If you deal with picky kids (or even spouses) I highly recommend reading the book French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon. Several readers recommended it to me, and I am so glad they did. First of all, this book is very inspiring. Whether you are able to apply every single tactic to your life or not it gives you the confidence that kids do not have to be so limited when it comes to food. I know I am not the only one who often wonders why so many think that kids will only eat and enjoy “kid food” like pizza, chicken fingers, plain pasta, hot dogs, and macaroni & cheese.
Now I will say, as motivated as I felt after reading the book, there’s one huge component we’re lacking here in America. Apparently, in France, their schools, governments, and communities all work “together to create food and education systems that support parents in feeding their children well.” I don’t know about you, but I oftentimes feel like others are working against me (not with me) when it comes to feeding our next generation well. My daughters eat more junk food at school than I would ever dream of giving them at home. I can’t imagine how much easier things would be if everyone in our society was on the same page like they appear to be in France.
But rather than waiting around for that to happen we must just take matters into our own hands. And what I have learned from my own children is that converting a picky eater requires a gentle, yet persistent approach and LOTS of patience! Winning over a picky eater is not something that will happen overnight, but if you really make it a priority in weeks, months, or even a year I guarantee you will start to see some of the dramatic changes you are hoping for. And in the end it will of course be worth the effort.
10 great takeaways (the “French Food Rules”) from the book French Kids Eat Everything:
- Parents: You are in charge of your children’s food education.
Apparently the French think us Americans cram our schedules so full with activities (like sports, art, music, dance, etc.) that it leaves little time to teach our children “some of the most basic, important things they need to know, like the proper way to prepare, cook, and eat healthy food.” You have to admit it’s hard to argue with that criticism. And I just love the analogy the author uses when she says, “French parents think about healthy eating habits the way we think about toilet training, or reading.” If your child had trouble learning to read or using the potty would you just give up? Same should go for eating a variety of healthy foods…I know, they are right and it stings.
- Avoid emotional eating. Food is not a pacifier, a distraction, a toy, a bribe, a reward, or a substitute for discipline.
I feel like we are so far down this rabbit hole it might be hard to get out, but let’s face it they have a good point here! Food is for nourishment, hunger, and nutrition…not for being a good listener.
- Parents schedule meals and menus. Kids eat what adults eat: no substitutes and no short-order cooking.
If this were a reality for everyone it would certainly make life a lot easier!
- Food is social. Eat family meals together at the table, with no distractions.
How you eat can be as important as what you eat.
- Eat vegetables of all colors of the rainbow. Don’t eat the same main dish more than once per week.
I agree that variety is extremely important, but I am personally a little stumped when it comes to the second half of this rule. We love leftovers at our house and feel they are such a time saver…but that certainly means eating the same main dish more than once, or in some cases, more than twice per week!
- For picky eaters: You don’t have to like it, but you do have to taste it.
For fussy eaters: You don’t have to like it, but you do have to eat it.
When considering these statements it’s also VERY important to remember that “you’re not going to convince the kids to love food by being too strict with them. It has to be enjoyable. Not necessarily loads of fun, but simply pleasurable.” This takes us back to that “gentle persistence” I mentioned above.
- Limit snacks, ideally one per day (two maximum), and not within one hour of meals.
Now, I know out of all the rules on this list that “no more constant snacking” will likely cause the most uproar. But according to the author it’s okay to feel hungry in-between meals and guess what…your kids might eat a better dinner if they are actually hungry!
- Take your time, for both cooking and eating. Slow food is happy food.
“North Americans associate food most with health and least with pleasure. The French are at the opposite extreme: they are the most pleasure-oriented and the least health-oriented about food.” And ironically enough “20 percent of kids in the United States are obese, but only 3 percent in France.” Now if that doesn’t send a message, I don’t know what does.
- Eat mostly real, homemade food, and save treats for special occasions. (Hint: Anything processed is not “real” food.)
See…I am not the only one preaching this statement! :) But “so much of what French people eat is, by default, ‘real food‘” so I’d have to say they don’t exactly face the same challenges we do when it comes to encountering junk food on almost every corner. The French do have an admirable approach though when it comes to the processed, junk food their kids may want to eat on occasion. They do not police their children’s food intake (or ban all junk food), but instead attempt to “train their children to eat a balanced diet and to realize how much healthier they feel if they eat mostly ‘real food.'” I’ve always said that if my daughters only avoid processed food “because mommy said so” then it’s not going to get us very far.
