Regardless of how good our intentions about feeding our families nothing but whole, healthy goodness, hectic schedules and picky eaters often have a way of derailing even the best of us. If your family has fallen prey to eating the same old foods, regardless of how healthy they may or may not be, here are a few ideas about how you might just jump that food rut once and for all:

Choose your battles.

Committing to an overall better eating plan is admirable, but overwhelming and tough to sustain. Instead, pinpoint an area of food weakness in your house that could use some improvement. Do you feed your kids too many sugary breakfasts? Know the value of eating your greens, but not get enough veggies into your kids? Do you rely on processed dinners a little too often? Maybe your crew snacks on empty calories rather than having healthier alternatives on hand. Once you identify a target area, you can start to see through the weeds and realize that improvements aren’t so tough to make. Make one change or try one new recipe per week. Here are a few simple ideas to remedy some of the trouble spots we listed above:

    • Start their day off with a tummy filling, warm, nourishing breakfast that requires very little morning time. Fill a slow cooker with steel cut oats the night before, and wake up to warm oatmeal everyone can scoop into a bowl and top with their favorite toppings.
    • Get a head start on your green veggie quotas by whipping up a green smoothie. It makes for a good breakfast accompaniment (or an entire breakfast if you add protein via soy milk, yogurt or tofu) or a refreshing mid-day snack.
    • Have a go-to dinner that can be deconstructed to fit the tastes of each family member. A burrito bowl/taco salad/taco/quesadilla does just that.  Set the ingredients on the table, and let everyone assemble their favorites. Pick from these: a pot of brown rice, chopped tomatoes, black beans, avocado, corn, cilantro, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, grilled onions and peppers, leftover chicken, and chopped romaine.

Have a plan.

Whether you shop for a week’s worth of groceries at once or make stops at the local market nearly daily, you’re guaranteed to make better choices (and save money) if you plan ahead and have a strategy. Take 20 minutes each Sunday to plan your meals for the week, and add them to your smartphone, so there’s no last minute scrambling to figure out what’s for dinner. Make sure you plan for breakfasts, lunches and snacks, too. If you’re heading out for a date night, prepare an alternative to ordering pizza and ask your babysitter to heat it up.

Try a free web app like Food On the Table, which simplifies life by helping you create weekly meal plans (with recipes) and grocery lists based on food your family likes, then hooks into your local grocery stores to find the best deals on your groceries. If you don’t need that level of meal assistance, try a printable grocery list that already has the staples filled in so you simply check off what you need to replenish each week and add other items in the designed blanks.

Be a better shopper.

This Top 10 List for a Whole Foods Approach to Shopping from Going Home to Roost compiled this list so well, we pinned it to our Favorite Tips for Parents Pinterest Board. Our favorites on the list: Shop the perimeter of the store – that’s where the good, fresh stuff is; and shop what’s in season – it simply tastes better and is better for you and the Planet. Be sure to check out all 10 tips – they really are good ones!

Do you have a few tips in your back pocket for feeding yourself and your family good food without stress? We’d love to hear from you!

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