It was July when I saw backpacks in the store. While I was thrilled to see that the summer items were being cleared out to make room for school supplies, there was no doubt in my mind that it was too early. “Wow, there’s less than a month to go!” I thought to myself. “This summer has gone by so fast…” Sunny days filled with fun & smiles have been enjoyed, and while there’s still a few more of those to go, it’s inevitable… one must start thinking about coming back to regularly scheduled programming.
There’s a lot of things that parents sort of let slide during the summer months. Bedtimes can be a little more flexible, schedules get thrown out the window and vegetable eating can be neglected. After all they’re on holidays, they should be able to have fun and just be kids, right?
Making healthy food fun is a big part of getting your youngsters to actually eat it. And if they don’t enjoy it, they’re not going to be very likely to want to eat it again. The most recent edition of the magazine Fresh Juice (by President’s Choice) featured some fantastic creations for kids lunchboxes: tomato roses, spiralized radish jellyfish & cucumber eyes. Just about any veggie+cookie cutter combination is a sure win with little ones too!
I think another key to getting kids interested in eating a few more servings of leafy greens is to get them involved. Let them help you make meals. The easiest way for anyone to learn anything is by doing, so have them wash the cucumbers, stir the soup or (with supervision) grate carrots for coleslaw.
Developing a healthy eating foundation now will give them a healthier chance at surviving their teenage years and into early adulthood. Parenting truly is the hardest job in the world (but you can do it!) but getting them to eat their veggies doesn’t have to be. Setting a good example by eating lots of veggies yourself is another easy action that benefits everyone.
Spending a little bit of time meal planning makes a world of difference as well. During the school year in our house, we sit down on Friday evenings & plan out what we might like to eat throughout the week. Any special events, crazy work schedules, expiring ingredients or particular meal requests are taken into consideration. On the 7 day white board in the kitchen stands the recipes for the week. Saturday morning grocery shopping for just the ingredients you need for the weeks meals saves time in we-need-one-more-ingredient-for-dinner runs to the store, and because you’re not buying random items (stick to the list!) the amount of food waste & science experiments in the back of the fridge saves you big dollars. Half an hour once a week makes a world of difference. Also, when you’ve got all of the ingredients in the fridge for the whole week it makes hitting up the drive through a lot harder. The food destined for tonight’s dinner plate would go to waste since every other day this week is already planned & paid for!