Healthy Summer Eating Is within Your Children’s Reach
June 5, 2018
Photo by Sara Hughes
Summer is an easy time for meal plans to get away from us with impromptu activities, adventures and sports. Having a meal plan is essential and summer is the perfect time to get your kids involved!
Once kiddos are old enough, generally over 5 years of age, you can allow each child to have a night they plan the meal, do the shopping, and make the meal. The more kids are involved in the process, the more likely they are to improve the variety of food they like.
Keep quick, easy meal options on hand for nights that don’t go as planned. We regularly stock pre-cooked frozen meat. Skinless, diced chicken can be quickly reheated and turned into quesadillas, added to stir-fry or placed atop a salad. Buy steamer bags of vegetables and rice for meals in less than 15 minutes.
Kids can help by making and freezing batches of egg muffins which is simply beaten eggs placed into a sprayed muffin tin with any add-ins you enjoy and baked for 15 minutes. They freeze well and reheat in 15 seconds in the microwave. You can also prep ahead smoothie packets. Include a healthy fat (chia seed, ground flax seed, avocado, peanut butter) and protein (Greek yogurt, milk) to help your youngster stay satisfied.
As a family, work toward making fueling foods just as quick and easy as fun foods. Try purchasing a weekly veggie tray or precut veggies and place at eye level in the fridge. Encourage eating with an assortment of dips such as hummus, bean dips, and yes, even veggie dip or ranch. Have on hand a variety of cheeses, Greek yogurt, nuts, hard boiled eggs, etc. Keep a fruit bowl stocked on the counter for easy, grab-and-go fruit.
Consider mixing fun and fueling foods together such as making apple nachos using apple slices, peanut butter and mini chocolate chips. Find creative Popsicle recipes using Greek yogurt and frozen fruit for a refreshing snack! To create a snack with staying power, aim for all snacks to use two to three food groups.
Find ways to include fun foods. Part of our job is helping kids learn how to find balance in eating decisions. Choose one to two fun foods per week with your kids. Consider making a fun food limit per day, but let them choose the food and when to have it. If they reach their limit and want more, reassure them by saying “X food is really yummy and how about we find a time soon to have that?” This reduces the likeliness of sneaking food.
Fill a pitcher with water and let your kids add fruits or veggies for a fun twist. Keep the pitcher in the fridge.
Watch for Boredom Grazing:
Kids are used to being occupied and may grab food when they are bored. Help kids differentiate between hunger and boredom and together create a list of activities (ideas which include inside, outside, big, small) that they would like to do over the summer.