- (The Golden Rule) Eating is joyful, not stressful. Treat the food rules as habits or routines rather than strict regulations; it’s fine to relax them once in a while.
I couldn’t agree more with the importance of this rule, but striking the perfect balance between “good nutrition” and “relaxing the rules” is no easy task. And maybe that’s because most American children are faced with processed, junk food on a regular basis (at birthday parties, friend’s houses, church events, soccer practice, school celebrations, etc.). As I mentioned above, our society is (unfortunately) not exactly working together on these issues like they are in France. Regardless though, I agree it is not “healthy” to constantly be stressed out about the food you eat.
In addition to this list of rules there were so many other startling facts and insightful statements that I took away from this book. I wish I could share them all here, but since that’s not a very practical idea I will instead just highly recommend that everyone go out and read the book yourselves! I promise you won’t regret it…not to mention there are a handful of kid-friendly recipes in the back.
*THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED*
The winners are:
- Ann – “I abide by the kids eat what adults eat rule and don’t offer other options. We also stick to real foods, minimal sugar. So I think that helps kids eat real food without complaint.”
- Emily – “My husband can be a picky eater, so my trick is preparing the same food a number of times. He may not like everything, but perseverance pays off!”
- Nicky – “Rule #6 is the big one in our house….even if you’ve tasted it 50 times, taste it again!”
2,974 thoughts on “Book Review: French Kids Eat Everything”
I read this book after living in France for some time. The author over exaggerates and simplifies a lot of principles, but mostly, she stereotypes to the extremes. I work with children, primarily, and I can safely say while there is a difference in the direction of what Le Billon mentions, it is not as easy and perfect, or ever close, to what she says. When reading this book, perhaps listen to the principles because they may help guide your children, but absolutely do not take what she says about the French parent/child/food relations as truth. I let two different French mothers borrow the book and they both laughed at how wrong she is about the French culture. She overanalyses things that do not have to be analysed.
As a single mom on a limited income and with five children, we all sat down together to eat dinner. I love to cook and I try to cook things I knew my children like, but I didn’t really have picky eaters. We didn’t have enough money to have snacks or soda in the house. I did bake every day and the sun never sets on a cookie. LOL
This book is utter fantasy about French life. Having lived and worked in France for a few years (with elementary school children) I can assure you that what the author has laid out as French life & eating habits is not based in reality. French children eat snacks regularly, obesity has become an issue in France as it is elsewhere. They share all the bad food habits the rest of us do. Not to discredit the suggestions laid out in the book, they are perfectly fine but are in no way an accurate reflection of how French families live & eat.
Meh, who invented 3 meals a day anyway? People are so uptight! If your hungry eat, don’t eat because it’s 12:00pm and time for lunch. I never have, nor does my child. Might be contributing to weight gain. Just my opinion
I love all but one of these, you guessed it, I don’t allow constant snacking, but my kids are hungry between meals and I give them a healthy snack or two every day. They still eat great at meal times for me :)
I read this book over the summer, and it was very inspiring on so many levels. I too wish schools as well as our society were more supportive of parents trying to teach their children healthy eating habits and appreciation for good quality nutritious food. Sometimes I feel as though I am the odd man out in terms of raising healthy eaters. Fortunately, our efforts at home have paid off despite any negative societal influences.
I began my real food journey in January 2015. I so wish I would have started eating this way when raising my children, who are now 29, 27, 24, and 21. (Hoping to be the weird nana who feeds the 2 grands real food). Recently I started substitute teaching in our school system and am so bothered by the allowed snacks given every day for kindergarten. Why can’t it just be mandatory that all snacks be fruit, veggies, or dried fruit?The class snack cupboard is full of Oreos, animal crackers, fruit snacks (which shouldn’t contain the word fruit at all), Cheetos, and every other non-nutrition food out there. It saddens me.
Could you do a large 4PM snack and later supper? I started giving my kids large snack a little before 4 and moved supper to 6ish. My toddler’s tantrums and Kindergartner’s whining at supper time (which before I ignored and bore with gritted teeth) has stopped for the most part. It means less down time between supper and bath/bedtime, though. I’ve started doing baths between the end of playtime and starting supper (loving this by the way and may continue it in the school year on non-ballgame days. Its one less chore to do after supper.) Hope this helps!
