6 Ways To Help Serve Healthy Kids Lunches
Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables for Any Meal!
The battle between kids and vegetables is as old as time. While there is always that one kid everyone knows who just can’t get enough of the good stuff, most kids tend to stick their nose up to healthy greens. The struggle is real for most Canadian parents when it comes to creating a fully balanced kids’ lunch or dinner, but these 6 tips can help you get even the pickiest eaters to enjoy some more vegetables at meal time whether they know it or not!
6 ways to get your kids to eat more vegetables.
1. Make Food Fun!
This may sound obvious, but piling the plate up with steamed broccoli isn’t the most appealing presentation for a little one. Add a little excitement when possible. Turn your vegetables into kebabs with skewers! Kebabs are easy to assemble the day before or have the kids create their own from the choice of vegetables that you set out. Give them some variation by also giving them some cheese, meats and cut-up slices of Wonder® Bread to add for a well-rounded easy school lunch while at home.
Another way to have kids eat a bit more than they may have is to create a game where they win points for each carrot they finish or earn dessert if all the corn makes it off the plate before the end of the meal. While you don’t want to make every meal a competition it may help get younger kids over their initial humps and they begin to realize just how delicious some of these vegetable options can be.
Consider variations as well. Corn on the cob may fare better since it can be more fun than eating with a fork or spoon. Serving a cheese dipping sauce for broccoli may create more fun compared to serving it alone. Carrots may be yummier crunchy and raw rather than boiled. Little changes can make some bit of impact with your little eaters but you won’t know until you both try.
If you have the time, you can also use vegetables to help create some whim with your meals. This is really easy with pizzas or open-faced lunchtime sandwiches where you can cut down vegetables to create a picture of a face on the plate. Check out his great Festive Tuna Melt recipe for some inspiration or other easy school lunch ideas here.
Smoothies are an easy way of getting your children to eat (or should we say drink) their vegetables. Not only are they fun and colourful but in most cases, they won’t even taste all the great vegetables that you’ll be able to add-in.
Spending what feels like hours with the kids while trying to get them to finish a meal is even less of a likelihood with their short attention span or while you’re trying to get everything else done! Smoothies can be prepped the night before, leaving blending and serving for the day after. They are also an easy and mess-free way to fill the kids up with healthier choices while they’re on a walk or enjoying some much-needed playtime outdoors.
Try this easy smoothie recipe
½ cup of orange juice
½ cup of vanilla yogurt
¼ cup Steamed carrots
2-3 spinach leaves
¼ cup of strawberries (or blueberries)
Simply add all the ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve in a cup with a reusable straw, serve in a bowl topped with granola or yes, even sprinkles if they create the excitement you need.
3. Sauce it Up
When it comes to meals that include a sauce, including a range of vegetables becomes even more stress-free! If your kids won’t touch pasta with carrots, celery, spinach or yes, even garlic chunks you’re not alone! But what if you were to combine all of those (yes all!) with your store bought pasta sauce and blend away? Your end result is a delicious, hearty and vitamin-rich sauce that they won’t think twice about.
Other meals like chili or mild curries are other ways to create a ton of flavour while ensuring the kids are getting their share of essential vegetables. Also, consider a vegetable enriched cheese sauce for your next macaroni and cheese!
4. Keep the Introductions Going
Serving vegetables with every meal is one way to build consistency and eventually get the kids to start trying new things. Depending on your parenting style you may end up making them finish what’s on their plate before leaving the table, or have them try 2 bites today, and try to increase that for the next meal. Whatever your strategy is, the key is to remember to always serve something.
A fun way to create this habit is by providing vegetables like carrots or cucumbers that are easy to eat with their hands and can be dipped in their favourite sauces or dressings. Cutting up some vegetables on Sunday night can help manage your time during the week, making simple lunchtime meals even easier to prepare.
Try one of our Lunchtime Win sandwiches for more inspiration for kids lunch ideas.
5. Soup For Everyone
A great way to get kids to enjoy a range of vegetables is by modifying their favourite soups or creating new ones that they can enjoy. If your kids are open to more texture in their soups, chopping up mushrooms, carrots, celery or even broccoli into small pieces can make for an easy add-in to their favourite chicken noodle soup. If they aren’t into chunkier foods, however, then consider thicker pureed soups that you can buy or make at home. Some easy to make ahead soups include butternut squash soup, broccoli and cheddar, corn or carrot soups. Freeze them and thaw the day you’re planning to serve them alongside your kid’s favourite lunch time sandwich.
Check out some easy and quick lunch sandwiches recipes for kids
6. Enjoy the Journey together
At the end of the day, vegetables are new foods to kids and aren’t as exciting as candy or cupcakes. That’s why it’s important to ask them to include a sensory component to vegetables. Have them explain to you how it looks, what it smells like, what it feels like when they touch it and when they chew it. You can share your experience with them, and they may replicate what you told them making it a more positive experience.
Remember to keep on trying and not to be discouraged the next time your kid tries to slip their vegetables to the dog or throws them across the table. Eventually, you’re sure to find a few vegetables that do the job. The good news is that palates continue to change and one day they may surprise you with their healthy requests!