Nutrition Tips for Active Families

The family meal can get lost in the shuffle of school, sports and extracurricular activities.

It might not always be possible to enjoy dinner as a family, but it's still necessary to make sure your kids get the nutritious foods they need. Here are some tips to keep your kids healthy even when they're on the go.

Plan Ahead

When your schedule fills up fast, you don't have time for last-minute errands. But sometimes it happens and you have to shuffle your plans. Planning meals and snacks in advance can help you be prepared for those busy, jam-packed days.

When your kids are involved in a lot of activities they may have to eat a lot of meals and snacks on the go. If this is the case, it's important to keep nutritious items on hand so they can eat them in the car or bring them to a practice or game.

"Healthy family snacking requires planning," says Kathy James, DNSc, FNP, FAAN, associate professor of nursing at the University of San Diego," and that's pretty much up to mom or dad to do this."

James recommends portable snacks such as cheese sticks, sliced apples, Cuties, celery with peanut butter, edamame, yogurt and fruit. Other healthy options include almonds and raisins or other dried fruit. If you have time to prepare food in advance, sliced, baked sweet potatoes can also make a delicious snack.

Stock Up in Advance

If you have time to make a meal at home, you can save yourself a lot of time by keeping your pantry filled with certain ingredients and items.

Make sure your refrigerator and cupboard are stocked with staples like brown rice, eggs, whole-grain pasta, healthy sauces and dressing, and fruit and vegetables.

Here are some recommendations for fast, low-maintenance home meals.

  • Stir-friend vegetables with tofu, chicken or shrimp and brown rice with a green salad.
  • Pasta with vegetables and tomato sauce.
  • Vegetable soup (you can make this in advance and freeze for later), green salad with light dressing and fruit.
  • Baked or grilled chicken or fish, baked potato and steamed veggies or a salad.
  • Scrambled eggs (or egg beaters) with whole-grain toast and fruit.
  • Half of an acorn squash filled with nonfat or low-fat cottage cheese topped with brown sugar.
  • Green salad with salmon, chicken, lean beef or pork, bell peppers, olives, feta cheese, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

More: Nutrition Tips for Young Athletes

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