Are you frustrated with having to deal with your child's picky eating habits? Don't worry; we got your back. Read along this article to find some tips and quick recipes to make your everyday mealtime exciting and full of fun.
As parents, feeding your kids a balanced and nutritious diet can often become a challenging and super frustrating task. Children tend to eat what attracts them the most. Unfortunately, the most attractive foods are not the healthiest options. Your mission is to make healthy food options attractive enough for your children to want to eat. Multiple recipes are easy to follow and suit the likings of young children. But before we move on to sharing these recipes, let's first look at the facts you need to keep in mind regarding the nutrients you need to include in their diet to ensure their proper growth.
Young children, in their growing years, require a variety of nutrients to grow well. These nutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, calcium, and iron. You can find these nutrient in vegetables such as carrots, spinach, potatoes, corn, and food items that include lentils, whole grain, dairy products, and different types of meat.
Tips for planning a healthier menu for your child:
- When planning meals for young children, we need to focus on their overall diet requirements and choose recipes that include various vegetables, fruits, and grains. This does not mean that you need to worry about trying to pack all nutrients in one meal; that might not be possible ever.
- When you sit down to plan the menu for the entire week, you can start by making a checklist of ingredients or food items that you want your child to eat. On a separate sheet of paper, you can note down the names of dishes that include your desired ingredients. For example, if you want your child to eat chicken, eggs, lentils, spinach, potatoes, and fish - all in a week- a simple solution is to think of the dishes that you can make with these items. For example, you can make baked fish served with potato wedges as lunch. Now you can check off fish and potatoes on your checklist. For dinner, you can plan chicken steak with creamed spinach, checking off two more items from your list.
- Snacks can include fruits like an apple with peanut butter or celery with peanut butter. Other snack options include nuts, boiled eggs, granola bars, pop-corns, and crackers with cheese.
- You can also make a list of nutrients instead of ingredients. This way, you can keep a check on nutrients that you want to include in your child’s diet.
- Another trick to make mealtime fun is to engage your children in meal prep and grocery shopping. This makes the children more enthusiastic to eat the meals they make.
- Children can also be engaged when preparing the weekly or monthly menu. This way, children enjoy being given a choice in deciding what they will be eating.
- You should treat processed foods and junk as cheat meals and should only offer the occasionally or not at all. This way, the children understand that packaged foods are rare commodities that are not always readily available.
- You need to observe your child’s favorite foods. You can then introduce new food items by pairing them with what they already like. For example, if your child is a fan of ketchup or any other kind of sauce, you can always pair up vegetables with that sauce and make the veggies more attractive for your child. Be warned though, ketchup and dressings are full of sugars and other unwanted ingredients. So use them sparingly.
- Cutting vegetables and foods in fun shapes like stars, hearts, or a smiley is also an effective way to make food attractive.
- Giving funky names to dishes can also be an effective strategy to make food fun.
- Most importantly, you become a role model for your kids by portraying healthy eating habits because children follow what we do rather than what we ask them to do.
Healthy breakfast options include pancakes, cereals, yogurt with muesli, grilled cheese sandwiches, oatmeal, bagels with peanut butter, PB&J sandwiches, or french toasts.
Here is a simple recipe to make pancakes fun:
For the pancake batter, you will need:
1 cup flour
Two tablespoons sugar
One teaspoon baking powder
One-fourth teaspoon salt
Two tablespoons cooking oil or butter (melted)
1 cup milk
One beaten egg
Beat all of the above ingredients to make the pancake mix. Once all ingredients are combined well, heat a pan and lightly grease the pan with cooking oil or butter, as per your preference (butter is a healthier option, though). To make one pancake, add ¼ cup of batter into the pan and spread it with the help of a spoon or spatula. Heat both sides of the pancake until lightly golden.
Now that your pancake is ready, it's time to get creative. You can use chocolate sauce or maple syrup to make fun; smiley faces on the pancakes. Your kids can join in and customize their pancakes themselves.
Lunchtime can be fun with fun foods such as spaghetti, sandwiches, pot pies, and muffins. If your kid is not a huge fan of veggies, you can work your way around by disguising them in foods such as muffins and pies. Here is a fun muffin recipe with secret veggie goodness inside:
For these chocolate muffins, you will need Peanut butter, Eggs, Spinach or kale, Squash, Honey or sugar, Ripped bananas, Cocoa powder, Baking powder, and Vanilla extract.
Blend all of the above ingredients in a blender, and then scoop out the mixture into a cupcake pan lined with cupcake liners.
Pop the cupcakes in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350°F.
Pasta with white sauce and sorted veggies + chicken is a quick and healthy option for dinner. Thinking of a fun name for the dish, for example, doodly noodles can make dinner more interesting for your kids.
You can make a white sauce by sautéing two tablespoons of flour in two tablespoons of butter. Then add 2 cups of milk and seasoning as per your taste. Once the sauce is ready, add some boiled pasta, sauteed chicken, and veggies to your pasta and Tadaa!. Bon appetite!
We know that homemade is always the healthier option. Use your imagination and make homemade food fun.