Step-By-Step Guide to Preparing Nutritious Meals Sanely

Meal planning can be challenging when your child is a fussy eater. Balancing meals for nutrition and variety can be challenging.

When the challenge becomes a daily struggle, parents tend to provide an alternative meal for the fussy eater or provide meals that the fussy eater usually eats without fail. Parents also tend to eat later when the child is in bed because meal times become disruptive, stressful or monotonous. This is the parents’ way of eating something they prefer in peace.

Even though a child may be a fussy eater, all family members can share a meal together and be happy and satisfied.

The goal of feeding is to provide children with a variety of food every day to increase their exposure to a variety of food and enough food to be satiating.

The goal is not to ensure your child eats all the food groups or particular foods you provide.

Here are 7 strategies that you may find useful in meal planning:

  1. Divide a sheet of paper into 5 sections and label them with each of the 5 food groups, that is, Breads and Cereals, Vegetables, Fruit, Meats and Alternatives (Protein-Containing Foods) and Dairy (Calcium-Containing Foods).
  2. Write a list of every food that your child eats and categorise it into its appropriate section. If you have additional children, do this exercise for them separately.
  3. Keep the list in a safe place, as a point of reference when planning meals and buying ingredients. Add to the list when your child accepts a new food.
  4. Say you have 4 people in your family, brainstorm 4 meals that you could have in a week, that meets the preferences of each family member. Plan on cooking in bulk with at least 2 meals so you can eat left overs for the nights you have not planned and/or for lunches if you choose to.
  5. Refer to your list in step 2 to generate ideas of 1 to 2 safe foods per person that can be available at each meal or snack and so that you are not serving the same meals. Safe food means food that is usually accepted and eaten by a family member.
  6. Aim for about 3 to 4 foods from different food groups at meal times and 2 to 3 foods from different food groups at snack times as a guide to increase food variety.
  7. Check food variety over the day. Have you provided food from each of the food groups? If not, try to add in a food from the missing food group if you can. Do not stress or become preoccupied with balancing out the meal plan. Good meal plans balance out over the course of a week with flexibility and input from changing or new needs. Your child will likely not eat everything you provide, but on other days, they will usually make up for it.

Remember, to make meal times peaceful by focusing on providing tasty and nutritious foods and respecting you and your child’s role in feeding. You provide a variety of food at regular times. Your child decides whether to eat and how much he will eat.

Practical Meal Planning Example

1.

Breads and Cereals Vegetables
   
Fruit Dairy
   
Meats and Alternatives  
   

2.

Child 1

Breads and Cereals Vegetables
Bread of all types, bread roll, pasta, noodles, polenta, Weetbix, muesli Potato, carrot, zucchini, onion, sweet potato, beetroot, cucumber
Fruit Dairy
Apple, pear, strawberry, orange, grapes, mango, banana, peach, nectarine, watermelon, kiwi fruit, rockmelon, honey dew melon, mandarin, pineapple Milk, yoghurt
Meats and Alternatives
Beef, chicken, fish, pork, lamb, baked beans,

 

Child 2

Breads and Cereals Vegetables
Bread of all types, bread roll, pasta, noodles, polenta, Weetbix, muesli, potato, corn, carrot, zucchini, onion, sweet potato
Fruit Dairy
Apple, pear, strawberry, orange, grapes, mango, banana, peach, nectarine, watermelon Milk, cheese, yoghurt
Meats and Alternatives
Beef, chicken, fish, pork, lamb, baked beans,

Mum and Dad

Enjoy most foods.

3.

I have placed the list of safe foods on the side of the fridge for easy access.

4.

Mum’s favourite meals are spaghetti bolognaise, frittata, curry.

Dad favourite meals are curry, pizza, ribs.

Child 1 likes roast dinners, burgers, steak, chips and salad, sausages and chips, and mash potato, pizza.

Child 2 likes roast dinner, pizza.

2 bulk meals – Roast dinner, pizza.

2 other meals – Steak and mash potato and fish, chips and salad.

5.

Safe family foods

Roast dinner – Meat, potato, carrot, sweet potato.

Pizza with varying toppings – Base, chicken, onion.

Steak, mash potato, peas and corn – Steak and mash potato.

Fish, chips and salad – Fish and chips.

6.

Roast dinner – Meat, potato, carrot, sweet potato, yoghurt = Ingredients from 3 different food groups.

Pizza with varying toppings – Base, chicken, onion = Ingredients from 3 different food groups.

Steak, mash potato, peas and corn – Steak and mash potato = Ingredients from 3 different food groups (counting potato as a carbohydrate food not vegetable).

Fish, chips and salad – Fish and chips = Ingredients from 2 different food groups (counting potato as a carbohydrate food not vegetable).

How do you meal plan? Leave a comment below.

If you’d like to learn more about feeding your family CLICK HERE.

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