By Contributing Author: Sharon A. See
It’s back to school time again even though the temperatures feel more like mid-July.
For many families, this means a return to schedules and routines. Research shows children perform much better at school and in other activities when they have regular routines around sleep, meals, study and play time.
Routines and schedules are also very helpful for parents. Having regular routines and schedules can help to reduce the stress that comes with keeping a busy family healthy and happy. And one of the most important ways to keep a family healthy and happy is to have good routines and habits around healthy food and meal times.
Getting kids to eat well is a challenge. Heck, eating well as an adult can be a challenge too! It’s really easy to fall back on convenience and packaged foods when we’re pressed for time and being pulled in lots of different directions.
This week I’m giving you three simple ways you can help your children eat healthier foods. As you will see, it begins with you. Kids do as we do, not as we say. So these tips will help you eat healthier while involving kids in the planning and preparing of meals. And as an added bonus, these are great opportunities for family bonding.
And, at the end, I’ve included a link to a recent back to school segment featured on a local TV station. I love the healthy snack suggestions and recipe for Green Monster Muffins. These muffins are a tasty and fun way to sneak some fresh fruits and veggies into the lunchbox or snack bag. Of course, you can find the vegetables for this recipe at the Monroe Farmers Market.
Involve Them in the Process
Kids will naturally be more engaged and interested in a meal if they’ve helped to plan and prepare it. Bring them into the process right at the beginning when planning the meal. Give them some input on what you’ll be making and involve them in the shopping right through to the prepping and cooking of the meal.
Studies have shown that when younger children are introduced to planning, preparing and cooking healthy foods they make healthier food choices when they are older. You’re also helping them to learn valuable life skills like planning for, shopping for and cooking their own meals.
Show Them Some Variety
Most kids have a few go-to favorite foods that they like to eat over and over again. As parents, it’s easy to fall into the rut with them. Before you know it, the entire family has a very small repertoire of foods and meals that they eat over and over again.
Make a commitment to mixing it up a bit. Create one new healthy meal from scratch each week. Be sure to involve the kids in the planning. Build the meal around a lean protein (like chicken, fish, and turkey), a fresh vegetable, and a healthy starch (like brown rice or baked or broiled potatoes). Pick a new vegetables to try each week. And, remember to cook extra for leftovers. Leftovers make a great lunch or quick meal.
After six months you will have tried 26 new meals. Not everyone will be a hit, but chances are you will have found at least half that are keepers. And you’ve introduced your family to lots of healthy new foods.
Plan and Prep Ahead of Time
It’s really hard to have a healthy home cooked meal for your family every night of the work week if you don’t plan and prepare ahead of time. Schedules are full and everyone has something going on. As with anything else in life that’s important to you, you have to plan ahead to make it happen. Here’s an article I wrote last season that gives you really great tips for advanced meal planning and preparation.
And here’s the link to that recipe that I promised you. One of the reasons I like this recipe for Green Monster Muffins is that you can make them in advance and freeze them. Put a frozen one in the lunch box before school and it’s thawed and ready to eat by snack time. Enjoy!
About Sharon A. See
I hope you are enjoying my articles. If you’d like some customized strategies and support with healthy eating for you and your family, please reach out to me. I’m happy to help!
If you have farmer’s market or healthy eating questions you’d like answered or topics you’d like to hear more about, please let me know. See below to contact me.
Sharon A. See
Certified Holistic Health Coach
You can contact me and find other interesting articles, resources, and recipes on my website at www.vitalizedwellness.com.
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The Monroe Farmers' Market is open June–October and offers fresh, locally-grown produce, baked goods, prepared foods and hand-crafted specialty foods to Connecticut locals.