Fast Food for a Healthy Family


Heidi Cole-Chapman’s grandson, Rowen Parker, enjoys picking his own veggies in an obliging Mississippi garden. Photo by Heidi Cole-Chapman

Feeding a family can be enjoyable, as well as healthy and fast

By Heidi Cole-Chapman

As I begin each day in the quiet moments just before the sun has cleared the top of the trees, I think about how blessed I am to live in the South and how blessed I am to have a family to take care of.

As the rooster crows, animals begin stirring, and my sleepy-eyed children stretch in their beds to greet the day, my thoughts move to the adventures and opportunities that lay ahead. I ask myself how I can make a difference and how I can I prepare my family for this gift of a new day God has given us.

The one sure thing I know I can do is make certain they are well nourished. And with just a little preparation, planning, and ingenuity, I can make sure my family is well nourished with delicious food that they will enjoy eating.

Growing up, we were all told to eat our breakfast because “It’ll make you grow big and strong.” Well, it’s true! You have to feed your body with wholesome foods for it to function properly. I mean, you wouldn’t put dyes and sugars in your car’s gas tank and expect it to run properly, would you?

The same goes for our bodies. To function properly, to think clearly, to process information, to move, and to respond, we must feed our bodies with proper nutrients. This means drinking enough water to stay hydrated; eating enough carbohydrates to provide energy; eating enough lean protein to feed muscles; and eating enough fruits and veggies to replace all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber lost daily.

Around our house we keep several fairly simple and delicious breakfast options handy, or even make them ahead of time and freeze them to expedite the morning routine.

One popular and healthy choice is organic/free-range turkey bacon (baked in the oven) served alongside buckwheat or whole grain pancakes with fresh fruit and raw honey. Another quick and easy breakfast menu is oven-roasted potatoes with a poached organic/free-range egg. Or, if we are really crunched for time, we might make a fresh fruit smoothie with yogurt, almond, or coconut milk to take with us as we are running out the door.

Lunches can be a bit more difficult, especially as the kids get older. My kids want to eat what their friends are eating at school, so I have found that giving them options at lunch allows them to choose what they want on any given day. I keep portioned servings of prepared items in my fridge so I can give my kiddos the flexibility to make their own “drive-through combo meal.”

On any given day, they can find proper servings of nuts, seeds, boiled eggs, organic cheese sticks, lunch meats, and fresh fruits and veggies. If you invest in a few containers on the front end (mason jars work great), lunches can be as easy as 1, 2, 3!

1 – Snack (carbohydrate)

2 – Protein (cheese, meat, or bean)

3 – Fruits and Veggies

Have the kids open their lunch bag in the morning, and toss in what they want to eat that day. Add a water, and voilà…lunch is served!

At our house, dinner preparation begins in the spring when we plant our small garden. If you don’t have space in the yard for a garden bed, try a container garden, which fits almost anywhere. I’ve found that, if you plant a garden with your kids—let them help care for it and harvest it…surprise! They will eat from it, too.

To cook our weekday dinners, I use my crock pot almost daily. In the morning, I place the meat of choice over diced veggies, pour in some broth, place the lid on it and let it cook all day. Dinner is ready when we get home. No thinking; just done.

But meals that don’t require a crock pot don’t have to take a long time to cook either. Simply set aside a little extra time on the weekends to do the prep work for wholesome, nutritious meals to cook during the week using the foil-filling-freezer method.

Foil-Filling-Freezer Meals at 350° in 30 minutes

Here are some easy dinner options that the whole family can help in preparing. Set out some of the ingredients below and let each family member stuff their foil pouch (make sure the ingredients are balanced with protein, veggie, and carb). Season, seal, and freeze.

  • Fish, lemon, seasonings
  • Portobello mushroom, peppers, spinach and bread crumbs
  • Baked potato with fresh veggies
  • Butternut squash
  • Shrimp with seasonings
  • Turkey or hamburger patty with onions
  • Chicken breast with squash and zucchini

As you walk out the door on a weekday morning, put the pouches for dinner that night in the fridge to thaw. When you get home, place the thawed pouches on a baking sheet and cook at 350º for 30 minutes, which is just enough time to prepare a salad; help the kids with their homework; set the table; or go for a walk!

Keeping a busy family well nourished does require some planning, but it also can be quick, easy, and delicious. All it takes is making a plan and then working it!

About Sunnyhuckle

Sunnyhuckle is an online magazine dedicated to enriching the heart, mind, soul, and body through the sharing of stories, insights, thoughts, ideas, and perspectives.

There is one comment

  1. Bess

    Can’t wait to try the chicken with squash and zucchini! So simple. I think Ill make a ton – use up the veggies in my garden- and fill my freezer 🙂

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