Parenting is an undeniably exhausting job. You guide your children nearly every step of the way, from getting dressed and shuttling them off to school to preparing meals and tucking them in at bedtime. With the hustle and bustle of the day, it’s easy to rely on quick bites like fruit snacks, sugar-sweetened cereals, and fast food to curb your children’s cravings. While these snacks have their place, foods high in saturated fat or sugar can lead to an unintended dependence on unhealthy foods.
Instead, providing meals and snacks that offer a balance of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and protein can benefit your child’s lifelong health. Introducing them to a wide variety of foods at a young age allows your child to maintain a healthy relationship with food and the confidence to try new flavors and textures. If your current routine has you running ragged and in need of a few wholesome eating pointers, check out the ideas below.
Healthy cooking methods
Cooking healthy meals can feel daunting and time-consuming if you’re unsure where to begin. Don’t let elaborate recipes with unusual ingredients scare you off. There are handfuls of ways to cook flavorful, delicious meals in a minimal amount of time.
For example, grilling is incredibly advantageous for busy parents wanting to cook healthier meals. Vegetables and lean meats are thoroughly cooked in a matter of minutes and end up infused with that distinct smoky grilled flavor. Additionally, excess fat drips off through the grate while cooking, unlike slow cooking and pan-frying methods. Best of all, you can cook in bulk, prepping for days at a time.
Be sure to invest in quality grilling equipment from retailers like Grill Tanks Plus (www.grilltanksplus.com) for equipment that will last you many grilling seasons. Rub some seasoning on your food before tossing it on the grill, and you’ll have a flavorful and healthy dish that will have even the pickiest eater begging for more.
Eat the rainbow
A simple guideline to follow when putting together a meal is including colorful foods. Besides turning your plate into an artist’s palette, a swathe of bright food also provides an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Take a look at what you typically offer your children during mealtime and see what colors you’re lacking. Luckily, fruits and vegetables come in all kinds of vibrant colors and make easy additions. Keep in mind that including every color isn’t always feasible. Blues, in particular, but that doesn’t mean you can’t strive for a full rainbowed plate.
Shop as a family
Next time you decide to grocery shop, allow your little ones to come along and participate in the decision-making process. Begin by offering them choices between a few different items, eventually allowing them to pick out a fruit and vegetable they’d like to try or include in a meal. Having autonomy and power in prepared food encourages them to eat it, which is especially important for picky eaters.
Buy in bulk
There’s a reason bulk stores like Costco and Sam’s club are wildly popular with families. Purchasing food in bulk typically costs less per ounce and allows you to continually have options on hand when preparing meals and snacks. Additionally, building up a stash means fewer trips to the store, saving you much-needed time. Bulk options are best for non-perishable foods, like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and frozen items.
Preparation takes time up front but ends up saving time and stress in the long run. Plan out meals for your young ones at the start of the week to sidestep scrambling mid-week. You can meal prep in advance, allowing your little ones to grab-and-go without day-to-day preparation. Plus, when you cook in bulk, leftovers are a viable option for fast-paced days.
The bottom line
Although enticing your children to eat a healthy, balanced diet can feel like pulling teeth, offering fun, wholesome meals can entice them to indulge in nutritious meals without pushback. Mix up colors, prepare ahead of time, and experiment with spices to keep them interested in balanced meals.