I wrote this post as a participant in the Eat Better, Eat Together Balancing Act blog carnival hosted by MealsMatter and Dairy Council of California to share ways families everywhere can make time for family meals that include foods from all the food groups. A list of other registered dietitians and moms who are participating in the Balancing Act blog carnival will be listed at the bottom of this post or can be found at MealsMatter.
Just ask any mom their resourceful strategies for how to put a meal on the table when time is of the essence. Responses will certainly vary, but most moms are conscientious about feeding their family and strive to do their best. Despite our best efforts, it’s wise to anticipate nights when getting to the table together takes some creative thinking, and fast kitchen work – or dialing for takeout!
Planning ahead is the best solution so that items on hand can be used in a pinch. The more we feel pressured and the less we have available at home, the more likely we are to eat out. While eating out can get the job done and offer time together, we both prefer meals at home.
Here are our “in a pinch” favorites:
– Quesadillas – like a sandwich, they can be made with a variety of ingredients, and creativity reigns. Toasted in the skillet or oven, even melted in the microwave, they can offer grains, dairy, protein and vegetables all in one.
– Eggs – a nutrient rich last minute option. Scrambled, over easy, frittatas and omelets, another score for protein, and potentially dairy and vegetables based on your ingredients. Toss some toast and fruit on the side, and you’re good to go!
– Canned tuna – it doesn’t get much easier than omega-3 rich, high protein canned tuna. Stacey loves adding hard cooked eggs to her tuna salad. Enjoy as a sandwich, wrap, or topping for a green salad.
– Macaroni and cheese with baked beans – an odd combo perhaps, but one of Sam’s long time favorites. Providing grains, dairy, fiber and protein with easy additions of fruits and veggies to round it out.
– Soup and sandwich combo – especially grilled cheese with classic tomato soup. Whether canned or homemade, soup is hearty and often provides vegetables, grains and protein. Sandwiches could be filled with hummus and veggies, chicken or tuna salad, deli meats or nut butters.
– Breakfast foods – whole grain waffles & pancakes, yogurt with toppings, fruit and oatmeal or other whole grain cereal are some of our favorites.
– Leftover smorgasbord – pull together remaining leftovers that create a meal. If veggies are missing, use frozen or bagged salad greens as an easy side.
– Heat and eat frozen meals and frozen pizzas – helpful to have on hand when the selection is poor. Watch for sodium and fat content in these packaged options, and consider adding extra veggies to the mix.
Don’t stop here! Other bloggers share their stories and tips on how they juggle the balancing act of getting a well-balanced meal on the table!
10 Commandments for Guilt-Free Feeding – Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD
Beating the Lunch Box Blues – Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD
Dinner Time – Michelle Rowe, RN and Health Educator
Eat Better, Eat Together– Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RD, CDN
Family Dinners Fuel Healthier Kids – Susan Weiner, RD, MS, CDE, CDN
Families that Cook Together Eat Together – Kia Robertson
Making Time for Family Meals: How I’ve Earned My “RDH” – Trina Robertson, MS, RD
Meal Planning: Taking the Stress Out of the ‘What’s for Dinner’– Laura Everage
Pressed for Time? Moms Know Best: Tips for Getting Food on the Table – FAST! – Samantha Lewandowski, MS, RD, LDN
Roasted Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal – Cheri Liefeld
Sunday Night Family Dinner, In the Dining Room – Jill Castle, MS, RD, LDN
The Balancing Act – Ann Dunaway Teh, MS, RD, LD
The Power of Family Meal Time & How to Squeeze It In! – Bridget Swinney MS, RD, LD
The Truth About Family Dinner – Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD
Toughen up: Give Two Choices for Dinner – Take it or Leave it! – Glenda Gourley