Breakfast is easy…if we remember to eat it. We can easily pop a whole-wheat bagel, perhaps some Ezekiel toast, in the toaster and go. We can also grab a banana or make ourselves a smoothie and have a pretty complete meal to start our day off right. For lunch, we can make a salad…if we have time. We can also choose a healthy option from a place close to work or we can heat up last night’s healthy leftovers. Remember that shake we talked about for breakfast? We might even be able to have one of those for lunch as a meal replacement if we have the right stuff on hand.
There is one meal we have not mentioned. Of course, we don’t want to forget our healthy snacks along the way. We all know to keep our metabolism going, we need to do a breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack type of plan. But the hardest meal of the day and often the one that causes me the most stress is…dinner. I don’t know how it does it, but every day this meal smacks me right in the face. It usually happens when I am driving home from picking the kids up from school. My wife calls me and asks that scary question “got any ideas for dinner?” The question has also caught me in the car when the kids say “Hey Dad, What’s for dinner tonight?” Even worse…you get home after a long day of work and you realize you have no idea what you are going to make for dinner.
Once you decide what you are making for dinner, you then have to ask yourself if you have done the best job possible to provide a balanced meal for your family. Is there something missing? How do you know what a balanced meal even is? We all know that the food pyramid is ever changing and hard to keep up with, so what if there was a simple way to remind ourselves of the “food rules?” A tool for busy parents to make our meal preparation easier? Well, guess what?! I found it! Well actually, Amy’s found it! Ever since Amy from Super Healthy Kids introduced me to their nutrition plates, it has not only been easier to think about dinner, but it’s also been a way to get my kids thinking about every meal they eat. Our government outlines several nutritional guidelines as part of the USDA’s MyPlate program, and this plate follows those guidelines. Our family happens to be a plant-based family, so we prefer the plate that has beans and legumes rather than a turkey leg on it, but the great thing about the two plates is that they can work for anyone!
There are two plates that we really like a lot. The first one is the Healthy Habits Round Plate, which includes four sections: protein, fruit, veg and whole grains as represented in the MyPlate program. They are divided up so that each item represents around ¼ of the plate. Our plant-based family uses the Choose MyPlate for Kids Nutrition Plate, which features around ¼ of the plate as whole grains, around ¼ of the plate as protein (like beans, nuts and seeds) and the remaining half of the plate for fruits and veggies. We love this round plate and use it almost every weeknight at our house. In addition to all the great stuff above, the plates are:
8 inches in diameter
These plates should not be used in the microwave or oven, but that is not a bad thing since a lot of microwave use is never a good way to cook your food anyway. During a busy night, these plates truly are my secret weapon. With these plates, my kids think about the way they eat and also have fun by clearing a section so they can see the cartoons. It’s a win-win for parents and kids and that is something I can get behind.
Cory Warren is a husband, father of three, and vegan athlete who helps busy families eat more plant-based foods! His blog, Lean Green DAD, helps over-scheduled, busy people (mostly parents) maintain a healthy balance of plant-based nutrition, fitness, and overall wellness so they can go the extra mile for their families.