharing food and cooking traditions and important foods skills. Try these menu planning tools to get you started.

Have breakfast every day!

Eating breakfast provides energy to get you going. For a quick breakfast for the family:

  • Enjoy oatmeal or whole grain cereal with milk, topped with fresh, frozen or canned fruit.
  • Cook up a poached or scrambled egg in the microwave. Have it on whole grain toast with sliced tomato.
  • Make a smoothie with yogurt and fresh, frozen or canned fruit.

Take a healthy lunch!

A missed meal may cause overeating later in the day. When planning lunches for the family, you can use the proportions on the Eat Well Plate as a guide.

For a balanced lunch try: Cheesy Chicken Crunchie Quesadillas: Serve this up with apple slices and a glass of milk. Mini Pizza Sandwiches: This sweet and tangy vegetarian version is colourful but can be changed up to the taste of each child. Soy Butter and Banana Roll: Your kids will love this twist on the traditional peanut butter and banana sandwich. Tuna Mini Sandwiches: Instead of buying packaged convenience food containers, make your own! Pack the different parts of this “sandwich” for lunch at school. For more healthy lunch ideas just for kids, read Packing Healthy School Lunches.

Make healthy snacks!

Having healthy snacks on hand will mean less snacking on unhealthy foods.

  • Prepare a fruit plate with sliced melons, apples, pears, orange sections and pineapples. Use vanilla yogurt as a dip.
  • Serve raw vegetables like celery and cucumbers with peanut butter.
  • Blend up a fruit smoothie with fruit and plain yogurt.
  • Have a hardboiled egg with whole grain crackers.
  • Try hummus with pita bread triangles and baby carrots.
  • Choose whole grain crackers with a small amount of lower fat cheese cubes and apple slices.
  • Have a small bowl of whole grain cereal with milk.

Make ONE supper meal for the whole family!

Make meals that most family members will enjoy and avoid becoming a short order cook. Avoid too many fast food or prepackaged meals.

  • Here are some fast and easy meals you can try:
  • Serve cooked chicken with bagged salad, baby carrots and whole grain buns.
  • Cook once and have two meals. Make up a batch of soup or stew or two lasagnas instead of one. Freeze extras for a meal another day.

Visit the Unlock Food recipe section for lots of dinner ideas.

Bottom line

Managing family meals can be a challenge, but with a little planning you can create healthy eating habits that will become routine. Planning ahead goes a long way and don’t forget to get the whole family involved! 

You may also be interested in:

Unlock Food Recipes
Make a balanced breakfast a habit in your home
Parent and Caregivers Influence on Children’s Eating Habits

Last Update – November 24, 2020

Phone Icon

Dietitians look beyond fads to deliver reliable, life-changing advice. Want to unlock the potential of food? Connect with a dietitian.