Getting kids to eat takes creativity, patience and, sometimes, a bit of luck. 52 Moms Talk Food is my exploration of how inspiring moms make it happen.
Jane is a working mom of two (son 12, daughter 10) in Northfield, MN. Her husband recently left his job to become a stay-at-home dad, so he does a lot of grocery shopping and cooking. (Yes, lucky Jane!) While their son has always been a solid eater, their daughter had some food jags along the way. I spoke with Jane to find out how she and her husband handle family meals and how she finds balance in her busy life.
Q: How do you encourage middle school-aged kids—kids who can grab their own food—to make healthy choices?
Jane: Grab-and-go. We keep a lot of Tupperware with cut-up veggies, fruit and cheese slices in the fridge. The kids can grab out foods that are healthy but feel snack-y. We also use a lot of those items for lunch, so having already-prepared “healthy” items makes it easier to throw lunches together.
Q: As a working mom of two, how do you find balance?
Jane: Mindful eating, not beating myself up when I don’t make a healthy choice and dark chocolate as a treat.
Here are some of Jane’s favorite tips for getting her kids to eat well.
- “Snack suppers.” A couple of times a week, Jane and her husband pull out the Tupperware of ready-to-eat veggies, fruit and cheese, along with other “snack” foods like hummus or popcorn. The kids eat a variety and love that they get to choose the foods they want to eat.
- Dust off the crockpot. Crockpot dinners are easy to make, and you can sneak in extra veggies and beans.
- Up the appeal-factor of veggies and fruit. Jane’s husband seasons vegetables with sautéed garlic and butter or Italian seasoning and Parmesan and adds a dash of cinnamon to fruit.
MY TAKE-AWAY: Jane and her husband employ some great healthy eating tactics. First, they make nutritious foods—like vegetables and fruit—easy for their kids to reach and eat. Plus, colorful foods in see-through containers are more visually appealing… to kids and adults. I think the weekly “snack suppers” idea is such a fun one. It’s a great way to make dinner prep easy on the parents, clean out the fridge and empower kids to make healthful choices. The key is to only offer up nutritious choices you’ll be happy about them choosing (like Jane and her husband do), and let kids choose what and how much they’ll eat.