Inexpensive options for healthy family meals
EHS Encourages Eating Healthy

April Miller, nutritionist with Early Head Start, educates families on the importance of eating healthy.  The need to promote healthy eating habits came to the attention of the Family Foundation/Early Head Start program with the realization that many of their families relied on fast food as a too frequent option for dinner.  For many reasons especially the financial cost and health benefit, it was determined to find a way to help families with this struggle.

The cost of frequently eating like this can be detrimental to your wallet and your health.  The nutritionist noted this trend among our families and worked together with other EHS staff to develop better options that would be easy, healthy and inexpensive.  Slow cookers were recognized to be a tremendous aid to achieve better meal options.  Research and development went into the production of a Slow Cooker Recipe Book that was printed and distributed to all families with a slow cooker for home use.  In addition to the recipe book, each of the six program sites was visited by the nutritionist to demonstrate the ease in using a slow cooker to prepare tasty, healthy meals quickly.  At these presentations parents were used as timekeepers to document the speedy preparation of a healthy meal.  For families who were unable to attend the site presentations the nutritionist visited homes to demonstrate this service. 

In all instances families responded in an overwhelmingly positive manner how significantly this changed their meal time.  Some of the responses from our families included that they now use their slow cooker regularly at least once a week. Some families were eating at different times than their children but since the slow cooker meal has the entire meal ready this allowed everyone to come together and eat as a family.  Just taking five minutes in the morning to dump ingredients in the slow cooker allows for a ready-to-serve meal at dinner time after a long day.  Importantly, families responded that from the cooking presentations they were able to spend more time with their children instead of spending time planning and preparing dinner.  Families all responded how appreciative they were of the slow cooker experience and how easy and inexpensive using the slow cooker is to their family. 

Since the introduction of slow cookers to families additional resources are available to families with slow cooker recipes in the monthly nutrition newsletter.  Also as new families join the program nutrition education and use of the slow cooker is a service presented to families.  Another source that helps our families eat inexpensively and healthy was the award of The Family Meals Grant. This grant has provided nutrition education surrounding how to prepare quick and nutritious meals with commonly found food staples in their pantry, fridge and freezer.  Education has been provided to families from this grant on stove top cooking using a skillet and a menu list of 10 meals is provided in the link below to make no recipe, no measure entrees for family meals.  Bon Appétit!

10 No-Recipe Entrees that Cook in a Stovetop Skillet!