Does anyone have advice for tantruming toddler screaming for food while I prepare meals? Working fulltime, I do plan meals most nights but by 5pm my 3 year old son is flipping out to eat. I’ll hand him an apple or banana but then he doesn’t eat most of his dinner.
I’m barely in the door , let alone have dinner ready to go at 5pm…
Have raw veggies cut up and ready to go on hand at all times, at least if he spoils his appetite is will be on real food, and use your crockpot to have dinner all ready for you the moment you walk in the door.
Could you try a larger 4PM snack and a later dinner? I started a letting my toddler and Kindergartner eat a large (healthy) snack a little before 4PM and have supper about 6 or 6:30. The tantrums for food from my toddler and whining from my Kindergartner (which I previously ignored and bore with gritted teeth) has almost completely stopped now.
When my kids were this age I would sometimes feed them the raw ingredients as it was quicker and meant they often are the more nutritional stuff first – so raw carrot, raw pepper, hunk of cheese, raw broccoli (did not expect that!) they even went through phase of eating raw oats mixed with maple syrup for breakfast. Or give them a carb as a snack but then don’t at dinner – so they get the nutrition but not double portions. Good luck I am sure you will find a way that works for you
I do all the things suggested by other here. I also make my kids open their lunch box and eat the leftovers–there is always something.
I agree with other post have dinner earlier. Pre prepared check out frozen crock pot meals on pinterest loads of ideas .we all eat early as a family 5 to 530 that way little ones can get to bed before 7 without having only just eaten .
I had to laugh, as one of my good friends has been living in France for the past 8-months, and just about to come back to the States. Granted her 6-year old is a “very good eater” and did not suffer from “picker eater syndrome”. Their stay there is research for a book her husband will be writing – So much of their focus has been on French food and culture. I have been forward many “recaps” about their time and adventures living in the French Countryside and in those are many photos of their daughter gobbling up a huge variety of foods the average American adult does not eat (in some cases won’t touch with a 10′ pole). Most recently, their daughter was pictured slurping an oyster. It made me smile so big! “When in Rome” er a the South of France …
I’m French and I have been living in austin for 16 years. Our cultures are different so you can’t compare. Kids do not eat everything in France (:)) but one thing for sure, there is a time to eat and it is the same for the whole family. We seat down at the same time at the table and nothing special for the kids. You eat what is on the table or you don’t. When we get up from the table, it is over. No snacking in front of the tv!
I freaked out the first time I saw the chips alley! Crazy!
Eat fresh and simple everyday, you will feel so much better. And no soda nor juice as we all know, they are loaded with sugar! Stay healthy my friends!
I have a 23 month old and she does not eat processed food and I buy organic and cook all of our meals, but I am having a hard time getting her to eat what we eat. She is being very selective in what she wants, and I feel very frustrated when she will try it and tell me she doesn’t like it. Just wondering when some of the others post that if their kids don’t like it or say they don’t want it, then they don’t eat, how old are your kids? I just don’t think that I can tell my daughter that she then gets nothing else…
Always give your child options that she will like. If you give her a few options with a couple that you’re sure she’ll like the she’ll eat the regular foods and just make her try the new foods. That way she won’t be starving. 2 years olds are just beginning to open their minds or taste buds to new foods. Keep giving everything to her. If it makes her gag, or you can tell it is disgusting to her then of course do not force her to eat it. But if she just pushes it ways or gives a little “yuck”, believe me, she will like it further down the road. And when she’s hungry enough (2-3hours later). She might eat those iffy foods.
I have 3 small kids. They are great at eating veggies and fruits. What I have discovered with them though is that the simpler the food, the better they eat. So I make a simplified version of what the adults are having. So if we are having burritos, they get the same ingredients but all separate on the plate. Or a veggie pasta – I will wait to mix it together for the adults until the last minute. Or whatever…The more I mix the food together, the less likely they are to eat it. What I have noticed is that as they are getting older, they start assembling the food the way we do. My almost 8 year old pretty much eats the same way we do with some personal preference exceptions.
