Planning Healthy Meals and Activities for Busy Families

School is back in session which means a lot more structured schedules, homework, after school activities, and PLANNING.  Time management and prioritization can be challenging, especially when trying to live a healthy lifestyle.  I’m still struggling with my family’s new scheduling routine this school year.  With three staggered bus pick up times in the morning and two different school dismissal times,  my day has become more segmented. It has been an adjustment with earlier wake up times, planning meals (sometimes on the run), keeping up with school work, traveling to baseball, dance, and other activities, fitting in my workouts and housework, all the while trying to stay connected with my community, friends, and family. Establishing new routines takes time, but I know soon, it will become habit by finding what works best and being consistent.

Pre-planning has been essential to keep my family’s routine running smoothly. We write down daily and weekly schedules and to-do lists,  lay our clothes out and pack our lunches the night before school, and coordinate chores.  This past summer, we talked a lot about healthy choices in eating:  how to combine food groups to get the best nutrition,  quantity and quality of meals, eating 5-6 times a day and drinking enough water. We shopped together for foods and came up with some of our favorite meals and snacks we could easily make at home and pack for school. Knowing what to eat helps us to make good choices, especially when we’re short on time.  Below are some consistent meals and snacks you’ll find in our home.

BREAKFAST: Combine protein and fiber for optimal breakfast
* Whole grain cereals(first ingredient must say “whole”) with less than 10 grams sugar per serving: Quaker Oats Oatmeal Squares, Honey Nut Chex,  Kix or Cheerios,  Kashi Heart to Heart, Yogi Granola Crisps, Nature’s Path Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise, Erin Baker’s homestyle granola with fruit and yogurt, turkey bacon or egg
*Hot oatmeal or oatbran cereal with added vanilla whey protein, berries or banana and milk
*Non-Fat Greek Yogurt (Fage) contains 2x protein as regular yogurt, is all natural and low in sugar. I love it with fresh blueberries and strawberries.  If too bitter, mix in a tiny amount of Reddiwhip.
* Egg whites or omelettes with veggies and whole grain english muffin or toast
* Whole grain pancakes with vanilla whey protein added with fruit and milk
*Fruit smoothies with greek yogurt and fruit topped with low fat, low sugar granola

SNACKS:*Whole grain crackers: Triscuits, Wheat Thins,  Ritz Crackerfuls, Kashi TLC, and Special K with cheese, toubole salad, hummus or greek yogurt dip
*peanut butter on apples or celery
*fresh vegetables and fruit *edamame
*homemade trail mix: whole grain cereals and pretzels, raisins and nuts
*P90X protein bars
*homemade nachos: bake whole grain tortillas with olive oil, salt and cheese, add salsa and guacamole
*nuts: almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds and popcorn
* Whole grain pretzels, Sunchips and Quaker mini fiber crisps(rice cakes)
*Shakeology -learn more at www.shakeology.com/fitwithmolly

LUNCH: *Tuna,  egg salad, or peanut butter on whole grain bread
*Pasta with steamed, grilled or roasted veggies
*Soups: V8 vegetable soups or broth based with protein, veggies and whole grain and Salads
*Grilled or roasted chicken/turkey on whole grain wrap with vegetables and ranch or caesar dressing
*Many leftover dinners are perfect for lunch the next day!


DINNERS:* Most of our dinners include some variety of lean protein: turkey, chicken or fish (grilled with olive oil and seasonings, baked, roasted or broiled, whole grain rice, pasta, vegetables and salad
*Homemade pizzas with fresh vegetables and lean protein
*Turkey meatloaf, chicken meatballs, and chicken cutlets
*Turkey, chicken or white fish tacos



Along with proper eating, keeping active is a must in our schedule.  Our kids are active with sports, dance and other activities almost every day. Leading by example, my husband and I schedule a structured workout 5 times a week.  We find an exercise or workout that motivates us and fits our goals(including time limits).  I love TurboFire including the advanced series, but needed a little more variety, so now I’m following a hybrid program of TurboFireChalene Extreme and P90X.  I’ve recruited some workout partners to keep me motivated and accountable as well. We’ll throw in some Hip Hop Abs, Brazil Butt Lift, Insanity, and RevAbs from time to time. Change is good to maintain interest and goals.

My priority is keeping my family well-fed and active to develop more energy, a stronger mind and body, gain confidence and add years to our lives. The transition from our laid back summer to full swing of school again is still a work in progress, but I know with patience, commitment and consistency we’ll get in the groove of our new routine soon. If it’s important enough, we make time for it!

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what works for you with your busy schedule. I love sharing ideas of how to better live a happy and healthy life! Check out my website for nutritional products, meal plans and fitness programs I love at www.beachbodycoach.com/fitwithmolly.

www.fitnesswithmolly.blogspot.com

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