Healthy family meal ideas
This post was created in collaboration with AvaCare Multivitamins
Mealtimes are very important to our family and everyone loves their food. But coming up with healthy meal ideas as a family can be so hard, especially when we eat all our meals at home and I make everything!
So today I’m going to share with you what my family eats in a day, some ideas for healthy family meals, and hacks to save you time and money (and some meals and snacks while the kids are around). Save your sanity if you feel like you’re just preparing for school holidays!)
If you’re not into cooking, we’ve also got some great meal ideas for making healthy homemade meals. I get it, shock horror. It really feels like a taboo to say you don’t like cooking. Neither Sam nor I like to cook, but we both love food and I love family mealtime, so see how I cope with that!
I’m always hungry in the morning and of course the kids are too, so I have two breakfasts, especially at weekends and now during lockdown!
If I don’t have two breakfasts, I end up snacking and grazing all morning, which I try to avoid since I usually grab and prepare the snacks. Our snack choices are often unhealthy as well, and snacks always seem more expensive than the actual meal, so you could make breakfast twice instead.
Breakfast #1 – Porridge and smoothies
Our first breakfast is usually porridge. Because it’s quick, easy, healthy, filling, and something everyone can eat without much effort!
It took me a long time to learn how to make porridge. Either it was thick enough to eat with a knife and fork, or it was runny like porridge. I’ve often used instant sachets as a safe way to make porridge, but these are expensive, take forever to make for 5 people, and have a lot of wasted packaging. However, I am now very proud that I have overcome that and can make perfect porridge!
How to make perfect porridge
I use Quaker Oats rolled oats and make them on the stovetop rather than in the microwave.
- 1 x cup of oats
- 1 x water cup
- 2×cups of milk
Simmer gently until thickened, bubbly, and has a creamy texture.
I find that 1 cup is just right for me and my kids if I use the proper measuring cup.
I usually serve it with honey and frozen berries.
It sounds so simple, but I’m not the only one who struggles to make porridge!
At my house, I also drink a smoothie with my porridge, but if I’m in a hurry, I sometimes skip the porridge and just drink an extra-large smoothie.
I’m a big fan of healthy green smoothies. The first time I made a green smoothie, I thought it was the ugliest cup I’d ever tasted, so I didn’t think I’d ever say anything about it. But I have perfected the recipe and eat it every morning.
Here’s my recipe for a sweet green smoothie:
- 1 x Banana
- Frozen mango handful x1
- 1 handful of dried prunes or dates with seeds
- 1 large handful of spinach
- 1/2 cup oat porridge (if you haven’t had a cup of porridge)
- 2-3 cups of milk of your choice (if all ingredients are frozen, you will need more liquid)
- 1 serving multivitamin
This is my go-to breakfast smoothie. I always have frozen bananas, mangoes, and spinach in my freezer, but I highly recommend making smoothies using frozen fruit as it makes a cold and delicious smoothie. A handful of oatmeal will keep you full for longer, and adding dried prunes or dates will add a nice sweetness. However, keep in mind that using dried fruit can darken the color of your smoothie. It will turn a slightly cloudy green color. Yes, I admit this may look a little messy, but if you can care about the color, you’ll love it.
Mom Hack Tip: If you have a young child who regularly eats half a banana and leaves the other half unattended, it turns brown and won’t finish, you can put it in the freezer and use it in smoothies.
Mom Hack Tip #2: Check out these organic smoothie kits for the easiest way to always have healthy smoothies on hand. That’s a really great idea! Blendtopia is an organic smoothie subscription service that delivers ready-to-blend frozen smoothie kits!
I recently started adding a multivitamin to my smoothies to make sure I get everything I need. We have some really delicious AvaCare vitamins, and adding them to a smoothie is an easy way to make sure the kids get them all. The main supplement I want us all to take is vitamin D, especially during this winter of lockdown. There’s almost not enough sunlight! Our health care provider always checks that I’m giving our kids vitamin D, so being able to reassure her about doing so has always made her a better mother. It makes me feel like!
For smoothies, I use Avacare Baby Multivitamin Drops for Alba, Children’s Multivitamins and Minerals + Omega 3 for the boys, and Omega 3 Adult Super Plant Strength for Sam and I.
If you don’t have a smoothie that day, we also have AvaCare supplement sprays that you can simply spray directly into your mouth. This is still something new for the kids, so they’re happy to do it. You can find the vitamin D3 and K2 spray for adults here and the children’s version here.
This post was created in collaboration with AvaCare, a brand I choose to work with because of the integrity and quality of their products. AvaCare was founded by her father of three, who combined his expertise as a pharmacist and nutritionist and vowed to only create products he would feed his own family. Their products only contain the vitamins and minerals you actually need and have simple, clean labels so it’s super easy to know what you’re getting. Adulterated ingredients are not allowed and there is a list of prohibited ingredients such as polysorbate 80 and aspartame.
Breakfast #2 – 10.30am brunch
Brunch is my favorite meal of the day, and I strongly believe that brunch isn’t just for lazy Sundays or special occasions. Bacon and eggs, fresh bread and pastries are available on weekends. Mid-week is usually fresh bread and eggs.