I recently saw a movie on Netflix called “Food Beware- The French Organic Revolution” and even though it goes thru many of the tactics that this book is talking about I found that the parents in the movie was also struggling with what their children should eat or not. As a mother of 2 teens and 2 elementary school children getting my children to eat organic, or healthy, everyday is challenging even though I live in NYC. As mothers, we can just do our best and hope for the better. Kiss our children and love them because they grow up so fast.
My daughter has been going to French cooking classes after school and went to camp this summer. She is learning so much, eating everything she makes and is more open to trying new foods. The teacher is firm and adheres to this sort of expectation about meals and food. I am grateful for the exposure my daughter has had to another culture. The tenants followed in the French school are invaluable.
I am French and I am also a little tired of all those books that show how the French do it. I feel writers get this romantic idea of how things are done and tend to depict a really black and white picture. Let’s face it many French children are very picky eaters and parents make them special meals, every day. French kids are in school from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm. So when it comes to snacking, they snack around 10:00 am and then again after school. That is of course in addition to actual meals. I’ve never come across any child who did not snack.
Thank you Alex!~
Here in Austria its the same. Kids go to school with a snack. I know I pack one every day for both kids…there isn’t a kid in the class without a snack. It may be a sandwich,a piece of fruit,a pastry,jogurts,nutella bread or pretzels , to be honest I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen picky Austrian kids, picky French kids, and picky American kids.
Love these rules!
However, I would never be able to completely ban the no snacking -a body needs a different amount of calories and nutrition from day to day, depending on what one is doing (physical labour v.s. relaxing infront of t.v.) I really think a healthy snack is necessary sometimes (not to mention people with health conditions where certain levels of nutrition need to be kept up). I wonder how well French children concentrate at school without snack time? Maybe just fine or better, but I have trouble believing so.
Also, emotional eating. Being really nervous or anxious is tiresome on the body and some extra food might be doing some good on some days!
I enjoyed the post! I don’t understand why anyone would get upset, it’s just an alternative perspective. Agreeing to disagree is okay!
First and foremost, don’t let your kids rule you! You are the parent, they don’t dictate to you what they will and will not eat. If they honestly don’t like something OK, but if they don’t want to eat something because they want something else, or just don’t want to eat that, then they don’t eat at all. Parents should not have to negotiate with their children to eat something, or break down and give them somehting else that they want. When I was a child I had what was put in front of me, if I didn’t like it, I didn’t eat. If more parents did that type of parenting, I think they would find that their children will eat most things.
I really do NOT care what the French are or are not doing and am sick of Americans really caring so much about them and CELEBS for that matter! I do usually love and agree with most of your blogs, sorry this one annoyed me!
You do realize that his was a book review, and really had virtually nothing to do with the French, right? The idea of “French kids…” Is simply a vehicle through which the author shows that it is possible to have children with healthy eating habits, and for us to be good models for them. Way to intentionally miss the point with what is likely politically minded drivel.
Not only that, but you should really travel to France. It might make you realize that there is much to be learned from other cultures, and hey, good wine, cheese, and a 35 hr work week aren’t bad either.
It is ecouraging and didheartening to hear of so many super women. I try to be a perfect mom and work and go to school and eat and prepare healthy meals and i admit I often fail. I am tired. I think Joy is frustrated jealous and confused. I often marvel @ women that seem to be able to pull off the juggeling act. I thought it might be really cool for somebody to write a book and enterview these “perfect moms” just to find out exactly how they do it. I want to see schedules, I want to know how every second is spent cause I don’t know how to do it and I am tired of eeling “not good enough” all the time. It is so exhausting. We shouldn’t judge eachother we should help eachother and stick together; being a woman is challenging no matter what your choices or
Never coming back to this blog……women mistreating women……yuck
I was a single mother, worked full time and took college classes with a child in every kind of sports and I still had time to make home cooked meals and tesch my child proper proper nutrition. It can be done if you want it.
I disagree with the one that says the kids eat what the parents eat. What happens if what the parents is calorie dense and lacks nutrients? Should the kids also be expected the follow suit?
