Fitness & Diet Food & Nutrition

Kids Healthy Meals

Written by Mike

Instructions to Start Making Healthy Choices

I heard a preschooler state he abhorred vegetables and could never eat them and in the meantime request more broccoli. He didn’t have the foggiest idea what a vegetable was nevertheless he was certain they were yucky, despite the fact that his preferred nourishment was broccoli.

Youngsters gain from what they see and get notification from everyone around them. On the off chance that they hear others expressing they hate solid sustenances or that vegetables are disgusting, they will expect this is valid. It is essential to train your youngsters from the time they are very youthful about an assortment of foods grown from the ground. We require a larger number of supplements than we can get from bundled prepared sustenances that have had the nourishment evacuated during handling.

Restricting decisions that are accessible yet not prohibiting any nourishments is the most ideal approach to guarantee your tyke will settle on solid sustenance decisions. Your youngster is going to need to settle on decisions so as opposed to attempting to cause treat to rival broccoli you need constrained decisions and have your tyke look over them. For instance, serve 2 or 3 vegetables with supper rather than just one. It enables children to settle on their own decision. Each parent realizes children like to settle on their own decisions!

Thoughts and Tips for Kids Healthy Meals

In the event that your family is experiencing issues settling on sound nourishment decisions, at that point it is critical to remember that it takes roughly three weeks to make another propensity. Begin taking a gander at ways that you can bring an end to these propensities today and actualize them at the earliest opportunity.

When your family is in the propensity for settling on great sustenance decisions and eating well suppers you will find that as opposed to agonizing over their nourishment decisions, you will realize that they are settling on sound decisions at home just as when they are away.

Critical Eater Tips

Is it true that you are a parent of a tyke who doesn’t prefer to eat? These tips for meticulous eaters is for you at that point. Demanding eaters can make life intriguing particularly when it comes time to get ready suppers. All youngsters experience a period of being exacting eaters somewhat while they are learning and developing; the kids proceed with this stage and stay fussy long haul who can have dietary issues including nutrient insufficiency.

As a parent you need to ensure your youngster is getting enough of the basic supplements to stay sound. When you have a fussy eater you need to discover methods for getting those supplements in your tyke. Here are a few hints for critical eaters and proposals to help you through this.

Remember that a little child or preschooler won’t eat as much as a youngster or a grown-up. In the event that you serve a huge plate of sustenance to a little child or a preschooler, they will doubtlessly eat what they like most and get full at that point quit eating. On the off chance that you need your tyke to get a balanced supper with nourishments from every one of the gatherings inside the sustenance pyramid, you have to offer a little part of nourishment from each gathering to your tyke. Rather than enabling the youngster to eat the majority of the organic product (or whatever their preferred bit is) and avoid the remainder of the feast, giving a tad from each gathering causes your tyke to eat a progressively adjusted supper. I have one kid like this who might top off on the natural product serving of mixed greens and avoid the remainder of the feast!

Showing an example of proper eating habits is important. Instead of commenting on foods being bad or good, you need to show children good eating habits by example.

If your child won’t try certain foods, try them in different forms. See if you can hide it in another dish. Often soups and stews are a great place to sneak in vegetables and even meats. If your child is picky about eating vegetables, you can grate them and add them to meatloaf or you can make a sauce and pour them over pasta.

My favorite tips for picky eaters is to let your kids help you cook. Pizza is a favorite of several children. Letting them make their own pizzas with healthy toppings is another way of getting these nutritious foods into your children.

Choosing a new food item to try weekly is an excellent way to widen the number of foods that your child will eat. Make it a family outing to the grocery store, produce stand or farmer’s market and let your children pick something new to try this week. Your children will learn to try new foods and you might find a new favorite along the way.

If your child is a picky eater, it is important to allow your child a choice of healthy foods to eat daily. Don’t force any or insist on your child eating everything that is served. If your child is eating from one food group only, then cut back on choices from that group while increasing the foods you are allowing from other food groups.

Cut back on choices that are from non-nutritive sources. Watch out for empty calories from foods such as diet soda, French fries, chips, fast food, even juice, they can fill up on these and not want the “good stuff.”

Involve kids in menu planning as well as helping prepare the meal. If they want chicken nuggets every night, help them see we need variety in our menu. When serving the all time family favorites, try some new things along the side, such as a salad or new vegetable.

Make it fun. Shape it, cut it out with a cookie cutter, or make shapes out of your meals. The simple arranging of your dinner plate holds great kid appeal. See our page on making food fun further in the book.

