Family Food Fights: Healthy vs. Convenient

It’s 5:30 p.m. and as I drive home from work, I’m thinking about what I can throw together for dinner. I want it to be healthy for my almost one-year-old and 3–year-old, but it also needs to be quick and easy. My mind starts to wonder… “What did they already eat for lunch? Have I managed to squeeze in all the food groups today? What will my increasingly picky 3-year-old actually be willing to eat? I’m so not up for a food battle tonight.”

These days my older daughter requests one of four things for every meal: grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets or hot dogs. How on earth did we get to this point? I started her with only healthy foods. I banned all sodium and sugar-packed items from our cupboards. As a new mom, I began my journey by serving fresh, homemade dishes. And yet, here we are three years later, locked down in food wars. Now it seems, every meal is a negotiation: “You can have more of this, if you eat three bites of vegetables and two more bites of meat.” As a busy working mom, I’m exhausted at the thought and I need help.

The hardest thing by far, is coming up with meals to serve for the week. I try to balance nutrition, convenience and popularity, and it’s just not that easy. It seems as though food manufacturers understand that Mom is looking for quick solutions, but few offer  healthy options ( not full of sodium, sugar and preservatives) to meet our needs. So for brands and food manufacturers out there, listen up… because you know I’m not alone here: Help us. Help us prepare and provide our children with quality meals that we as parents can feel okay about feeding them. Help us take a different twist on chicken, but by using fresh ingredients and simple spices. Help us get those veggies into our kids – maybe with a simple smoothie recipe or other creative idea. Think about my life – as I described it in the beginning of this piece – and inspire me with your innovation.

As I look at my family and where I’m at now, it’s somewhere in the middle of healthy and convenient, and I guess that’s ok. I’m letting myself off the hook so that I can enjoy a few more minutes with my kids, instead of trying to distract them while I spend hours preparing their meals. I’m a good mom who wants the best for her kids. I just need a little guidance along the way.