Fellow parents, getting your little ones to enthusiastically gobble up their greens can be hard, am I right? Well, today I want to let you in on one of my tried and true secrets for making sure my 10, eight and three-year-old get a well-rounded diet with minimal fuss most of the time – meal planning!
Starting children off early in life with healthy eating is the key to making it easier on you, the adult. Although, when it comes to kids there is always a challenge. For example, my eldest ate bear paws and pre-packaged sliced cheese, and yes – even McDonald’s as a younger child. My youngest has barely tried anything from the centre aisles in the grocery store, but he can still be a very picky eater. My middle child hates fruit! What the…?
Meal-planning, however, helps to remove the guess work from what to feed my family. I take about 30 minutes each week and plan out what we will eat from Monday to Friday afternoon.
THE BENEFITS OF MEAL PLANNING
If I plan my meals from Monday’s breakfast until Friday’s lunch, I’ll usually have enough leftovers Friday night to whip up something on the fly for dinner. Plus I am having 70% of my meals with clean ingredients that keeps my family healthy, happy and gives my kids a strong foundation to build a healthy immune system on. I know the 80/20 rule is popular these days, but I prefer to strive for 70/30 so as not to let “perfect” be the enemy of good.
The best part of meal planning is that I have no stress during a busy week with what to make and my kids have a few meals they get to pick (the clean version of course!) Some meals they just have to eat whether they like it or not, because I will never make a separate meal for them.
FOOD CAN BE FLEXIBLE
However, I do believe in flexibility, which means my kids have “treats” such as going out to restaurants and once in a blue moon having dairy and wheat. It’s not about moderation for us, as I believe that food that will leave us with health issues should rarely be eaten. Being flexible, however, is only fair.
For example, if my kids go to a birthday party, I’m not willing to force them to skip the cake. I mean, that wouldn’t be any fun, right? I let them enjoy because I know what they will be eating the following week and how healthy and non-inflammatory it will be.
IT TAKES TIME AND PRACTICE
I only arrived at this destination after committing a solid effort to plan my weekly meals and making sure that what they were getting was mostly healthy. In other words, meal planning allows me to make room for sub-optimal eating.
I’m happy that my kids now know what it feels like to have a ton of energy and sharp minds. Hopefully when they get out into the world on their own and they eat crap and feel like crap, they will know what feeling amazing is like and have a grasp of how to get back there.
What does healthy eating for kids on a meal plan look like?
Here’s a little slice of our life. For breakfast today my kids had egg muffins with spinach, mushrooms and goat cheese. They snacked on berries, bananas, and oranges. Lunch was lettuce turkey wraps with some cut up veggies and, just to really torture them, dinner was a sautéed sausages with sauerkraut and Swiss chard. Not too bad at all and even this one day of clean eating on its own is enough to make a momma feel proud.