A tip for picky eaters parents is to try not to add too much pressure into eating healthy. If your child is getting their recommended calories and eating nutritious foods, even if they are the same foods everyday, then they probably are eating okay. Continue to offer healthy and nutritious foods and as they grow they’re likely to come around.

Ideas for Making Fun Kids Food

Make mini versions of dinner. If you are making meatloaf, for example, make mini loaves or shape your meatloaf into fun creations. I have several mini pans shaped like stars, hearts and trees. These work great for meatloaf but you don’t have to have mini pans to create fun shapes. Meatloaf will shape well and then can be placed on a tin foil lined cookie sheet for the easiest cleanup. Meatloaf is also a great recipe to include pureed or finely chopped vegetables. Other mini versions could be mini meatballs, small taco shells or mini pies.

Unleash the creativity in your kids by letting them create their dinner into a Picasso design or animal. Use vegetables, shredded cheese, chopped nuts, cornflakes or whatever you have that goes with your dinner.

Many times I arrange the food into a funny face giving mashed potato hair, meatball eyeballs and green beans for a mouth. Kids love the surprise and they enjoy being able to eat the face a little at a time.

Create baked potatoes to look like animals by using vegetables and shredded cheese.

Make chicken or beef kabobs into caterpillars. Use a tomato or mushroom for the head.

Make homemade pizzas and let kids decorate faces with the toppings or make artful creations. Or cut cheese slices out with mini cookie cutters and place on pizza.

Stock up on fun cookie cutters. Cut whatever you can into fun shapes. Kids love this and it is so simple it is worth implementing in your meals.

Do theme dinners or international dinner nights.

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Making Food Appealing

A variety of colors gets kids attention so make sure you have a colorful food plate. Choosing foods that look good together is a big part of making food appealing. It may be something many people don’t think about but if you make the plate of food look appetizing kids will be more interested in eating it.

This goes for yummy food on the plate as well as colorful and exciting food. Serve a balance of different colored foods to your family. Seeing one color on the plate isn’t going to get anyone to eat their dinner.

What does color have to do with fun kids food?

Not only is color more exciting, colors in vegetables and fruits is what gives us multivitamins, minerals and fiber our body needs so much. You should get at least 5 or more servings every day, so include many different colors of fruits and vegetables in your meals.

See more ideas on making food fun:

Kids Portion Sizes

A healthy portion size is simply how much food you should be consuming. It is important to remember a kids portion size, an adult portion and a teenagers portion is going to be completely different. When serving your family try to keep this in mind. This page is to help you understand the “right” portion size for your kids and how much calories your kids should be getting each day.

Portions should equal the size of the palm of the hand. A child’s portion should equal the size of their palm not your palm! Your palm and your child’s hand is very different so keep that in mind when serving dinner. Today we have so many supersized and jumbo packages of products it is hard to remember how much we really should be eating.

My daughter could easily eat 2 cups of cooked pasta noodles sprinkled with Parmesan cheese for lunch or dinner. She loves it.  However, I soon realized she was actually eating 4 times a kids healthy portion size. She is a pretty active kid and I’m certainly not worried about her but perhaps this was something I needed to become more aware of myself.

Examples of healthy portion sizes for kids

Meat  2oz. (size of palm)

Peanut butter 1-2 tablespoons

Milk or juice 8 ounces

Egg 1

Yogurt small cups equal to 4-8 oz.

Cheese 1-2 slices or 1/4 cup cubed cheese

Fruit 1/2 cup cut up fruit

Bread 1 slice

Pasta or rice 1/2 Cup cooked

Vegetables 1/2 Cup cooked or raw

Tips for Kids Portion Sizes

When buying processed bagged products, serving size is located on the food label. A small single portion of something may really be a supersized portion.

Serve snacks in a small snack size cup for help in knowing exactly how much you are giving out at snack time.

Serve your kids meals with a small amount, maybe a few bites, to get them started and if they are still hungry they can have more.

Kids and Calories

Counting calories for kids is really not important according to many nutritionists. Kids can be so active through the day that it is easy to burn 2,000 calories. However a child that is not as active through the day may only burn 1,500 calories.

All together kids are better than us adults at being active and burning calories throughout the day. It is common for kids to run around, go up and down stairs, ride bikes, play with toys all while adults sit and read a magazine, fold laundry or talk on the phone.

