A meal planning strategy that works: How to make one meal that satisfies everyone in the family

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Thank you to my friends at Alberta Milk for partnering with me to bring you this sponsored blog post, helping you energize your nutrition, one bite at a time.

You’re busy, you’re tired, you’re well-informed of the importance of nutritious foods, you’re trying to keep your family healthy, you’re trying to keep YOURSELF healthy. You have put forth effort to prepare a meal. And your family hates it. How are you supposed to meal plan for your family??

There is nothing more frustrating than taking the time to prepare a meal, only to have your family stick their nose up and declare that they don’t like that food. You’ve likely heard that your “job” in feeding your family is to make one family meal, not separate meals. But you just meal planned and made one family meal, and they wouldn’t eat it! You’ve got hockey or dance practice tonight and you can’t send them there without being fed without inviting meltdowns later in the evening. Now what are you going to do?

As a parent, it is important that you decide what foods and drinks are offered and that you are not making separate meals for different people. It doesn’t benefit your family and you definitely don’t have time or energy for that. What if there was a meal planning strategy where you could offer one meal that everyone would like? I’ve got you covered. Read on.

Are you feeding a family with different meal likes and dislikes? This meal-planning strategy will help calm your picky eater.

How the food is served can make a difference. Serving foods on platters or in bowls, and allowing your child to serve herself can make a big difference to whether she “accepts” it or not. When I talk to families about what meals are currently “working”, taco night is a big one. Why? Because kids prepare their own tacos! Everyone gets to customize their plate based on their food preferences from the foods offered. You are still deciding what foods are offered – but the way in which you are offering them offers more autonomy for everyone eating.

But you aren’t going to eat tacos every night (though if you haven’t tried these Maple Fusion Soft Tacos, you must!).

So here is another idea: a rice bowl bar.

There are 7 reasons why I like meal planning in rice bowl bar nights:

1) Rice bowls are a method, rather than a recipe per se. Simply take a cooked protein, a whole grain, some veggies, some cheese and a dressing, throw it into a bowl, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic rice bowl meal. There are unlimited combinations of ingredients and dressings, allowing you to create different themed bowls – Asian, Indian, Greek and more!

2) Rice bowls are a great way to use up leftovers. Whether it is a left over deli chicken, pulled pork, roasted veggies, or frozen vegetables, rice bowls are a great way to use up what you have, helping you to cut back on your wasted food.

3) Everyone still gets to choose what they like from the foods you have offered. While dealing with different food preferences is frustrating, it is still important to expose kids to different foods which helps to expand their food repertoire. The only way for this expansion to happen is to continue to offer different foods, keeping in mind that your goal is long-term food acceptance.

4) Rice bowls are very eye appealing – When I made this rice bowl buffet for my family, my husband said “Mmmm, that looks good”. I put all the colorful foods in different bowls allowing the colors to “pop”. The meal was still easy to clean up. I just threw all the bowls in the dishwasher.

5) A variety of nutritious food choices can be offered. In the middle of dinnertime chaos, sometimes nutrition takes a back seat to just getting something on the table. Rice bowl bars allows you to have both nutrition and convenience. Fiber-rich foods can be offered through whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. Calcium-rich foods can be offered through cheese, tzatziki, savoury lemon yogurt dressing or other calcium-rich dressing (or by simply serving dinner with a glass of milk). Iron-rich foods can be offered through chicken, pork, beef or legumes.

6) Rice bowls offer easy dinner adaptations for your vegetarian eater. Within a family, sometimes one member prefers vegetarian proteins. Having a rice bowl bar allows you to put out one additional bowl of the vegetarian protein (black beans, chick peas, lentils, tofu, etc) keeping meal preparation simple and straight forward.

7) Rice bowls make for easy lunch packing. With leftover rice bowl ingredients, it is “easy” to throw together tomorrow’s lunch right after supper, giving you 5 extra minutes in the morning! That is meal-planning at its finest!

So – how do you make one meal that satisfies? Meal plan a different strategy! Make this Sweet and Sour Chicken Rice Bowl.

The full recipe and method for creating this Sweet and Sour Chicken Rice Bowl Bar can be found here.



Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall MSc, RD Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian Calgary, AB.

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