With summer vacation coming to an end, we are getting back to our school routines. It seems like a great time for me to share with you my interactive meal planning chart that I have been using with my son Clark, age 9 .
I will start off by telling you that Clark is an extremely picky eater. Those of you with picky eaters, you will know the stress, aggravation and arguments that can ensue when trying to get your child to eat! It usual ends in tears… from the mother, lol.
Since we have been living a healthier lifestyle and using the 21 day fix portion control container (since 2015) , clean eating and limiting artificial ingredients , we decided several years ago to incorporate the same 21 day fix color coded system into menu planning with Clark.
Our hope was that this interactive color coded food system would help us to get Clark to eat more and make better choices.
By using the color system, I can easily see that I have covered all of his nutritional needs for the day. Our system is simple, effective and saves my sanity while encouraging Clark to make healthy, good choices. Our mornings AND evenings are less stressed and Clark is eating more of his meals because he “ordered” everything! Allowing Clark to choose from the choices at each meal is so simple, its GENIUS! Each evening after dinner we erase that day’s choices and prep for the next day. Clark packs his lunch box and makes his choices by checking off which items (about 3-4 per meal/ he also packs a snack pouch) he would like the following day.
Giving children a choice (even though we have “staged” the choices) make them feel good about themselves, as well as their choices and most of the time we see a positive change in past behaviors.
Here is our guide on our process!
Preparing Meal Choice Board/Poster:
We have tweaked out meal planning board since we first implemented this strategy! Now we use the above graphic and place it into a clear plastic folder. This hangs on the refrigerator with a dry erase marker. There are 6 food group categories which have several choices of foods that are fully stocked in the refrigerator or pantry and are Clark and Mama approved (see above graphic for an example). * Clark is allergic to nuts, but his little brother Lennon is not and we use this for both of them at this point. *
Clark chooses his foods for all meals and snacks by circling or "highlighting" what he would like to order. I then get it all prepared and he places it into his lunchbox and snack pouch the night before. We then refrigerate all items!
We are BIG meal/food planners and this has helped us (John and myelf) successfully lose a total of over 200+ pounds together!
On Sunday’s we have a routine of making sure that all of our meals, snacks and drinks are pre-planned and prepped for the week ahead. Making sure these tasks are complete really helps us to start our week on the right foot.
Our meal preparation system:
Wash and place in sealed baggies so that they are ready to go! Why waste time during the week cutting and bagging items! We noticed that everyone eats healthier when fruit and veggies are ready to eat!
Hard-boiled eggs – make sure you have a dozen eggs ready to go!
Chicken – make homemade nuggets and have ready for the lunch box (they keep well).
Place crackers in a small ziploc baggie (or eco-friendly pouch) (3-5 is a good amount)
Place almond butter, peanut butter, cream cheese in small containers (they sell disposable ones at target) for easy access and child independency. If your child is taking any spreads to school place a wooden Popsicle stick in his/her lunch box to use as a spreader! If cheese is an option, cut up into cubes or slices and place in baggie.
Make sure you have wraps, breads, yogurts, granola etc ready on hand. Purchasing breads and such on Sunday’s will help you to eliminate trips to the grocery store during the week.
Since implementing this interactive menu we have seen such tremendous growth in Clark's ability to choose foods carefully, try new foods and also finish all of his chosen foods. Many people will say that this type of plan is too much work, that all children should eat what the parents are eating or what is offered. My feeling is completely different, I do not want my child to spend his early years dwelling on food. I want him to be successful during his long days at school and have enough stamina to be the active happy boy he is. Making a few accommodations that allow him to flourish mentally and physically is what I need to do as a parent.
Monday morning is not so difficult when things are organized and prepared in advance. Setting and following a routine goes a long way and reduces so much stress in our lives and helps to keep our family on this positive healthy path.
Are you struggling with meal planning and prepping? Don't fret, I have a new Nutrition Makeover group starting on September 16th. This exclusive membership is on Facebook. I have an wonderful private group with others that are in the same boat, they all want to make a change for the better and work on their nutrition this fall. My membership is quite affordable and offers so much! For literally .66 cents a day you will get meal plan+prep guides, meal plan that includes delicious recipes and detailed grocery list), free E-books ( September's e-book is Crock-Pot meals+ recipes!), 1:1 coaching by me! I have lost a total of 175 pounds since 2015 and I'm not done yet! You will also have daily accountability posts so that you can stay the course and work on being your best self!
If you are ready to jump in, send me a message!
We are going to be doing GREAT work in this group. It's time to invest in YOU and your FAMILY!