Plan, plan, plan. Ditch the spontaneity to be in with a chance of eating healthy, it's the only way. If you are ravenous by the time you prepare your meal, you are more likely to make an irrational decision about what to eat and eat more of it. If you have planned your meals in advance, your cupboards will be stocked with everything you need. It doesn't mean you can't be spontaneous but it does mean that you remain in control. You can plan all your meals and snacks or you can just plan your main meals, whatever works for you.
Take 30 minutes out of your week to plan all your meals and prepare your shopping list. A meal planner template can be downloaded here. Write down what you are going to eat and the items that you will need to make it. Of course there will always be some fresh and store cupboard ingredients that you will require every week such as a selection of fresh vegetables.
Feeding a fussy family
You may have to cater for a number of fussy eaters during the week but most families have their favourite meals. To get in the swing of meal planning work on a two week rotation of meals, maybe adding one new recipe to try each week. You could plan Monday to Friday and leave weekends free to eat out, eat with friends or try something new.
Variety of vegetables
Aim to eat as many different fresh vegetables as you possibly can during the day, and more importantly during the week. As a general rule, eat vegetables with every meal, or at least two varieties with a light meal and three varieties with a main meal. Vegetables can be raw or cooked, preferably steamed or lightly stir-fried so that they retain as many nutrients as possible. Think colours of the rainbow when buying your veg. Vegetables should make up half your plate.
Everyone should start the day with a good breakfast. It doesn't have to be cooked, it doesn't have to take more than a couple of minutes to prepare but having a good breakfast means that you are less likely to snack during the morning. Try not to have the same thing everyday, maybe have three different breakfasts during the week. A good breakfast should contain:
some protein (whole milk, natural bio yoghurt, eggs, nuts, meat or fish),
some good quality unrefined carbohydrates (unsweetened wholegrain cereal, porridge, wholegrain bread, vegetables)
some good fat (whole milk, natural bio yoghurt, nuts, seeds, butter, eggs)
some vitamin C (fresh fruit, green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli)
Ideally lunch should be larger than dinner but in most people's lives lunch means a light meal such as a sandwich, salad or bowl of soup. If you are at work or out and about then prepare salads and soups the night before so you don't have to rush around in the morning. Pre-cook brown rice, quinoa or use pulses such as lentils and beans to bulk out salads. If you will be somewhere which has a microwave then soup is a good option. Soup is easy to make and can be frozen in individual portions. A good lunch should have the same balance as breakfast; some lean protein, some unrefined carbs, a little good fat and some vitamin C.
This is usually the main meal of the day and needs to be a good satisfying, nutritious meal to last you through the evening and overnight.
base your meal around some lean protein; meat, fish, eggs, cheese, pulses
add some carbohydrate: potato, rice, pasta
add plenty of vegetables or salad
Vary your main meals
When planning your meals for a week, a good plan is to base your meals around the following;
white meat twice a week (chicken or turkey)
red meat once a week (beef, lamb, pork)
an egg or vegetarian dish once a week (omelette, lentils, chickpeas etc.)
white fish once a week (cod, haddock, sea bass)
oily fish twice a week (salmon, trout, mackerel)
Keep a log
Make sure you keep a list or recipe book of all the meals that your family have tried, tested and liked. This way you use this as reference when planning a week of meals. When you have built up a bank of suitable meals you could try a monthly rotation instead making meal planning fuss-free and very simple.