by Kendra from Nevada
If you put a chocolate donut and an apple in front of your child, which option would they choose? I know for a fact that my children would not hesitate to choose the donut. After many apples have gone bad, I knew I had to get creative to help develop healthy eating habits and save money on our food budget.
Let me share some ways I changed up our routine.
The first thing I did was eliminate all the sugary, sweet snacks and donuts from our kitchen. Therefore, they would have no unhealthy options to choose from. I have picky eaters so things can get challenging around mealtime.
Here are some mealtime ideas that have worked for us.
Add a tasty dipping sauce like barbecue to keep them interested. A trick I used this week was a mix of riced cauliflower and broccoli to serve with cubes of salmon. I cubed the salmon into big nuggets. They dipped their salmon nuggets in low sodium sweet chili sauce. I allowed the children to prep the dinner salad and choose healthy toppings of their choice. The leftover salmon nuggets were used the next day to build their own tacos. Building their tacos and allowing them to assist me in the kitchen gave them a sense of pride over their colorful plates. We used whole grain tortillas, a variety of greens, sliced seasoned tomatoes, cucumbers, and of course, a special sauce made of plain Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and a bit of Mrs. Dash seasoning. Building their own tacos was such a success.
Taking the children to the grocery store is always an adventure. We stick to the perimeter of the store to avoid all the sugary temptations in the aisles. I enjoy seeing them choose mounds of fresh produce. I invite them to help me wash and safely store the produce away while also explaining the benefits of eating clean, healthy, and fresh foods.
I also include them in weekly meal planning and daily meal preparation. Children are curious and when they are in the kitchen, it has been the best time to let them sample more healthy options available to them. For our spaghetti dinner last week, I let the children snack on colorful bell peppers slices until dinner was ready. My picky eater surprisingly loved them all except the green pepper. He gladly hogged all the yellow and red bell pepper slices. It was nice to see my children chatting about vegetables. They ate loaded vegetable spaghetti without complaining or picking vegetables out of their plate. I think it was the secret family tomato sauce that had them quietly licking their plates clean.
After about two weeks of including the children in grocery shopping, meal planning, food preparation, and family cooking, I decided to leave the cakes and donut options for special occasions like birthdays and holidays. Everything in moderation, right? I am so grateful that these few tricks and changes to our routine have benefited my children. This new routine is the way to move forward to help develop healthy eating habits for my children.
My name is Kendra. I am a mother of two picky eaters. I spend most of the day in my kitchen strategically planning and preparing meals that give me mostly thumbs up. I show my love by sharing my passion for serving delicious healthy meals to the people I love.
Want more ways to create healthy eating habits for your family? wichealth.org has a free online lesson called Help Your Child Develop Healthy Eating Habits. Find it on wichealth.org the Children Ages 1-5 category!