The most important thing to remember about kids calories is to avoid empty calories. Empty calories could be candy bars, diet sodas, French fries, fast food, chips, etc. Kids are taking the calories in but it is providing no nutritional value to their bodies, hence the name empty calories. Replace these items or products with fruits, vegetables, cheese, yogurt or other healthy alternatives.

Average recommendations for kids calories

2-3 years old 1000-1400 calories/day

4-8 years old  1400-1600 calories/ day

girls 9-13 years old 1600-2000 calories/ day

boys 9-13 years old 1800-2200 calories/day

girls 14-18 years old 2000 calories/day

boys 14-18 years old 2200 calories +/day

Healthy Eating Tips

Why the need for healthy eating tips for kids? Most people, children included, do not eat as healthy of a diet as they should. With obesity and type II diabetes on the rise it is important that we break this cycle and help our kids to make healthy food choices. Our children need a wide variety of foods to grow properly both physically and mentally. These healthy meal ideas and healthy eating tips for kids can help you turn around the eating habits in your house.

Start by limiting the amount of unhealthy or junk foods that you allow to enter your house. If your kids do not have the constant exposure to foods with little to no dietary value, then they won’t crave them. It may take you a month, or perhaps a year, but if you and your kids continue to follow the healthy eating tips you will find your children prefer to eat healthy foods over junk foods.

When serving your kids from the time they are toddlers you should always serve a little bit of everything from the basic food groups. Most toddlers, when given balanced meals, will pick and choose each day but by the end of the week will have eaten a wide variety of foods with something from each category in the food pyramid.

Find creative ways to add foods to your child’s diet especially if your child has been limiting foods from one food group. Children who are not fond of eating their vegetables will quite often eat raw vegetables dipped in dressing or sprinkled with cheese.

Another way to increase the number of vegetables your child eats is to make casseroles, soups and stews. Add pureed vegetables in your cooking for added nutrition.

A fun healthy eating idea is to get them to do the cooking. Oftentimes doing something as simple as allowing kids to cook with you will help to improve their healthy eating habits. When they have a hands on experience creating, mixing and preparing food they often enjoy eating it more. If your kids are old enough, teach them to make something they can prepare for themselves when they are hungry. (fruit salad, scrambled egg, boiled egg, grilled cheese)

Offer a variety of not only foods, but also offer a variety of food groups and a variety of textures, flavors, colors. The wider the variety of foods that you give your child to choose from the more vitamin content you will be giving your child.

Instead of having a sugary dessert after each meal, make dessert count. For dessert you can have things such as fresh fruit and yogurt, a fruit smoothie or fresh fruit topped with a small amount of whipped cream. Don’t eat sugary desserts everyday, but save them for special occasions or one day a week.

Have a list of snacks that kids can have after school. Post this on the fridge or somewhere for the whole family to see.

Make healthy substitutions. Replace fruit for sugary products such as adding fresh or frozen, thawed berries to your pancakes instead of syrup.

Eat snacks and meals at regular scheduled times each day.

Cut out sugar drinks and soda and replace them with water or milk. Even juice should be limited to 100% juice and no more than 8 oz. a day.

Eat together as a family. This does wonders for kids healthy eating habits and their self esteem.

Lead by example. If you want to serve kids healthy meals, practice healthy eating in front of your children. It can help to instill values when it comes to foods and food choices. Your children learn from what you do in front of them. If you are eating your vegetables, your child will most likely learn to eat vegetables.

If your family routinely has cheese, whole grains, lean meats, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits on a regular basis, then these are going to be the foods your child reaches for to satisfy their appetites. 

There are many ways of increasing the nutrition in your kid’s meals. Some quick healthy eating tips is to cut back on pre-packaged foods as much as possible, eating as many fresh foods and whole grains as possible and making snacks count nutrition wise. All of these ideas are important for your children’s health as well as your own health.

Kids Healthy Snacks and Ideas

Kids snacks don’t have to be boring. Providing a variety of options kids can choose from is a great start. Regardless of how old your kids are, they are going to eat and need 2-3 snacks a day so make them healthy choices.

Keeping a snack list on the fridge or having a special spot in the kitchen for kids healthy snacks is another step to healthier eating. By doing this it will be easier for kids to grab something when they want or need it. Purge your kitchen of the unhealthy snacks such as chips, cookies or soda so these poor choices won’t even be a temptation.

