It starts with healthy nutrition! Summer break is almost over, and the back-to-school vibes are here. The hustle and bustle of getting your kids to school or soccer practice and running to work will sometimes leave you with no time to cook healthy and nutritious meals for you and your family. That’s why Parkland Health is here to help you achieve your health goals by giving you tips for meal prep!

Although meal prep takes time and dedication ahead of a busy week, it helps you stay organized, prepared and full of healthful energy. Creating a healthy habit of preparing homemade foods for your children is the perfect game plan for a parent and will set your youngsters on a path of healthy habits as they grow into adults. 

Melissa Mendez, Registered Dietitian at Parkland, recommends using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate program which helps you understand what and how much you can eat within your calorie allowance. These options depend on age, sex, height and physical activity. Consider these portions so that they provide the necessary nutrients and fuel to support your diet for a balanced meal:  

  • One to two cups of fruits 
  • One to three cups of vegetables 
  • Four to 10 ounces of grains 
  • Three to seven-ounce equivalent of proteins 
  • Three cups of dairy 

Mendez also recommends the following these tips when doing meal prep: 

  • Make meal prep plans and preparation during the weekend (perhaps, while watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup this month with your family and friends)!
  • Make sure to carve out 1-2 hours of the day to sit down to think of ideas and to create a grocery list. 
  • You can look at what you currently have in the pantry and think of fun and creative ideas using only those items. 
  • Include the family; ask the kids what they would like in the next week.
  • Have children help in the process:
    • They can show creativity by offering ideas.
    • The younger children can help by washing the fruit and vegetables or carefully setting the table.
    • The older children can help by cutting the fruits and vegetables or stirring the food while cooking.
    • Always supervise children in the kitchen.

For more information about how to eat balanced meals, visit