Getting back into your routine this fall with meal planning

(Isabel Williams is a Registered Dietitian and provides her timely advice to Stittsville Central on a regular basis. Her passion is helping clients to build a good relationship with food and their bodies. Isabel has experience counselling on various health conditions, always using a non-diet approach to help people build confidence in their bodies. Isabel provides one-on-one nutrition appointments in-person and virtually. Isabel can be contacted at Brown’s Your Independent Grocer in Stittsville.)

The pandemic disrupted our routines and paused many of the things we love like birthday parties, hockey practice and swimming lessons, and as restrictions ease, ramping back up to our busy schedules can feel daunting – especially when it comes to keeping your family nourished with healthy meals.

As your local Stittsville Registered Dietitian, I am here to help. My key to managing the chaos of busy school and work schedules is meal planning. Getting ahead of your family’s meals will make it easier to grocery shop and answer that nagging question of ‘what’s for dinner?’ while getting your kids out the door, faster. Here are some of my tried and true tips to make meal planning fun for the whole family this fall. 

Plan meals and snacks with your kids – According to Canada’s Food Guide, there are many health benefits to getting kids involved in the meal preparation and cooking process including increased confidence and self-esteem, improved reading and math skills through reading recipes and measuring of ingredients, and development of a greater understanding of what foods are good for overall health. And if you have some picky eaters in the family, involving your kids in meal planning will make them more likely to eat and enjoy their foods. Get your kids involved in the process by having them help decide which favourite recipes and snacks to prepare for the week before you go to the  store.

Prep and simplify your ingredients – Aim to prepare or cook your meals on Sundays (for Monday -Wednesday meals) and Wednesdays (for Thursday – Sunday meals). If you don’t have time to cook, consider pre-chopping vegetables and fruits or preparing your meats with seasoning ahead of time and placing them in the freezer for later use. This will help reduce prep time during the week and save you time packing lunches.

Think beyond the sandwich – Shake up your typical sandwich and try a bento box instead! Bento box lunch kits are such a great way for the kids to have fun and get creative with mixing up their food options. Having the different sections in the lunch kits will also help to ensure that you include food from all food groups to provide your child with a variety of nutrient-dense foods with essential vitamins and minerals needed for energy, growth and development. Consider trying a themed bento box like an Asian noodles inspired box filled with rice noodles and seaweed to start. If you would like to learn more about how to prepare nutritious lunches and snacks to create a healthy routine and raise a food lover I am here to help. As your local Registered Dietitian at Brown’s Your Independent Grocer, I can provide great recipe ideas and offer tips on how to get your kids more involved in the planning through video or phone appointments. To learn more, visit yourindependentgrocer.ca/dietitians.

(Overnight steel cut oats with chia. Steel cut oats take a while to cook stovetop. This mason jar method is a great timesaver and results in a consistency like soaked muesli. This one is topped with blueberries and peaches, but you could use raspberries and apples or any other combination that suits your fancy.)

Overnight Steel Cut Oats with Chia

  • 1/3 cup PC Organics steel cut oats
  • 2/3 cup light soy milk or skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1&1/2 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
  • Berries or chopped fruit optional
  • Dried fruit optional
  • Chopped nuts or nut butter optional

Instructions:

  1. In a Mason jar, mix steel-cut oats with milk. Add chia seeds and mix well. The chia seed will float to the top.
  2. Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours. In the morning, mix chia seeds in with a spoon. Add in honey or maple syrup. Top with fresh berries or fruit, dried fruit, chopped nuts, or nut butter, and enjoy.

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