By Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD
During this unprecedented time, many families find themselves suddenly cooking more at home. While cooking at home has plenty of benefits, meal preparation can feel like an added burden during self-isolation. Parents and caregivers are now balancing work, childcare, homeschooling, housework, and providing 3 meals plus snacks for their families each day—all while in close quarters!
Let’s get real for a minute, this is not the time to be hyper-focused on ensuring that our children eat every color of the rainbow of fruits and vegetables each day. Grocery store shelves may be bare, making that challenge near impossible. Instead, shift your focus to making fun “quarantine cuisine” while incorporating a few nutritious options. Whether you use canned, frozen, or fresh fruits and vegetables, aim to incorporate at least one of these food groups with every meal. Learn more about the benefits of canned and frozen fruits and vegetables in this blog.
Do you feel like you’re in the kitchen all day cooking and cleaning? Get your whole family in the kitchen to make meal prep easier! You can even involve your children in planning out your meals. MyPlate is a helpful tool for planning your meals. Choose low-fat milk and cheese; eat a variety of grains, especially whole grain bread, pasta, and brown rice; vary your protein by eating plant protein along with lean animal protein; and try to eat at least five fruits and vegetables each day.
Use the chart below for some helpful suggestions as you adapt the ways you cook and eat at home:
|Instead of:||Try this:||Link:|
|Offering fresh fruit at every snack||Enjoy a smoothie with frozen fruit||Recipe here|
|Giving your children candy as a reward||Treat your family’s sweet tooth to our Mini Fruit Tartlets||Recipe here|
|Drinking plain water||Get creative with a daily infused water||Recipe here|
|Offering chips at snack time||Make your own Trail Mix with your family||Recipe here|
|Cereal for breakfast||Try one of our delicious, wholesome breakfast options||Recipe here|
|Sandwiches for lunch||Mix it up with Sandwich Sushi||Recipe here|
|Running out of tasty recipes to make with your pantry staples?||Check out these CHEF-Approved recipes using rice, beans, and other staples!||Three Bean Chili |
Arroz con Pollo
|Can’t exercise outdoors?||Discover fun activities your whole family can do on YouTube||You Are What You Eat Dance|
Greece Cultural Dance
|Need new recipe ideas?||Search our recipes for healthy inspiration! Recipes can be narrowed down by special diet and type of recipe.||Recipes here|
Have a nutrition or culinary question for CHEF? Use our Ask a Dietitian tool here.