Between work, school, errands and activities, finding time to eat healthy as an active family can be tough – but it doesn’t have to be! Eating a balanced diet and avoiding the drive-thru isn’t hard but it does take some planning and preparing. Though it might seem like a lot of work upfront, planning meals for a week is worth it – we promise! It’s worth it for your body, your belly and your budget.
If you’re new to meal planning and want to know where to begin, or just want some handy tricks, we have you covered. Check out our quick and easy ideas for healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options for active families below!
If you tend to be rushed during the morning, your best bet is to have multiple options accessible and to have hot (or potentially hot) items cooked in advance. Some of our favorite tricks are:
- DIY Smoothie Packs: pre-pack bags with fruit and vegetables and place in the freezer. When you’re ready to blend, put the contents of one bag into your blender with your favorite flavor of Lifeway Kefir. Blend and enjoy!
- Hard Boiled Eggs: boil eggs in large batches (they will keep a week in the fridge) and pair with a glass of kefir, fresh fruit and a slice of toast for a protein-rich meal, no stove required.
- Freezer Waffles and Pancakes: sip the overpriced boxes and make a double batch of your go-to recipe when cooking on Sunday (we like this one and this one). On busy mornings, just pop them in the toaster and you’re good to go! Top with nut butter and fresh fruit for a more hearty option.
Preparing breakfast options in advance not only saves you time (and clean up), but will allow you and your family to customize and choose what you want each morning. No more arguing or boring meals!
Lunch can be tricky, especially while at work or school. Lunch box ice packs are a great option for keeping refrigerated foods cold, meaning you don’t have to worry about spoilage.
- Mason Jar Salads: fill mason jars halfway with fresh leafy greens, then customize different jars with your favorite raw and cooked veggies, chopped fruit, lean protein and healthy fats. Before you leave for the day, top with your favorite kefir salad dressing – the greens at the bottom will stay nice and crunchy!
- Bento Boxes: compartment lunch boxes aren’t just for kids! Grabbing a couple of bento boxes and prepping them ahead of time with lean protein, fresh fruit, veggies, healthy fats and whole grains (try crackers or pre-cooked grains) will give you variety and a nutritiously sound meal.
- Pasta Salad Bowls: skip the hot stuff and stick to cold noodles (we like fusilli and penne), steamed and cooled veggies, fresh veggies and chopped nuts and seeds. Top with a spicy kefir dressing and you’re full until dinner.
When a snack attach hits, it’s all too easy to reach for a candy bar or bag of chips. Having easy snacks on hand and keeping the cookies out of reach are great ways to avoid derailing your diet. Some of our go-to ideas are:
- ProBugs Pouches and Kefir: kefir contains protein, which many studies show may help keep you sated and hunger pangs at bay. We offer different bottle size options (and flavors, some just for kids!) so you can keep our probiotic potion with you at all times.
- Finger foods: kids love an excuse to eat with their hands. Whip up a batch of your favorite kefir dip and serve it along with pre-sliced veggies for a fast snack that is fun.
- Pre-washed Fresh Fruit and Vegetables: clearly fresh fruit and vegetables make up a big part of our diet in the Lifeway Family. When you’re on the go, they’re a great option to keep you going until your next meal
- Cheese, fruit and crackers: grab your favorite organic cheese, fresh fruit (we like grapes and berries – no peeling required!) and whole grain crackers. Keep crackers in individual zip-lock bags and pre-slice blocks of cheese to save money.
Dinner is (most of the time) the last frontier of the day. You’re exhausted, you’re hungry and you’re out of ideas. We’ve got you covered.
- Crock-Pot Hero: there’s nothing better than throwing ingredients into a pot in the morning and coming home to a delicious dinner after a hard day. Even better, crock-pots/slow cookers can cook a LOT, which means you will have plenty of leftovers for lunches and dinners throughout the week. Almost anything can be made in a crock-pot, but we especially love stews, chilies and soups, served with a fresh pour of our Whole Milk Plain Kefir
- Taco Bar: our Fish Tacos are definitely a family favorite, but what we love most about taco bars is that much of the work can be done in advance. Strain your kefir, chop your veggies, shred your cheese and boil your beans on your meal prep day, then store in airtight containers until ready to serve. Family members choose what they want, and once again, there are leftovers for later!
- Breakfast for Dinner: combining an all-natural/preservative free baking mix with a few of your favorite ingredients is a great way to save time when you’re craving something comforting. We love using Simple Mills baking products for that reason. When paired with our kefir, we know we’re feeding our families something wholesome, healthy and scary food-free. Try this summer vegetable bake, using whatever veggies and greens you have on hand.
You worked hard all day, why not treat yourself to, well, a treat! Our Lifeway Frozen Kefir and Frozen Kefir Bars are the perfect choices to end a day of healthy, happy eating. At just 90 calories per serving/60 calories per bar, and with 10 live and active probiotic cultures, what more could you ask for? Ok, ok, chocolate, but that’s for a different post.