Hi Steph. I think that there is an assumption here that the meals served will be nutritious. ~Amy
My family of 7 became real food eaters due to our tight budget. We cannot afford the costly healthcare and the best thing to stay healthy is to eat nutritious food. We cook everyday as our flexible schedule permits us to do so: my husband and I only work part time, I go to school twice a week, and my children come home at 6pm. Food prep and cooking are a family business that my kids have to help as well. I told my kids that in order to eat good food, they need to help with the food prep and cooking. Our meal is usually ready in less than an hour as we eat rice everyday and only need to make the main dish and our “salad” (shredded carrots or cucumber with vinaigrette). My kids are so proud that they participate in the food prep and cooking and they eat meals with joy. They set and clean up the table, do the dishes by hands, and put away the utensils we used afterwards. Kids follow what parents tell them but we need to trust them that they can do it. It’s been my 4th year doing this and it works pretty well. Try it and you will see! Note: kids are aged between 18 and 8.
“Spoiled stay-at-home-mom” is an oxymoron, Joy.
I find so many of these comments so pretentious. Especially the ones complaining about the first comment, that gloat about how they work all day, own their own business and look at me I can get my kids to eat real food, sit down for meals every night, yada yada. Please get over yourselves. We all struggle with something. Even the French. It’s crap like this that just makes me want to withdraw from the whole blogging world, especially the ones where women are involved. We are such caddy people sometimes.
Actually the suggestions made remind me when I was growing up.that is pretty much my experience with food. I am old so I come from a different experience that my grandchildren. I think parents are the reason for the mis-eating and so many snacks. The school lunches are mandated nutritionally by the federal government. If there’re snacks to be bought at school, don’t send money for them.
I had to take a double take when I read that nasty “stay at home mom” comment. Seriously grow up. I own my own business, and we eat a meal together at the table almost every night. Is it hard, yes! Is it worth it, YES! Slow cookers, weekend cooking and roasting a couple of chickens on a off day to use through the week for meals is just a few easy ways to make the meals happen. No need to get ugly, just ask for advice.
I think maybe joy meant that some sahm are extremely lucky to be in such a position that they can do that. I would feel extremely lucky if I could always be home when my kids were and could spend more time with them. Just trying to look for the best in people.
“Spoiled” is definitely not synonymous with “lucky.” Please don’t trivialize a family’s choice to have the mother at home as “lucky.”
Well said. Why do we have to try and bring each other down. I don’t think joy meant to be offensive. I think she just desperately wishes she was at home.
Sorry the other comment was not in response to yours. I am not sure why anyone feels the need to be so angry with joy. The only reason I would be angry would be if I was unhappy I would feel truly lucky if I could go back to being a sahm. For me their would be no other way to describe it. The opportunity to spend more time with my kids would be an honour.. I am not saying it is easy. It’s just the best job in the world.
These rules are fantastic. I would say follow them to the letter. About rule 6 that is the best of all, but I would say to all children, you will eat what is put on your plate, all of it, whether you like it or not is immaterial. If you do not eat all your food there will be no more until the next meal, no exceptions. Next meal then you should be hungry and will eat all your food. Eat real food, that means no buying it if it comes in a box, bag(itos, chips)the only exception to this would be rolled or whole grains that come in a box or bag, or a can, buy fresh fruits and all fresh vegetables and preferable organic. Organic meats whenever possible. By all means the family should eat together at the same table for breakfast and dinner. No tv, no cell phones or other electronic devices allowed during the meals. No answering land lines during meals, if it is important they can leave messages or call you back. The art of family communication has been lost because of these electronic devices imho.
I sort of need to disagree with 3, say the child truly hates tomatoes, would you make stuffed tomatoes as your main course? That would just be cruel. I use tomatoes as an example because while I’m not a mom, I’m a college student and I still live with my parents my dad literally gags at the taste of tomatoes so we don’t have them as a main dish. If instead of the parent he was the child would it suddenly be okay to force him to eat it?
ad yes I do realize that children will claim to not like something just so they can have mac and cheese, I was exactly the same way as a kid
Personally, I felt “spoiled” when I was a working mom. I could afford to get my hair done, buy myself new clothes, go out on dates with my husband to nice restaurants, etc. Heck, I was able to have conversations with adults!! Now? I may be at home, but I work all day (and sometimes night). I am tired and exhausted by the time the day is done. Financially, there is little room for extras. I recently had to cut cable to make ends meet. We buy second hand clothes. We hardly ever eat out. I can’t remember the last time I had my hair professionally cut or had my nails done. I chose to be a stay-at-home-mom and I chose to forgo 50% of our family income because that is what was best for OUR family. Every family makes the decisions that are best for them. However, one thing is for sure, I am hardly spoiled. But even when I was a working mom, my family still ate healthy. I was the queen of 15 minute meals.