I use my bread maker to make fresh bread almost every morning. I love baking! It takes 5 minutes to add all the ingredients. I often do it at night and schedule it to start in the morning so I have delicious, freshly baked bread around 10am!
Mum hacks for snackers
Is anyone tired of hearing the words “Mom, I’m hungry!!’
That’s all my kids say and it pisses me off!
So now I have a “snack drawer” in my fridge that contains fruit and chopped veggie sticks. Sometimes I add things like boiled eggs, hummus, or yogurt.
When the children complain that they are hungry, ask them to help themselves to whatever is in the snack drawer. If you don’t want to feed them unhealthy treats, make sure everything is out of reach and only feed them what they want to eat. It makes my life easier, gives them some independence, and makes them understand that I’m not their waitress!
Even though I don’t go anywhere during my lunch break, I make lunch boxes for me and the kids. I got into the habit of doing it every morning to take the boys to school. And it’s so convenient to have lunch ready and waiting in the fridge that I didn’t stop during lockdown.
It’s also super convenient to pack a lunch so I can usually sneak out and work for an hour. Alba takes a nap and the boys often watch movies during this time so I can go to the office undisturbed.
Lunch boxes don’t require a lot of imagination and consist mostly of whatever is lying around in the fridge, such as a small ham sandwich, lots of chopped fruit and vegetables, crackers and chips.
I go through a phase where I prepare myself a week’s worth of delicious lunches. I love making Buddha Bowls and use many of Rachel Ama’s vegan recipes to make gorgeous and colorful Buddha Bowls. I often make giant pasta dishes filled with vegetables. That will last you a week. Sometimes I make a lot of soup (I recently bought a soup maker and I love it!)
We’ve been baking a lot during lockdown! Our new favorite is chocolate chip cookies, and I usually put half of the mixture in the fridge instead of baking them all at once. There’s nothing quite like a cookie or cake fresh from the oven, but there’s nothing worse than a slightly stale cookie. So freezing or refrigerating dough is a great way to have fresh biscuits and cakes without the hassle of making more dough.
Also, when I have a lot of cakes and biscuits at home, I tend to eat them all. And the kids ask for it all the time, which drives me crazy. Therefore, it is easier to bake in small portions and say: “No, there is nothing!” Then they will stop harassing me!
Mom hack tip: I keep a small cake pan and a small muffin tray for when I bake something for the kids. We don’t mind feeding sweet treats in moderation, but it’s easy to feed young children the same amount as adults and forget that they should be feeding them much smaller portions. It helps because I can’t help but eat cake too!
Batch Ready is an absolute game changer when it comes to kids dinners!
There was a time when we tried to eat as a family, but that meant eating at 5pm, which was too early for Sam and I. It’s also good for Sam and I to eat together after the kids are in bed so we can relax without them.
But cooking two sets of dinners is just a pain, especially if you don’t like cooking to begin with!
I now bulk cook a lot of meals for my kids so there’s always something for them in the freezer and I usually just need to prep some veggies to go with it. I usually cook in bulk twice a week, but it’s easier to make 5 servings instead of just 1. It takes a little bit of advance planning to make sure you have all the ingredients, but now you can make sure you have everything with your weekly online shop.
The types of things I make are:
- shepherd’s pie
- fish pie
- chicken pie
- vegetable curry
- Pasta sauce with lots of vegetables
- Additionally, there are sometimes classic children’s favorites such as fish fingers, chicken nuggets, and sausages.
The kids usually eat what we bake for dessert that afternoon. But if we don’t bake anything, we often eat things like canned fruit and homemade ice cream. I love making homemade ice cream. Because it tastes so much better than ice cream made in the bath!
I don’t know much about canned fruit, but my kids love it. So I buy the juice stuff instead of the syrup and try to convince myself that there’s something good in there.
Dinner for Sam and I
Our dinners vary so much! We serve some of the same batch-cooked meals as our kids, but often with a little extra spice or flavor. Some of our current favorites are:
- Sunday Roast (almost the only dish Sam can make!)
- This slow cooker chicken tikka
- This slow cooker bolognese
- This sweet potato curry
- Easy chicken pie
- halloumi burger
- Spicy bean burger and sweet potato fries
- homemade pizza
- This sausage casserole (but often without bacon and vegetarian sausage instead of pork)
- This slow cooker garlic chicken
All of these recipes (except the halloumi burger) are so easy to double, make 1-2 and store in the freezer. You can also make pizza dough and pizza sauce in bulk and freeze them.
If you make a meal for three people every time you cook, that means you’ll be cooking almost every night for a week, then you’ll have two weeks off. Slow cooker meals are so easy and I find it super easy to double everything and make a huge amount.
There are a lot of barbecues in the summer, and I make a lot of salads and store them in the fridge for several days, then throw a different fish, meat, or vegetable on the barbecue each night. We have a covered and heated outdoor area so you’ll often be out and about no matter the weather!
Dessert for Sam and I
Our dessert is almost always chocolate, biscuits and lots of tea!
Have more ideas for healthy family meals that are easy to make and perfect for freezing (bonus points if you can make them in the slow cooker!)
A huge thank you to AvaCare for sponsoring this post. If you would like to learn more about AvaCare multivitamins, check out AvaCare’s site and find their inventory list here.