Quick, Easy, Budget AND Family Friendly Meal Prep

Have you tried diet plans in the past and not been successful with sticking to it? What was the reason that you did not stay on the plan? For most of us, its family life that makes it difficult to keep up with a nutrition guide that quite often comes along when you purchase to an online fitness program.

Eat healthier without the hassle

We all know that food is the major component to getting healthy. When you throw in the mix planning, preparing and cooking a different meal for yourself on top of all the other tasks you need to get through in the day, the thought is just too overwhelming! Getting the family to jump on the healthy band-wagon with you is great in theory however the cost of preparing a family of 5 Salmon and broccolini each week puts a massive strain on the grocery bill.

So what can we do to eat better each day without eating a different meal to the rest of the family? The options are endless when you start shifting your mindset and adapting small changes into your everyday life. Let’s walk through some examples:

Same same, But Different! Here are some swaps for you to try:

Sunday Roast

It’s Sunday roast and surely you aren’t going to miss out after smelling this delicious meal cooking away for the past 2 hours… You don’t have to go without, just some small changes will see you making healthier choices:

  • Bypass the roast potatoes – I know they taste so crispy good, but just cutting out this element will save you eating a lot of carbs and calories!
  • Portion out the sweet potato and pumpkin – It’s easy to get carried away with a nice big piece of these delish roast veggies, but keep in mind – even though these are better options to have, if you over do it, you will still be working against your goals.
  • Swimming in gravy? Sauces are often full of sugar, salt and empty calories! I know it’s hard to have a roast without this accompaniment, but keeping the gravy to a small drizzle will be extremely beneficial – and a double bonus, if there is no sauce left on your plate, there is no need to reach for that bread and butter to mop it all up!

Pasta Night

If it’s homemade fresh pasta, this one is even harder to resist – but focus on those goals and don’t give in to temptation!

  • There are loads of low-calorie noodle options on the market, konjac or bean alternatives are readily available in the health food isle at most supermarkets. Depending on your tolerance of these products, you will either love it or despise it! I personally can’t do the konjac products, the smell and texture just does nothing for me, but I find the bean pasta to be a suitable substitute.
  • Zoodles!! There are plenty of cool kitchen gadgets you can get now that will help you turn vegies into spirals – most commonly zucchini, but carrot can work too! As zucchini doesn’t have a strong flavour, this would be my veggie of choice to use. You can even buy fresh packaged spiralled vegetables in supermarkets now so this is a quick alternative if you don’t want to make your own (although you pay more for the convenience).
  • Capsicum boats! Another yummy alternative is to pour some bolognese sauce into half a capsicum, a sprinkle of cheese on top and bake in the oven – this also freezes well for a quick hot lunch.
  • Go 50/50! If you really can’t bare the idea of going without your pasta, meet me halfway and try only having half the amount of pasta and topping up with some steamed veggies! Honestly, the sauce is where it is at anyway so as long as you are having a nice big spoonful of that – you can still wholeheartedly enjoy this meal without the carb coma.

Chicken Soup

There is no way my kids are going to have any part of this perfect winter meal if there isn’t noodles in the soup and hot fresh buttered bread to dip! Lucky for me, my kids love this soup and I literally just throw in whatever veggies I have in the fridge, left over roast chicken if I have it, otherwise I cut up some very thin slices of raw chicken breast and this cooks within the soup. Add in some homemade veggie stock and a few litres of water, and you’ve got a meal to serve the herd which is cheap easy and takes no time at all.

Cook your soup in the biggest pot you have – honestly, if your anything like me and hate wasting food – a huge soup is the best way to use up anything you have in your fridge! Before you know it, you have made a massive pot of soup more than all your Tupperware can handle and you will be offloading bowls to anyone that pops over. So how can we modify this one?

  • Don’t put potato in your soup – I don’t think potato adds any value to your soup… leave it out, really you wont miss it!
  • Chop up all your veggies to the size you like and cook them off a bit before adding in your chicken and stock. Let this bubble away. Before you go adding in your soup noodles, grab a smaller pot and ladle out a few servings for yourself. You will be cutting out a lot of carbs you don’t need, while still eating the same meal as the family…
  • Say no to the bread! This is really the hardest part… My husband is a lover of bread with his meals which he has cut out for the most part, but when it comes to a bowl of soup there will always be some fresh bread baked in our house. The best advice I have here is just simply will power!! Stay strong and use all your strength not to reach in for a piece. if that is simply not possible – cut yourself the smallest slice possible, restrain from lathering it in butter and enjoy without guilt. and definitely don’t go back from seconds OR eat the pieces the kids left behind.

Hearty rice based stews and casseroles

Oddly enough my kids don’t like rice, so this is an easy one to change for us:

  • Switch to brown rice – if you are using a standard white rice, change over to a wholegrain brown rice. Yes, you will have to plan a little extra cooking time for this, and the texture is a little firmer, but this is a much better option than white rice. If you are worried what the kids might think, just mix it around with the stew sauce so they can’t see the colour difference.
  • Make Cauliflower rice – this is what we all eat in our house, whether we are eating a curry or stroganoff I make our cauli-rice in my Thermomix and then steam in the microwave. There is also lots of pre-packaged options for riced veggies if that is a suitable option for you.
  • Low calorie rice substitutes – again there are konjac type rice like products you can buy, give them a try and see if it’s something that you like!
  • Steer clear of the bread once again – this is something you get used to with time… if you’re a big bread lover, it will take lots of will power to resist but before you know it, you will be reaching those health and fitness goals and it is easier to see that you don’t need these foods in your everyday meals when the benefits are outweighing the taste.

Family Meals – the same, but a little different!

I hope you have an abundance of ideas on how you can adjust and work with what you are already cooking to suit a healthier lifestyle. You can eat the same meal with your whole family without feeling left out. In the beginning it was only me adapting my meals, but over time my husband and kids jumped on board and now there isn’t as many adaptions that we make each week. I don’t believe that you should hide or disguise veggies from kids – be upfront and talk to them about it. If you want to know my tips on how I get my boys to eat masses of veggies, click here to read my post on How to get your kids to eat healthy with you.