It’s 4:00pm, the kids are home from school and there’s 15 minutes to grab a snack and load up the hockey gear for the arena. But wait…it will be 7:30pm by the time we all get home from our activities. When are we going to fit in dinner? What do we have time to make? Drive through again? Frozen meal? Or everyone fend for themselves?
Practices and games over the dinner hour often leaves families running in different directions and eating on the fly. Fast food and convenience items can be a lifesaver in a pinch – but when it becomes the norm, it can have negative effects on everyone in the family. Parents often battle with excess weight put on during the hockey season from fast food and irregular meal times. Athletes and siblings miss out on much needed nutrients from whole grains and fresh vegetables found in home cooked nutritious meals. Last but not least, the forgotten element - family connection. The dinnertime is perhaps the most instrumental meal to keep families connected, especially for teenagers. Research has shown, teenagers who eat family meals at least 3x per week have significantly higher grades in school, better self esteem and less substance abuse (drugs and alcohol).
How do working families with kids in sport make the family meal happen? Plan ahead, Shop ahead, Cook ahead. Be ahead of the game. It can seem daunting to plan a weeks worth of meals, but you can start small with just a few days at a time. You’ll find you save time and money, while improving the health of the whole family.
Here’s 3 easy steps to get started:
The recipe is a game changer for busy families. Cook ahead this one versatile core ingredient and you can have a protein and vegetable packed meal on the table in less than 15 minutes. Using extra lean ground beef makes this suitable as a base for a pre-game meal – omit onions and garlic if you find them hard to digest.
Makes about 16 cups. Per ½ cup serving: 150Cal, 3g Carb, 6gFat, 2g Saturated Fat, 18g Protein, 1g Fibre, 220mg Sodium. Canada’s Food Guide Servings: 1 Meat/Alternative, 1 Vegetable
Now that that meat is cooked, seasoned and portioned – you simply have to take it out of the freezer, warm it up and add your ingredients.
Heidi Smith is a Sport Dietitian and Head of Nutrition at the Health and Performance Centre at the University of Guelph. She has worked alongside some of the worlds top hockey players including NHL, National, Olympic, Junior, and Rep. She is the author of the practical sport nutrition handbook entitled "Nutrition for the Long Run". Heidi is also a mother of 3 rep hockey players and understands the demands faced by todays sport focused families.