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Healthy Eating Plan

Healthy Eating Plan: Changes Your Family Can Make Today

Having a family is probably one of the most challenging jobs bestowed upon us; we work, we cook, we clean, we pay our bills, we organize, we take the kids to piano or soccer practice, and if that is not enough pressure, we dream about becoming perfect at everything. From making delicious healthy meals, to walking into a perfectly immaculate and organized home, to always providing the right answers to life’s most burdensome questions, we are constantly trying to keep up with expectations.

And just when you thought you had a few extra minutes to unburden yourself with life’s chores, we now have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumbler, and Snapchat, to expose us to all the admirable things everyone else is doing. It’s true that we put a lot of effort into attempting to be foolproof in life, but in reality, at the end of the day, we are exhausted from trying so hard, hungry due to our constant dieting, and with little or no time to accomplish any of the above, well except for maybe checking Facebook.

So how can we overcome our daily obstacles and accomplish at least a fraction of what we dream about every day? As a dietitian and mother of two college students, I am here to share a few healthy eating tips that have worked not only for my own family, but also for many of the individuals I encounter every day.

The Real Deal

Let’s face it, you may not become the next domestic diva, but by starting with some simple steps today, you can actually make some impressive and lasting improvements for your tomorrow. Before anything else, take a deep breath and relax; remember that anything that is valuable takes time and patience for it to be established. Now that we are calm and collected, let’s get started with some healthy planning tips so you can make some of those dreams happen today!

Planning Gets You to Places… Faster

You won’t start a road trip without first finding your fastest route in your GPS, right? Well, planning healthy meals requires some preparation so that you can, with time, shine in this department. Start by getting a few meal ideas in writing and running them by your family. This not only gets your creative juices flowing, but it also introduces another opportunity for your family to connect. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated, simply try to include at least three different food groups in each meal and at least two different options for snacks. For a few easy ideas that will help you get your menu started, take a look at the sample, healthy eating plan I have included in the table below. Feel free to swap meals or make any substitutions depending on your schedule and dietary needs.

Get Organized in the Kitchen

Once you have a plan in motion, it’s time to take inventory of what you already have in hand. I usually recommend that you start by organizing your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator. If you can devote at least one hour a day to this important task, you will have accomplished the first step in your journey to becoming a better healthy meals cook.

If you are unable to devote five hours a week to complete this task, invite your family to help out, and if not during the week, then during the weekend. Decide on a weekend when everyone will be home and delegate cleaning and organizing tasks. One member could create labels while the other one retrieves items from the shelves. Grab a drawer or a cabinet and start by taking everything out. Then discard everything that is no longer edible. Also, grab a bag or a box and place all the unopened cans and jars of food that have not expired, that you don't plan on using, and donate them to a food pantry. Next, move to the refrigerator. Pull everything out from each shelf and only put back the items that are unexpired and that you know you will use in your cooking and meal preparation.

I know this is not an easy task, but you may even get inspired to prepare a few meals once you start finding all of the wonderful foods you already had in your cabinets and refrigerator. I am always amazed at how many meals I can make with what I have in hand.

Get the Cooking Party Started!

Once you have some order in the kitchen, it’s time to shop for the menu items for the week. Make a list of the items you will need and gather any coupons you may have for the ingredients in your planned meals. Every night, take inventory of what you have on hand and what meals you can prepare for the next day. Then pull out all of the non-perishable ingredients and any equipment you may need for your meal, such as bowls, pots and pans, or measuring cups and spoons.

This can make the cooking start up less complicated. Somehow just by seeing some of the ingredients and equipment lined up on your kitchen counter, this can help to boost your motivation to cook, making the recipe preparation enjoyable, faster, and easier.

Recipe Preparation 101

Whether you are a pro in the kitchen or a rookie, you may benefit from a few meal preparation tips. Here are some of my top meal preparation tips: always read the entire recipe before you start pulling out all of the ingredients. Then, once you know what you will need, pull out the necessary ingredients and equipment. Another great tip is to make sure there aren’t any ingredients (in the recipe) you don’t recognize. Hard to find ingredients are better for someone with more experience in the kitchen. Sometimes those ingredients can be expensive and your family may not like them. So start with easy simple recipes with ingredients you are familiar with, and then you can move to more complex recipes once you are a master in your own kitchen.

Do any possible pre-preparation steps ahead of time, such as chopping or measuring the night before. For example, when I make my favorite rosemary chicken recipe, I place the five ingredients (chicken breast, rosemary leaves, lemon juice, sliced red onions, and olive oil) in a plastic bag and leave the ingredients marinating overnight in the refrigerator. Then, I can either place all of the ingredients in a slow cooker in the morning, or in the oven right when I get home. I particularly love the slow cooker not only because it makes dinner while I am away from home, but it also produces captivating and appetizing aromas when we walk through the door.

I hope some of these ideas help make your everyday cooking much easier. When cooking is easier, your healthy eating plan becomes simpler to follow as well!

Sample of a One Week Healthy Eating Plan:

Recipes in the table above:

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

For more tips about healthy eating plans, visit the Healthy Lifestyle section of this blog.

Sylvia Meléndez Klinger, MS, RD, LDN, CPT is founder of Hispanic Food Communications, Inc., a nutrition and food communications consulting company. A Hispanic native who is a leading expert in cross-cultural Hispanic cuisine as it relates to nutrition and health, Sylvia uses her in-depth culinary and cultural expertise to introduce new strategies for wellness to an increasingly health-conscious Hispanic population. For more than a decade, Sylvia has been a consultant for major food, beverage and pharmaceutical companies and non-profit organizations.


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