“Healthy.” As a mom that word is constantly floating around in my head when I think about what my kids eat. Meals are healthy in my household now, but there was a time when I was at a loss. In a world where most people would rather eat junk, how could I make sure my kids were getting a healthy meal? And when they got older, how would they know that eating sweets three times a day would give them cavities, and me a coronary? I was out of ideas, and in need of help. I needed someone to send out an SOS and bring me a glass of adult grape juice!
After taking a deep breath, I put on my mom-thinking cap. I had missed this in Parenting School, but there had to be a solution. It couldn’t be that hard to come up with healthy dinner ideas for my kids, and a plan to educate them about healthy eating habits. For my sanity, and for the sanity of parents everywhere, I had to come up with something brilliant. I’m not sure if “brilliant” is the word, but I came up with a few ideas that work; I know they changed things in my house! Now, I’m going to share them with you, so you can use them to help your family.
Helping Them Be Healthy All Life Long!
Why start here? Because shaping how our children relate to food first, makes creating and executing those healthy dinner ideas much easier. It starts with having the right philosophy!
Discussing Food Philosophy: What is food? The best way to answer this question here, is that “Food is Fuel”. Food is what we put into our bodies to make them strong, and to make them go! We need food to live, just like a car needs gas to go. But if we put the wrong fuel in the tank, or too much, the car starts to break down. Teaching your child that food is fuel, and that their body is worth taking care of, will get your child excited about the idea of healthy eating.
Giving Kids Power: In a world filled with young people battling eating disorders, it’s important to give our children power over food! People believe that food has a mind of its own, and power over us. But we’re the chefs! We control what food we eat and how much! Helping your kids embrace this power over food will help them feel capable of making healthy eating choices all on their own, and avoid body negativity and disordered eating.
Including Them in the Process: Take your kids shopping with you so they can know what they’re putting in their bodies! Don’t be afraid to turn nutrition labels into story time. Have your kids read them with you, introducing them to characters like “Serving Size” and “Calorie Content.” Help them be informed about the choices they make. Including them in making the weeks “menu” helps your children feel they have a voice when it comes to meal time. If they help plan the menu, and know what’s for dinner ahead of time, they have time to prepare for having carrots on Tuesday.
Making “Healthy” Fun: Being healthy is not always an easy thing to do. But “not easy” doesn’t have to mean not enjoyable. Getting your kids excited about exercise and healthy eating starts with you! So get as creative as you can about including things your child loves into your healthy lifestyle choices!
Coming Up with Healthy Dinner Ideas for the Kids!
Here are some things to remember about coming up with healthy dinner ideas, as well as some of my favorite kid friendly recipes.
“Cooking Healthy” Doesn’t Take Much: Healthy food doesn’t have to be difficult to make. The nice thing about food is that the less you do to it the healthier it is. Healthy starts with using fresh ingredients that are packed with nutrients; mainly veggies and lean meats. Once you have the basic ingredients, it’s all in the preparation. Grill that chicken, steam those veggies! Don’t be afraid to use spices to season your ingredients. I hear your kids screaming that broccoli is gross. Mine did too. But sometimes, simple can be the solution; a little shredded cheese, or minced garlic. Or pretending to be giraffes. You’ll find that healthy recipes like these Itsy Bitsy Pizza Bagels, Buttermilk Chicken Nuggets, or Mac and Cheese Cups don’t take all that much!
It Starts at The Store: Basically, what you buy in the store, is what will be available in your home for eating. If you buy healthy ingredients and snacks, you and your child will always have what you need to make healthy choices. They say that the trick to this is shopping the perimeter of the store. That’s where most of the healthy food is! But don’t be afraid to enter the aisles, just be ready to read your nutrition labels. Little tricks like this, and others found here really help!
You’re the Head Chef: In conclusion, it’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, you’re the head chef at home! The food you make is what will be eaten. You have the power to make changes in your home, and to serve up healthy dinner ideas like Baked Sweet Potato Fries, BLT Wraps, veggie packed Sloppy Joes, and our Southwestern Chili! Your kids will be better for it.
Implementing these ideas in my home has made a huge difference, and I hope you have the same results! Anyone else have kid-friendly healthy dinner ideas? I’d love to hear them.