Cooking For Kids

If you’ve got kids, you know what it’s like trying to get them to eat something they don’t want to. It seems that it doesn’t matter how early to start them off, by a certain age, they aren’t going to eat their vegetables. Fear not, you’re not alone; and there are things you can do until they grow out of this phase:

Avoid so called “kid foods”. You know what I’m talking about. Chicken nuggets, mac n cheese, hot dogs etc. This concept was developed by restaurants to give kids smaller portions of foods they like. Problem is it has caught on at home, and it’s not good for kids. Let them eat what you eat, and if you eat in restaurants every so often, let them have their favorites, but let them know this is only once in a while.

Ask kids for help planning meals but make some guidelines for the dishes they choose. For example, one friend of mine has meal planning with her 3 kids down to a science; they each pick one meal a week, and her and husband do. The rules are the same for each of them: Meals have to have 3 veggies; at least one green, and only one starchy. Everyone must take at least three bites of each thing, and eating all your food guarantees a sweet healthy treat when mealtime is over.

Avoid hiding vegetables in foods kids already love. It’s one thing to add vegetables to pizza, it’s another to puree some squash and add it to their mac n cheese. Doing this doesn’t teach kids healthy habits; it encourages eating bad foods even if you’ve boosted the nutrient content.

Set examples. This is probably one of the most important ones. You can’t expect that your kids will eat their broccoli if you don’t.

Cooking with kids and having them help you in the kitchen when they can; they’re much more likely to eat something they helped prepare than something they just sat down at the table to. When your cooking with kids give them age appropriate tasks: Grating cheese or peeling potatoes are things kids can do. In addition teaching them early on the importance of cooking and eating as a family makes it more likely they will develop these habits when they get older.

Don’t allow snacks 2-3 hours before mealtime. This includes juice and soda. Getting a kid to eat their veggies is hard enough when they’re hungry. If they’ve filled up on other stuff, good luck.

You probably can’t avoid your kids eating bad foods all the time; they’re going to be away from you at some point, whether in school or at friends’ houses. You can ensure that almost every meal or snack they get from you is healthy and nutritious. This builds good habits and increases the likelihood that they’ll make good choices when they aren’t by your side.

Do you have any healthy eating tips for kids?

by Rachel Tayse

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