Have you ever wondered how in the world to plan healthy meals that meet both your weight loss goals and your family’s appetite?
Using a dinner template is an amazing way to prepare the same food for the entire family, offer a variety of options, and allows you adjust what you put on your plate to meet your calorie and protein needs for the day.
Working toward your health and nutrition goals can be a challenge, especially when you have children. After all, no one wants to cook two separate meals or feel like they’re no longer included in family dinner.
It feels daunting to feed your kids their favorite foods, and not sabotage your own weight loss goals. Read on to find out about the magic of using a dinner template!
Fat Loss Basics
Before we dive into meal planning, let’s touch on the basic foundation of weight loss.
First, eating enough protein is vital to fat loss. Protein will help you stay fuller, longer, and preserve your muscle mass as you lose weight.
Second, eating healthy isn’t always enough. For fat loss to occur, you need to be eating fewer calories than you burn, also called a calorie deficit. You don’t need to eliminate any types of foods or food groups, but you do need to control the quantity of food you eat.
The good news? Abiding by these two simple rules is also a great way to feed your family a healthy and well-balanced diet. This allows you to prioritize your own needs, let go of guilt, and provide meals that make everyone happy.
Use a Dinner Template
Keeping the above goals in mind, we can now move on to a tool that helps plan healthy meals that meet both your weight loss goals and your family’s appetite: dinner templates.
The beauty dinner templates are their flexibility– you can adjust for quantity to meet everyone’s likes and needs.
You are going to build your custom template using primarily one ingredient foods. Start with a protein, add 1 – 2 servings of vegetables (one of these can be a salad), a starchy carb, and a fruit.
This template works beautifully because you are preparing the same food for the entire family, while leaving room to adjust what’s on your plate to meet your calorie and protein needs for the day.
This might look like adding more protein or vegetables and eating less of the starchy carb. Or, if you have extra calories left in your day, enjoying a treat.
Benefits of using a Dinner Template
There are so many benefits to using a dinner template– their ease of use being only one. Here are some of the other ways a dinner template can help, especially as a busy mom:
- Can be modified to include at least one item everyone likes
- You can swap in alternative ingredients for picky eaters
- Can be adjusted to fit your nutritional needs
- Adjustable portions allow for everyone to decide their own portions
- Creates confidence in delivering consistently nutrient-dense foods
- You can make enough food for leftovers
Furthermore, this type of meal is a good way to educate kids about nutrition. By encouraging them to be mindful of their daily food choices, you build in lifelong healthy eating habits.
Real life examples with the Dinner Template
So what are some real life examples of meals created with a dinner template? Here are just a few:
- Pork Chops + Green Beans + Pineapple + Baked Potatoes
- Chicken Thighs + Spinach Salad + Broccoli + Strawberries + Rice
- Steak + Peas + Grapes + Quinoa
- Tilapia + Frozen California mixed vegetables + sliced cucumbers + peaches + a crescent roll
For protein, you can keep this really easy by prepping ahead of time or buying a rotisserie chicken. Similarly, you can use bagged salad, cans of fruit, and/or frozen veggies.
If you use this template the majority of the time, you can still add in family favorites like casseroles, lasagna, or chicken pot pie a few times per month. To include these choices, you can simply plan ahead and be mindful of the main course.
Here’s what I mean.
If you’re serving pasta, keep in mind it’s not the main course, your protein item is – the pasta is a small side dish. Alternatively, if you want pasta as your main, plan ahead to eat less calories throughout the rest of the day to allow for a higher-calorie dinner.
Think outside the box
Other ways to prepare and serve one meal for your family and make it work for you:
On spaghetti night, use spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles for a lower calorie pasta option. Or use chickpea pasta for a high protein option. You can sub gluten free pasta if needed.
On hamburger night, make a burger bowl. Chop up your hamburger onto a bed of leafy greens, and then add your tomato, cheese, pickles and onion on top!
For taco night, sub lean ground turkey for ground beef for a lower calorie option. Or make a taco salad!
Finally, remember: when you’re making these types of recipes, spend some time entering them ahead of time into MyFitnessPal (MFP). Using the recipe function within MyFitnessPal makes this quite easy by allowing for custom recipes and saving your most-loved meals for easy future entry.
Many women struggle with working toward their own health and nutrition goals while feeding their families.
Using a dinner template is a fantastic solution because you are preparing the same food for the entire family, offering a variety of options, and you can adjust what you put on your plate to meet your calorie and protein needs for the day.
Try it out – it might be your new favorite way to feed your kids their favorite foods, and not sabotage your own weight loss goals!