The best snacking tips for kids are those that include recipes for healthy snacks but also suggest ways in which to encourage kids to eat these healthy snacks. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know which snack a kid will grab after school if he opens the cupboard and finds an apple and a bag of sour cream and onion flavored potato chips. However, kids can be easily fooled when they are craving a snack and recipes are plentiful which artfully hide healthy things in foods that don’t appear healthy on the outside.

Some kids healthy snacks and ideas include:

•  baking muffins, cookies and cakes using applesauce in place of fat-laden ingredients (butter, oil)

•  use oats, nuts, whole wheat flour and dried fruit in bread desserts (they’ll never know)

•  substitute low fat frozen yogurt or skim-milk pudding for ice cream bars

•  Cut angel food cake into cubes to be dipped into fruity yogurt

•  Make your own trail mix snack using 1/4 cup of whole-grain cereal; 1/4 cup of raisin; two tablespoons of sunflower seeds and two tablespoon of chopped almonds

•  Use milk to make instant oatmeal, stir in one teaspoon cocoa powder, top with strawberries or raspberries

•  Mini-pizzas made from one tube of refrigerator biscuits, canned pizza sauce and shredded cheese

•  Peanut butter and jelly mini-sandwiches on multigrain waffles, cut into fours

Inventing successful snacking for kids can involve a little psychology as well. For smaller children who tend to be pickier about their snacks, offer them another utensil to use instead of the standard spoon or fork. Let them use toothpicks, tweezers, pretzel sticks or chopsticks to pick up food like cheese cubes, small deviled eggs or fruit wedges. Make a game out of who can get the food into their mouth without dropping it first.

Check out our list of kids healthy snacks here, print it off (we’ve included a printable list) and keep it in your kitchen for a quick grocery list or ideas for school lunches or on the go kids healthy snacks.

Healthy Eating on a Budget Ideas

Cheaper isn’t always better. It’s easy to get excited over a good deal – like a $2 bag of potato chips that you’ve got an additional coupon for. However, we all know how unhealthy potato chips are. You may be better off purchasing a 3 lb. bag of potatoes for $2-$3 than the potato chips. Why? The potatoes will last longer and you’ll be able to make more nutritious dishes with them than you can the potato chips.

The above example is true for most processed foods. While at first glance, they appear to be cheap, they really aren’t when you consider how much more you can get when you by the whole food version. In other words, instead of purchasing the processed foods, purchase the whole food ingredients instead. For instance, instead of buying a loaf of bread – buy a bag of whole wheat flour and make your own! You’ll not only get more bread for the price, but you’ll also get healthier, better-tasting bread too!

Reduce meat consumption. Nothing will make you go over budget faster than meat. Meat is expensive, that’s all there is to it. While it’s not very cost-effective to replace your meat with substitutes such as tofu, you can save money by purchasing other protein rich foods such as beans and brown rice. This doesn’t mean you have to cut out all meats, but reducing your meat consumption will definitely help your grocery bill.

Shop for seasonal foods. When you begin shopping for healthier foods, you’ll most likely start buying more fruits and vegetables. In order to stay under budget, you will need to stick to the foods that are currently in season. Out-of-season foods are much more expensive than in-season foods. And, you can always buy extra of the in-season foods and can them yourself (or freeze/dry), giving you the ability to eat them when they are out of season!

Shop the outside edges. The healthiest foods are found on the outside edges of the grocery store. The prepackaged, processed foods are found in the center aisles. Therefore, purchase the majority of your groceries from the outside edges rather than the aisle-foods. Now, keep in mind some whole grain foods are found in the aisles such as flour and dried beans. However, this is the exception to the rule…most of the foods in the aisles are not healthy foods.

Eating Food from Home – So much money is wasted when we choose to go out to eat, whether it’s for a quick lunch or dinner at a restaurant. Not only is a lot of money wasted when we eat out, but most of the time, the food is not as healthy either. Therefore, you can eat healthier meals and save money by eating food from home.

Does this mean you have to eat all of your meals at home? Nope. If you work away from home, consider packing your own lunch and eating at the office. If you cook meals at home, then simply bring leftovers for work the next day.  You can even bring your own tea, coffee and/or snacks with you to work, which will save you even more money.

Stay Away from Fast Food – It’s hard to turn on the television without seeing an advertisement for a “great deal” at a nearby fast food restaurant.  Most people think that if they can get lunch for two for under $10, they’ve gotten a good deal. However, upon close inspection, fast food isn’t nearly that good of a deal. Even if you eat off the dollar menu. Not when you consider that you can fix yourself a healthier, homemade sandwich from home for far less than a dollar.

