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Making family meal planning easy

Francy Pillo-Blocka RD FDC

We all want our family to eat better, yet sometimes we’re not sure where to start. Here are some simple ideas to help get you going on a positive path.

Set a family goal or two

Set a goal or two around helping your family eat better to be healthier. Focusing your behaviour on a limited number of habits over a 3-week period will help you achieve them as they become a natural part of your routine. If you need more time to master your goals, take it. Just imagine, if you set one new goal every 3 weeks, that can add up to 17 new habits a year.

Some examples of goals:

  • Start a weekly shopping list to help you and your family eat better and stick to your budget.
  • Get weekly support and input from your family with the meal-planning and list-making. Not only will you get better buy-in, but your kids will learn about planning too.
  • Decide to cook at home more often and eat out less often.

Go deep in the corners

Not sure what’s lingering in your refrigerator and freezer? Be like a hockey player and dig deep in the corners! It’s easier to make plans around your food and eating when you know what’s in your pantry and fridge. You'll save money and waste less food.

  • Make a fresh start by discarding products where the “due date” is passed, along with old leftovers. You know that old cucumber with the fuzz on it and the hamburger you're not quite sure about? Chuck them! Food poisoning is no fun for anyone.
  • Get in the habit of labelling and freezing leftovers right after dinner so that you can use them in the future. Put older frozen items in the front and newer items in the back to limit waste. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
  • If you buy packaged food on special, be mindful of expiry dates and organize them where you can see them. Work these into your weekly meal cycle.

Make it a team sport

Make grocery shopping a team sport. There has been a lot in the airwaves about kids not knowing where their food comes from. We can save the trip to the farm for another day, but bring them to the grocery store! Have them choose a bag of apples, inspect a potato and read a food label. You can even divide and conquer to help speed up your shopping time.

Learning how to eat well is a skill that’s learned over a lifetime and starts when kids are young. You’re doing your kids a big favor getting them involved early; plus, it’s a perfect way to bond.

  • Before you leave the house, discuss your family “shopping strategy.” Review the list, decide who’s doing what, and ensure no one on your team is hungry!
  • Review food product labels and the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) and Ingredient list at your home to start a conversation about what’s in your food. Consider using the NFP as an example when reviewing math homework.
  • Allocate the responsibility of getting the reusable grocery bags to one of your kids. It’s great to be “green minded”!
  • Divide and conquer the items on your list. Remind your kids to compare package amounts and prices as an Economics 101 lesson in real life.


Francy Pillo-Blocka RD FDC is the Clinical Educator for AboutKidsHealth. She trained, then worked at SickKids as a clinical dietitian in patient care and conducted practice-based research from 1987 to 1998 in the areas of general paediatrics, clinical nutrition, adolescent medicine, cardiology, neurology and more.