Eating well with kids
The best way to make sure your kids eat a nutritious breakfast is for you to eat one too! When grocery shopping, consider stocking up on a few different breakfast options for the week. It’s easy to get stuck in a breakfast rut. The more choice they have, the more likely your family will eat breakfast.
On weekends, have kids help prepare breakfast for the whole family. Start with something simple and get more advanced as they learn their way around the kitchen. Here’s a list for beginners:
- homemade oatmeal or other grains made without sugar and topped with yogurt and fruit
- whole grain toast topped with peanut or other nut butter, with fruit and a glass of milk on the side
- yogurt and pre-cut fruit and nuts
- fruit smoothies
- scrambled eggs and toast, with a side of fruit
- whole grain cereal and fruit
Get your children involved. They can help you prepare lunches in the morning or the night before. Kids can clean out their lunch bag, wash veggies and fruit, help cut them up and pack them as healthy snacks.
Sandwiches – Try cutting them into different shapes. Or you can swap sliced bread for whole wheat pita, tortilla wraps or bagels. The same old fillings will taste better if it doesn’t look like a sandwich!
Hot lunch – Fill a thermos with soup, pasta, veggie-fried rice, curries and other leftovers for a quick and wholesome meal.
Salads – Assemble a filling salad with plenty of lettuce, veggies, nuts, protein (like tuna, a hard-boiled egg or leftover meat). Fill a small container with a vinaigrette dressing to pour over the salad at lunchtime.
Bento box – Using small containers, pack a little bit of everything. Try to get something from each of the food groups, like:
- crackers and cheese, grapes, carrots and a muffin
- pita wedges with salsa or guacamole, apple slices and assorted raw veggies
- leftover chicken or beef, sliced peppers, clementine and pretzels
With their small stomachs, younger children can’t always meet their nutritional needs at mealtimes. Even older kids and adults need energy in between meals to keep going. Healthy snacks can give us all a boost, especially after school or when going to and from activities.
Keep healthy snacks and drinks handy – pack them in your bag or backpack and on car journeys. You’ll be less likely to be tempted by unhealthy processed foods like chips, chocolates or candy.
Healthy anytime snacks:
- bite-sized vegetables (carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, broccoli florets, celery sticks)
- whole wheat pita with hummus or bean dip
- whole grain toast with fruit spread or nut butter
- cheese and whole grain crackers
- a bowl of whole grain cereal and milk, topped with berries
- yogurt with granola topping
- fresh fruit or fruit cups
- yogurt smoothie
- popsicles made with puréed fruit or yogurt
The end of the day is hectic for most families. Good news! Your dinners don’t need to be fancy to be healthy. Planning ahead and having all the ingredients in your kitchen makes it easier to get a simple meal on the table quickly.
- whole wheat pasta and sauce
- meat or vegetarian tacos with toppings like lettuce, tomato, avocado, salsa and cheese
- curries with rice
- grilled, roasted or baked fish, chicken or beef with at least 2 sides of seasonal veggies
- homemade pizza with lots of veggies
- stews or soups – pop these in the slow cooker before you leave in the morning to arrive home to dinner in a flash
Sliced apples, carrot sticks and small broccoli “trees” are more inviting to smaller hands and appetites than whole fruits and vegetables. They’ll be more likely to try new things and eat more of what they like!
Raw, fresh, dried, canned and frozen offer slightly different tastes and textures. If your child won’t eat cooked peas, serve them raw and see what happens!
Mix vanilla yogurt and fruit like strawberries, mango or banana in a blender. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
Smoothies make great on-the-go breakfasts and snacks. Combine fruit, vegetables, yogurt and ice along with milk, soy milk or rice milk in a blender. Blend until smooth and enjoy.
How to encourage good food habits in your kids
We all want our children to get the nutrients they need to grow and develop. But this can be challenging. Not only is it hard to fit healthy choices into busy days, there is a wide array of processed food and sugary drinks tempting kids almost everywhere they go.
Helping your kids eat well now will make them more likely to eat well as they get older.