How to enjoy healthy meals without the stress this festive season

A collaboration between Hello Fresh and Little Peeps Eats.

Every day I seem to have something new added to the Christmas social calendar, which has started to impact my ability to provide my family with healthy meals.  This week, I have work Christmas functions, kids sporting activities, daycare graduation and Christmas party, and an extended family festive celebration on the weekend.  During the busy festive season,  it can be difficult to find time to meal plan and often we end up making unhealthy choices for our family as we crave some convenience among the chaos.

How to enjoy healthy meals without the stress this festive season

To avoid my family eating cheese on toast or takeaway every night, I’ve had to think outside the box of what I can do to ensure that we are eating healthy meals, amongst all of the chaos of the festive season.

Here are some top tips of what has been working for my family.

1. Stock up your freezer stash

If you can manage to dedicate a half day this weekend to do some batch cooking and stock up on some meals that freeze well, it can be a life saver on those nights you are home late to be able to reheat a meal you’ve grabbed from the freezer that morning.

Two of my favourite meals to cook in bulk are Spaghetti Bolognaise and Quinoa Con Carne.  

Hot Tip!  Bolognaise served on shredded lettuce put a lighter and healthier spin on this dish which can be a great option in summer.

2. Outsource planning and shopping for your healthy meals

On Tuesday I had a delivery from Hello Fresh.  I hadn’t tried them before so didn’t really know what to expect to be honest, but with my freezer stash empty and no time to shop I knew I needed another option.

My ‘Family Box’ contained all of the ingredients for four healthy meals, that feed two adults and 2-3 children.  I’ve found that there is enough for hubby and I, the two kids, and enough for leftovers for my lunch the next day – winning!

The ingredients for each meal are bundled individually, with a reusable ice pack to ensure everything stays fresh before you are able to refrigerate it.

I love the fact that I can still cook a fresh healthy meal, without having to shop for the ingredients or think about what I am cooking for dinner that night.  It is also easy to adapt the recipes to suit your family – perfect for fussy eaters.

Our four meals were:

  • Popcorn Style Pork with  Herby Sweet Potato Wedges and Veggies
  • Mexican Bean & Brown Rice Bowl
  • Warm Pesto Chicken & Bow Tie Pasta Bowl
  • Garlicky Hoisin Beef & Veggie Stir Fry

The verdict…

The meals were really tasty, and whilst they were new meals the kids hadn’t eaten before, there wasn’t a single meal that they rejected.  A family favourite was the Popcorn pork, with the appearance of chicken nuggets they were an instant hit with the kids!  I have no hesitation in recommending this to any family that like me, is time poor and looking to try to maintain some healthy eating this festive season.

The Flavour Generator

A really cool feature I discovered on the Hello Fresh website is the Flavour Generator.  You simply answer two quick questions and it generates suggested meals that you are likely to enjoy, and the recipes to make them.

This is a fabulous way to ‘try before you buy’ in making their meals yourself by purchasing the ingredients and making the recipes.  This will give you a flavour of whether you will enjoy the recipes and ingredients that are delivered to your door step.  I’m definitely going to be trying the Mexican Bean Salad, it sounds amazing!

3.  Keep meals simple, and stock up on healthy essentials 

Another option is to plan a week of basic dinners, made from fresh ingredients that are quick to prepare.

Some fresh and simple ideas:

  • A salad with a tin of tuna tossed through
  • Grilled chicken with a simple side salad and boiled eggs
  • Vegetable frittata and salad
  • Simple stir fry
  • Crumbed fish, salad and sweet potato chips

Hot tip!  Boiled eggs last in the fridge for one week!  Great to have ready in advance for a healthy protein boost in your salads, and most kids love them!

And remember, if you over indulge amongst all the festivities, make some time for exercise (kids included!) so you can counteract some of those additional calories, and maintain your energy levels over what can be an exhausting time of year.

I hope that you find these ideas helpful in ensuring  your family can enjoy healthy meals over the festive season.

Rachel Cassidy Little Peeps EatsRachel Cassidy is the author of this article and the founder of Little Peeps Eats.  She is a passionate food blogger and brand ambassador, but her most important job is being a mum!  Little Peeps Eats helps families take the stress out of mealtimes by providing healthy, kid approved recipes, as well as fussy eating tips and tricks. Their website hosts a directory of nutritionists, resources and mealtime products to ensure that you have everything you need at your fingertips when it comes to feeding your family.

Fussy Eating – How to get your child to eat healthy meals

fussy eater

Thanks to Jodie Read, Certified Paediatric Dietitian (and co-founder of Rainebeau Co), for contributing this fantastic guest blog on Fussy Eating to Little Peeps Eats.  

How do we get our children to eat healthy meals?

Fussy eating is a normal stage for your child to go through, and this happens usually around the toddler years. Some children will insist on only eating the same thing over and over and any new foods they refuse to try.

Making healthy varied meals for your child only to have them refused and thrown on the floor can be frustrating, upsetting and most likely messy! The good news is that this stage should only be temporary, and there are a few strategies you can try to encourage new foods and expand their choices.

A bit of mess, and food exploration is part of the process of a child discovering and learning about new foods before they may enjoy them. However to encourage them to try new foods, and be a little hungry when meal times come around it can help to be aware of things that may impact on their appetite first.

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Top 10 tips to planning healthy fresh meals for your family on a savvy mums budget

Ever since having children I’ve really learnt the benefits to dedicating some time each week to planning healthy family meals for the week ahead.  

Have you ever found yourself feeling so stressed each afternoon, thinking ‘what are we having for dinner?’.

I sure have, and found myself reaching for quick and easy options, including lots of packaged and pre-prepared foods.  This was not only expensive, but full of additives that I didn’t feel comfortable my kids having so often.

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What to pack in a healthy lunch box

Gone are the days of making a vegemite sandwich for school and throwing in a muesli bar and a packet of chips. We are becoming a lot more health conscious as are the schools and for good reason! A lot of schools also have a minimal waste policy so it’s a good idea to send a healthy lunch box without any extra packaging. Another benefit of this is that you’re not actually sending any pre-packed food and know exactly what is going into your kids little bodies.

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Grazing platters and how they encourage healthy eating

A grazing platter or a plate, or lunch box that allows for a range of different foods is an excellent way of introducing new and exciting foods to kids and encourage healthy eating.

What is a grazing platter?

It is just a plate or container of whole foods with a range of different things for your kids to try.

The secret to keeping the grazing platter a success is to add a couple of new things every time. You don’t want to overwhelm the kids so adding some favourites on there will keep them interested.   The ideal is to include something they are familiar with and love, something they are familiar with and ok with eating, and something they have not yet tried or typically do not like to eat.  If they eat the new item – add a little more next time until they are familiar and comfortable eating it.

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