My personal opinion is that NO MATTER what role you play in your family as the parent, guardian etc YOU are responsible to educate your children. Teaching them healthy eating as a lifestyle is key. Using the excuse that your life is busy etc etc is also teaching them something – yes you guessed it – not good. So the working parent vs the stay at home parent argument – gets old. Stop blaming the other for your shortcomings. Start focusing on your family and figuring out ways that will benefit them. Maybe ask suggestions!!!!!
One more thing…my family had stay at home moms frequently but dad was also stay at home…We were farmers. All worked in the field, or in some other way on the farm. By the time I came along many were older (senior citizens) so much of the farming was gone…But the point is working moms are not new they just work differently
Well there are easy ways to get around the worry of working moms…its called the slow cooker, or making meals and freezing so that when you plan the meal you set it out to thaw and reheat it when you get home. It’s like so many other things we can always find excuses not to but need to make time to do. I grew up in a house where we had to eat what was served or you didn’t get supper and no supper meant no snack later. I will eat just about anything. There were exceptions. If it were known you honestly did not like then something was made on the side for you at the same time the meal was made. Usually a pot pie.
I agree with all of these guidelines (and I use that word intentionally) with one exception. My twelve-year-old son has a metabolism that never (and I mean that) stops. He snacks at least twice a day on fruit and raw nuts, sometimes yogurt, (very lucky that he has no allergies). He still eats as much as any adult at a meal and is fit and healthy. If a growing active kid wants a snack, as long as it’s a healthy one, I’m not going to say no.
Hey Guys…. Don’t feed the trolls. It just encourages them to hang around and pick fights.
Regarding the post…. Except for the “no repeats” we abide by the rules pretty consistently. Since finding this awesome site we’ve spent the last year making the transition (on a VERY tight budget) to pastured meat and mostly organic veggies. My kids eat everything they are served as they’ve done since birth. When my little guys made the transition to food, they just ate pureed/mashed versions of everything we ate. They don’t question anything that appears on the table, and we enjoy pleasant meals. In contrast, my sister fed her son “toddler” food and consistently made him separate meals. As a result, he won’t eat anything without kicking up a huge fuss and dinner time is always an ordeal. Same family, just different belief systems.
Lisa, haters gonna hate. Pay it no mind.
My kids live by MOST of these rules!! We don’t use food for rewards! We snack every once in a while. We live off REAL food. No sodas, candies, and definitely not a buttload of sugar. We taste everything and we eat together. I have to add; I am not a stay at home mom. I work! :) I put my kids HEALTH before the opinions of others and the health of my family right in line with it! People criticize me for not allowing candy cookies and soda all the time, but my children are healthy and happy and actually choose not to drink or eat those things! So glad I read this!
Haha, I love Joy’s comment…”spoiled”. Clearly you have no idea what it’s like to be a stay at home mom and that it is actually MORE work then whatever you do at your 9 to 5 job. There is no need to be so hostile. You don’t like this blog, get off and don’t follow it. But I hope you will come to realize that there IS time for real food in ANYONE’s schedule. I have 3 children 4 and under and my own business (a dance studio with 700 students) and a husband who is away every week for 2 days and the entire family eats real food. It’s what you make a priority and what is important to YOU. You make time for things that are important. I only hope you will realize it one day.
I am amazed at the attitudes of some women with regards to stay-at-home moms vs. Moms who work outside the home. With my first child, I was able to stay home. I did all the shopping, cooking, and care of the home. When he went to kindergarten I began my career as a teacher for students who need a little extra support. Surprise! My daughter came along and I was not able to stay home with her. However, my husband helps with the shopping, cooking (with my help), and care of the home. I believe it is a personal choice and women in both situations make sacrifices for their families. As for eating healthier, as a stay-at home mom I cooked day by day. As a mom working outside the home, I do most of my prep work on the weekends so that meal time is pleasurable – even on a hectic day. Negativity towards others is not necessary. If eating healthy is important to you then you will find a way to make it work.
Lisa, Thank you for all of the tips and recipes that allow me to prepare healthy meals for my family.