Making sure our kids eat healthy food has, rightly so, become a national obsession and I am sure, like most parents, you want healthy lunch ideas to help your kids be motivated, full of energy and reaching their true potential.
There are some really outstanding reasons for making sure our kids eat healthy and here are two of the most important.
1. Studies have shown that kids that eat a healthy lunch are more motivated at school and basically do better. This is what we all want for our kids and it is great that we have the power as parents to easily make this happen!
2. Childhood obesity is a growing problem in North America – 5 million youths aged 6-17 are clinically obese. By introducing your kids to healthy eating early on, you are gifting them with a life full of health!
Of course there are many other reasons which I won’t list. I assume if you are reading this you are already convinced of the value of providing healthy food and snacks for your family!
So what are some tips for helping you provide healthy meal options for your children?
1. Well first of keep healthy snacks lying around the house. Kids are natural grazers and if they do not have healthy snacks available they will sneak in unhealthy options. In fact, I would suggest that you have a cupboard cleanse and try to remove any unhealthy snacks, so the kids can’t see them and you are not tempted to “give in” at a stressed moment.
*Some great healthy snack tips are:
– Humus and vegetable sticks
– Salsa and re-fried beans mixed together to create a great snack or a dip for toasted pita triangles
– Toasted pita triangles and low fat ranch dressing
– Sweet and crispy vegetable slices like carrot and red pepper
All of these are quick, easy to make and keep in the fridge ready for when you need them.
2. Another key healthy eating idea is making food that is easy for your kids to eat AND easy for you to make. You are very likely a busy person, so don’t overstretch yourself, there are many great quick, easy options available.
* Easy Tip: Wraps are easy and kids love them. Try adding a few new ingredients this way. My favorites are baked tofu, peanut butter and snow peas wrap and turkey breast, mozzarella, cucumber, avocado and alfalfa sprouts wrap. Both mix ingredients kids will have tried before and new ones. Try swapping peanut butter for cashew or almond butter for variety.
3. Try and prepare as much in advance as you can. It is unlikely that you are able to come home from work and put 100% effort into your kids meals or prepare masses of food first thing in the morning. So, pick a time when you can give it your full attention and prepare a few days in advance. Some things like sauces and dips will keep for a while, so work out when is a good time for you to get your cooking mojo on! When you can cook, is also a great indication of what type of lunches to make. If you really only have free time on the weekends for anything complicated, choose things that will keep and need very little extra preparation first thing in the morning.
* Top Tip: Many meals are freezable, which is a good tip for after school meals. Cooking a large casserole, soup or stew and distributing into bags for the following week is always a great idea. For school lunches, try getting your ingredients ready a few days before. Cooked chicken and turkey breast will keep for 3-4 days. Also you can make any dips like ranch dressing 3-4 days in advance. Tuna mayo will also keep, but I suggest that you keep it well sealed as it can make your refrigerator smell!
4. Try to keep your child involved in the healthy eating process whenever possible. If your child hates sweet things (unlikely but sometimes it happens!) do not force them, look at savory lunches instead and vice versa. You want to introduce your kids to new types of food and food experiences and this can be an enjoyable process for everyone. Picking things they really can’t stand will be like hitting a brick wall every meal time.
5. A good tip to get kids started with new food experiences is to use portion control. Mix a small amount of the new food together with something you know they like and slowly introduce a variety of food this way. Just remember it is OK for your little one to not like everything, I know I don’t and I am sure you are the same! For example, if try adding avocado and celery to a tuna mayo salad.