Save Money on Drinks – Restaurants and fast-food business make a ton of money on the drinks they serve. A regular sized drink (aside from water) will cost you $1.50 to $3.00 at most eating joints.

However, you can get several regular sized drinks for less than $1.50 when you by a 2-liter or family sized tea bags and make your own drinks.

If you prefer bottled water, consider investing in a reverse osmosis system (if you don’t have one), or even a cheaper water filtering system, and bring your own bottled water from home in a reusable bottle. You’ll save a lot of money here too.

Buy Extra – If you find something on sale at the store that can be easily preserved, by it in extra quantities. This doesn’t mean you have to be extreme about it like the people on Extreme Couponing shows, but stocking up on a few items here and there to save money, is a great idea. You can also save money by purchasing food at the grocery store that has been “damaged.” Generally, it’s not the food that is damaged, but the packaging that was damaged during transportation, but grocers still discount these items!

Unhealthy Eating Habits to Avoid

There are a lot of unhealthy eating habits that we unknowingly teach our children because we learned them from our parents. In many cases, it’s these unhealthy eating habits that contribute to the woes we suffer in regards to our children’s eating habits. Below are some unhealthy eating habits to avoid teaching your children.

Bargaining for Dessert. When our children are little, using dessert to get them to eat their veggies seems like a pretty smart (and easy) way to get the nutritious food down them. However, kids learn quick and they will begin to bargain with you all the time for dessert. They’ll use this technique to ensure they only have to eat the minimum required before they can have dessert. Therefore, don’t get this practice started!

You Must Clean Your Plate. While it sounds like a good rule to have to teach children not to put more on their plate then they can eat, this actually contributes to childhood obesity. Don’t force your children to eat everything on their plate, instead let them eat until they feel full. You can always start with small portions and give them seconds if they want it.

No Eating Before Mealtime. Most likely, we’ve all been told not to eat something before mealtime or our meal will be ruined. Of course, you don’t want your kids filling up on candy before a meal, but snacking between meals is often necessary for kids nonetheless. To remedy this problem, set daily snack times and feed your kids healthy snacks to subside their hunger until mealtime.

Repetitively Serving Food. Many parents will save food their child didn’t finish eating and serve it repetitively until it’s been eaten. This is not safe as bacteria grows on food easily. It also isn’t good, emotionally, for your child to make them sit at the table until everything on their plate has been eaten. This can create a lot of stress at mealtimes, and even contribute to an eating disorder later on.

Try replacing those bad habits with some of these ideas:

Encourage Snacks – Snacks aren’t bad, so encourage snack time and serve healthy foods instead of high-fat, high-sugar snacks.

Stop Eating When Full – Teach your children to “listen” to their stomachs at mealtime. When they start to feel full, it’s time to quit eating. Serve your child smaller portions to help them get used to this.

Do Away with Dessert – If you want to stop the dessert bargaining, do away with dessert. Or, you can serve dessert an hour after dinner is over…or, you can start preparing healthy “desserts” that can be served with the meal (fruit salad, fruit Jell-O, low-sugar baked apples, fresh fruit with yogurt dipping sauce, etc.).

Add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet

We should be getting at least five servings of fruits and veggies a day. Finding ways to get your kids to accomplish that is often a big challenge.

Here are some suggestions:

Prepare scrambled eggs or omelets with chopped veggies.

Serve fruit with breakfast.

Serve fruit with low-fat yogurt for a healthy snack.

Fresh veggies with low-fat dipping sauce, make great snacks too.

Serve a fresh cut salad with veggies with dinner.

Now that we’ve covered some ways you can substitute healthy foods in to your kids’ menus, let’s talk about the foods you need to eliminate from their diets.

Processed fruit snacks. Replace with real dried fruits.

Chips and dip. Replace with baked corn chips and salsa.

Cookies and candy bars. Replace with healthy granola bars.

Milkshakes and full-fat milk. Replace with real fruit smoothies.

White floured products. Replace with products made with whole wheat flour.

Sugary desserts. Replace with fresh fruits and low-fat yogurt.

Making all of these changes can be difficult, but here’s a few shopping tips to help you get started.

Primarily shop the outside of the grocery store, as most processed foods are found in the inside aisles.

Get all of your fresh produce prepared (wash, chopped and stored) on the day you bring it home from the grocery store to make it easily accessible.

The majority of the items you buy at the grocery store should be in the produce section followed by whole grain products and lean meats.

About the author

Mike

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