10/03/2013 07:52 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Healthy Meal Planning For The Whole Family


Meal planning, at first glance, may not be the most exciting prospect for your children. But you may be surprised by how interested your kids are when you ask them to help decide on healthy meals for the family -- especially if you give them an opportunity to add some of their favourite foods to the menu.

When kids are involved in the planning process, they’re much more likely to appreciate home-cooked meals, both at home and at school. It’s never too soon (or late) to start making healthy choices, and you can use these tips to teach them valuable meal planning skills that will stick with them for life.

Photo gallery Healthy Meal Planning For The Whole Family See Gallery

Make meal times and snack times into family time

With a hectic schedule, it can be tricky eating at the same time every day. But kids like to know what to expect; a consistent schedule is helpful and comforting for them. Getting them involved in scheduling is a good way to introduce new foods in a comforting environment.

Live off the land

If you have a vegetable garden or potted herbs, enlist your kids’ help in taking care of it. You can even ask them to suggest ways to incorporate what you’re growing into the meal plan to help them understand where the food that’s on the table comes from.

Use arts and crafts time to make a meal chart

Enlist their help early on in the process, and ask your kids to draw a colourful meal-planning chart that you can fill in as a family and post on the fridge as a helpful guide. Being part of meal planning from square one will give your kids a sense of empowerment and encourage them to stay involved.

Create a roster of everybody’s healthy favourites

Arm yourself with 20 or so healthy recipes, and get the family to weigh in on their own favourites. Try setting 15 family favourites to rotate in and out of the weekly dinner slots in the meal chart you made earlier. The kids will be excited knowing that their top choices will be in the rotation, and an excited child is a hungry child.

Let the kids take up meal planning duty

Once you have identified the family’s 15 favourite dinners together, have your kids come up with a weekly plan that everyone will enjoy. From there, you can start to create a shopping list together, and even bring the kids to the store with you so they feel involved in the entire process.