What to do When the Family Won’t Eat Healthy
Saving money and eating healthy is hard. Sometimes, our families make it harder by having inconvenient things like opinions and taste preferences 😜. Here are 5 ways you can make peace at your kitchen table without giving up and ordering pizza.
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There’s a huge problem when you’re trying to eat healthy and cook for a family.
It mostly comes in the form of kids and maybe a spouse who have things like taste buds and other inconvenient opinions about food. I know pizza and brownies are the greatest foods ever, but we can’t eat them every day. It’s a harsh truth for first world children, but it’s true.
My husband is the most flexible and supportive human being. But he’s also normal and doesn’t cook – he’s just the type that lived on cheese and crackers until I moved in.
But I think he speaks for all children and spouses being dragged through the real food world when he says, “I’m just tired of eating being so hard.”
I know he’s not the only one because I hear this scenario from nearly everyone I talk to about real food. The reality is that opposites attract, and sometimes that applies to eating habits.
Being the frugal foodie isn’t easy. And neither is being the spouse or child eating kale fritters and sweet potato burgers.
Real foodies are a very passionate bunch. We make salad dressing and sprout our grains and share kombucha scobies with people we meet on crunchy living Facebook groups.
We care about our families, and we can only read so much about the horrors of pesticides before everything in the store looks like it has a skull and crossbones on it.
But let’s have some grace. Grace for ourselves – we can’t do it all – and grace for our families – those toddlers can’t even read, let alone fully grasp the dangers of red food dye.
Here are 5 ways we can make peace at the kitchen table:
1. Compromise Foods
My family doesn’t always eat healthy. Depending on the season, we buy certain compromise foods.
This will look different for everyone, and there’s no right or wrong answer. Do what works for you, my friend.
2. Menu Plan Together
I’d like to make vegetable curry and fresh salad greens every night. And macaroni and cheese because I’m not perfect.
But that sounds like a good way to burn my people out. So they get involved. Nearly every week, we sit down and make the menu plan together. Each person chooses a meal for one night that week. We leave 1-2 nights for leftovers.
Lest you think I’m telling you to be a short order cook, there’s more. Each kid has to help cook the meal they chose. This used to be more stressful than helpful, but since they took a simple kids’ cooking course, they ACTUALLY help. The kids toss salad, slice veggies, mix dressing – even cook homemade corn tortillas and pizza dough.
The family chose meals this week! Chris chose chicken and rice. Ray chose lentils and rice (my self-proclaimed herbivore). Chase chose pizza and cucumbers. Jet chose pizza and carrots, then amended it to pizza pockets. When I asked what we should have for breakfasts, Chase said: pizza. We have a theme. I have some recipe testing to do this week, so I didn’t chose a dinner. We’ll eat leftovers from those or possible try out the grill we just inherited from neighbors ❤. Frugal grilling – is that a thing? •••• What are you making this week? Enjoying the longer days of summer or surviving swim team and travel schedules? #summer #menuplanning #pizza
4. Bake Dessert
This helps us save money and eat healthy in several ways:
- Homemade baked goods are cheaper
- The ingredient list is generally cleaner (fewer preservatives, etc.)
- Baking is a lot of work, so more often than not, we pass on making them
- Which means we eat less dessert!
5. Learn Together
In our family, this healthy eating thing is not something that only mom does. Sure, I’m the most passionate, but my goal is to help my kids hear the real food message from multiple sources. I get it, I was a kid once – for some reason hearing the message from someone else makes it legitimate. Whatever.
So we watch documentaries. We read books (affiliate links) and watch shows about the way people eat in other countries. We try those recipes. We shop at the farmers market, and my kids learn how to cook healthy and why from other people.
My mom wanted me to eat healthy, and I took some of it to heart as a child. But the reality is that each human is their own person. Eventually, they get to a point where we can’t force them to make choices that we believe are right. Our families will be healthier overall if they learn to make their own their choices – good or bad.
(Speaking of which – THERE’S HOPE! Caught the 3-year-old munching on this during Saturday morning cartoons.)
Meanwhile, you’re in this season of life together. Have some hard conversations, choose the goals you won’t compromise. Choose what you will compromise. Set a good example. And chill out a little. Make good food with your family. Bake some cookies.
What You Can Do Now:
If you’re having trouble getting your family to eat healthy, try this:
- Choose one of the 5 ways to help bring peace to your kitchen table and implement it!
- Relax. If it’s true that “more is caught than taught,” your good example will speak louder than anything else.
- Get inspired! Get a free menu plan every month and learn how people like you are helping their families eat real food. Get in here.