Planning nutritious meals brings families together

| March 26, 2010 | 0 Comments

Lt. Col. Karen E. Hawkins
Defense Commissary Agency

FORT LEE, Va. — Do you find yourself struggling to decide what to have for dinner 30 minutes before it needs to be on the table?

To help make life a little easier when it comes to eating, try using a meal planner.

An all-too-familiar sound in many homes around dinnertime is the kids saying, “I’m hungry — what’s for dinner?”

Many families find themselves peering into the refrigerator, or stopping off at the closest fast-food restaurant to grab something to eat.

A planner can be as simple as a weekly calendar with a shopping list attached to it.

To help make that shopping list a little easier to fill in, keep a list of foods used almost every day beside the planner on the refrigerator.

Pick a day to fill out the weekly menu, and involve the family.

Let children help plan the menu; have each child plan a dinner along with adding necessary items to the shopping list.

This is a great time for children to share what they may be learning about nutrition in school, depending on their age, or time to talk about choosing foods that help children grow.

Using planning tools can help menu planning go smoothly, along with saving money and time.

With a little organization, using these tools to help create a menu can greatly reduce the stress level around dinnertime for everyone.

Tools include finding out what is on sale for the week at the commissary and using coupons.

Also, keeping coupons in the car helps to not forget them when in a hurry.

Checking the pantry and refrigerator to see what foods are already on hand, and making sure to include these foods in the weekly menu, helps save even more money.

Take planning a step further and decide who is going to prepare different foods for different dinners. Of course, this depends on children’s ages, skill levels and after-school activities.

Involving children in the smallest tasks to the most advanced food preparation tasks can be a learning experience that begins at a young age and advances as they grow.

With a little help, very young children can wash vegetables; set the table; and pour, measure and stir ingredients.

Older children can prepare simple foods and help guide younger children too.

Learning how to cook can be fun and educational for everyone, while providing many opportunities to share and appreciate real food, made and enjoyed together as a family.

For more information about making healthy choices, visit “Ask the Dietitian” at or visit

Category: Community

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *