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10 Easy and Healthy Meals for the Whole Family

March 5, 2024
10 Easy and Healthy Meals for the Whole Family

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In this article:

  • Cooking at home benefits health and weight management, but cooking for a family can be challenging.
  • In most cases, it’s possible to serve one meal to the whole family that’s healthy and palatable.
  • Use nutritious ingredients and add extra vegetables to your plate while limiting excess carbohydrates.
  • Lark can help you lose weight with or without GLP-1s as you log food, get tips for eating healthier, and make small changes that can turn into healthy habits.

Cooking at home can help you lose weight and eat healthier, but there can be a lot to consider when cooking for your entire family. It needs to be healthy for you, tasty for everyone else, and kid-friendly if you have little ones around.

Serving separate meals for different household members can be time-consuming, so it’s best to make one meal that everyone can enjoy when possible. Here are 10 healthy and easy meals that your whole family can enjoy together.

1. Salad bar

Set out a variety of options for everyone to choose from. Foundations might include lettuce, spinach, or mixed greens. Put out ingredients like snap peas, diced onions, sliced cucumber, chopped tomato, artichoke hearts, or other vegetables. Add one or more protein options like black beans, chickpeas, edamame, or diced chicken. Sliced almonds, tangerine wedges, diced apples, and berries can be appealing to children. Olive oil and vinegar or a vinaigrette dressing are good choices.

Tip: Adults can enjoy salads because they can be big and filling without many calories, but oversized portions can overwhelm kids. Try serving smaller portions of various vegetables, so children can eat and enjoy them.

2. DIY skewers

Skewers can be fun and appealing for everyone. Prepare bite-sized chunks or cubes of ingredients, or use leftovers from the past few days. Protein options include chunks of low-fat cheese, cooked shrimp, and cubes of cooked skinless chicken. Vegetables can include button mushrooms, cherry or grape tomatoes, and raw or cooked pieces of bell peppers, zucchini, and green beans. Add some cooked sweet potato or potato cubes, or serve your skewers over brown rice.

Tip: Customize skewers according to preferences. You can add more vegetables and fewer sweet potatoes to your skewer to reduce calories. Children might enjoy fruit like banana chunks, grapes, and orange wedges.

3. Tacos

Whole-grain corn or flour tortillas and whole-grain hard taco shells are all good choices. Add a protein like black beans, non-fat refried beans, shredded chicken, or cooked salmon. Top tacos with chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, salsa, and avocado slices.

Tip: Picky children might be happier with quesadillas. Just add cheese to a small whole-grain corn tortilla, fold it in half, and toast it until the cheese melts. Add spinach or tomato slices before toasting it if you want to get in some vegetables.

4. Egg casserole

Use fresh or frozen vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, or green beans. Add a small amount of a starchy vegetable like corn, cooked potato, or cooked sweet potato. You can also add chopped meatless hot dogs. Spread the mixture at the bottom of a greased casserole dish and pour beaten eggs or egg whites over it. Bake until the mixture is set.

Tip: You can arrange the vegetables however you like on the bottom of the casserole dish. That means you can put extra potatoes in one area of the pan if you think your children might want more than you do. You can also sprinkle breadcrumbs or cheese over the part of the casserole you’re planning to serve to your children.

5. Cabbage chow mein

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of sesame or olive oil in a skillet and add shredded cabbage or broccoli slaw mix, diced green onion, minced garlic, soy sauce, and chopped ginger. Served it with cooked chicken breast or salmon and whole-grain spaghetti.

Tip: Load up on cabbage chow mein and chicken or salmon while keeping portions of spaghetti small to limit calories and carbs. If your children don’t want much cabbage, just toss a bit of chow mein with their spaghetti so they get the flavors and a bit of vegetables.

6. Parmesan Broccoli Salad

This is a great make-ahead salad or a salad that you can put together using leftover broccoli. Toss cooked, chilled broccoli florets with olive oil, lemon juice, diced red onion, and parmesan cheese. It’s a meal in itself, or you can serve your salad with cooked chicken or tuna for a high-protein, low-carb meal.

Tip: If your children aren’t fans of vegetables or lemon-based dressings, try giving them a small amount of broccoli mixed with parmesan cheese and cooked whole-grain pasta. They may also enjoy it heated with marinara sauce.

7. Baked fish sticks

Slice cod or another white fish into strips. Dip them into a beaten egg, and then coat them in a mixture of whole-wheat flour or oats, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and onion powder. Place them on a greased baking tray and bake them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with baked green beans or carrots and sweet potato sticks.

Tip: You can use chicken tenderloins instead of fish; just bake them a little longer until the insides of the chicken strips are no longer pink. You can also coat the green beans or any other vegetables, like eggplant slices, and bake them as a side dish.

8. Hot dogs or hamburgers

Serve meatless hot dogs, veggie burgers, lean ground turkey patties, or seitan instead of beef or pork hot dogs or burger patties. Use whole-grain buns and healthy toppings like cooked mushrooms, onions, tomato, lettuce, low-fat cheese slices, and chili-ready canned beans. Add a side salad or coleslaw made with light vinaigrette dressing.

Tip: Store-brand whole-wheat hot dog and hamburger buns are readily available in most major stores. If you’re limiting carbs, try serving your burger on a lettuce leaf.

9. Pizza

Homemade pizza lets you be creative and healthy. Simple crust options include whole-wheat English muffin halves, portobello mushrooms, and sliced whole-wheat bread. Children may enjoy whole-grain bagel halves for their crust. Add pizza or tomato sauce, low-fat or non-fat mozzarella cheese, and chopped vegetables for toppings. Serve the pizza with minestrone soup or a side salad.

Tip: For a more gourmet, adult-oriented pizza, try combinations like olive oil with pear slices and goat cheese or olive oil with feta cheese, zucchini, tomato slices, and oregano.

10. Pancakes or waffles

Breakfast for dinner feels like a treat because it’s a break from everyday routine, and it can be healthy, too. Serve frozen whole-grain waffles or make pancakes from scratch with ingredients such as whole-grain flour, oats, eggs or egg whites, and yogurt, cottage cheese, or pureed banana. Add vanilla and cinnamon to taste. Adding diced apples with cinnamon or banana slices while cooking pancakes can make them sweeter too.

Serve the pancakes with a source of protein like scrambled or hard-boiled eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, or peanut butter. Offer fresh fruit and sliced tomatoes to round out the meal.

Tip: Serve scrambled egg whites made with spinach, onions, tomatoes, or other vegetables if you’re looking for a boost of protein and a more filling and nutritious meal.

How Lark Can Help

Weight loss and management are easier when you have the foods you need, so it’s important to know how to select the best options. Lark offers additional tools and support. Your Lark coach is available 24/7 for nutrition and physical activity coaching and tracking. Lark can help you make healthy choices and establish habits that fit into your lifestyle so you can lose weight and keep it off with or without GLP-1 medications.

Click here to see if you may be eligible to join Lark today!

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