Families on the run today often find it difficult, if not impossible to make good food choices. One way to ensure that meals are as healthy as possible every day is to take time to plan. Menu planning is decidedly the most important step in eating healthy foods, as it tends to lessen the need to visit a restaurant, drive-thru or call for fast food delivery. It’s easy to change the way you feed your children with a little planning!
How to Change The Way You Feed Your Children
1. Plan the Shopping List
Taking the time to focus on what you will eat each day also gives you the time to make healthier food decisions. Instead of visiting the grocery store on an empty stomach and purchasing everything that looks good, you can take a healthy, well thought out shopping list with you. Many parents who have tried this method of planning, shopping and healthier eating have found that the premade shopping list actually decreases the time they have to spend in the grocery store.
2. Look for New Products
Sometimes, it is impossible to know everything that will be on the store shelves. For instance, Hampton creek, a newer company featuring healthy products such as egg-free Just Mayo, has only just gotten some of its products onto store shelves. Take a minute while in the store to compare items that are traditionally known to be necessary even though they are not healthy. Look around in the general vicinity to see if you can find a healthier alternative for your family. You may be pleasantly surprised.
3. Let the Kids Feed on Excitement
The last thing parents want in the grocery store is overly excited kids, however, there is a good way to get your children excited in the grocery store. A side benefit to this is that they will also be entertained! One of the most challenging things about planning healthier menus for a family is often the fact that children love familiarity. Comfort foods are typically a must. New types of foods that suddenly appear on a plate are often pushed aside and go untouched.
Letting your children help select healthy products in the grocery store is a great way to familiarize them with the food, which often helps them eat them more willingly at home. One fun idea is to have a scavenger hunt in the produce section of your supermarket. Give each child a list of colours, shapes or sizes and let them select which fruits and veggies they would like to try!
4. Print a Kid’s List
Children often feel empowered if they are allowed to carry a list into the grocery store, just like mom or dad. Give the child a pen or pencil, and they can even mark things off of their list as you make your way through the store. This way, their focus is on the items on their list instead of on the sugary treats at the end of each aisle! For younger children, spend some time getting pictures of some items on your grocery list. Copy and paste them onto a paper in a numbered list so that they can watch the shelves for items that match their pictures.
While this may seem like a lot of work, the excitement and good behaviour of your children might be just the payoff you’ve been looking for! If you need an easier idea, you can focus on colours – asking the child to make tally marks by each colour on their list when you put something into the cart. Anything that will keep a child’s attention in the grocery store is a good thing.
5. Keep an Eye on Your Budget
Believe it or not, the best way to keep your grocery budget down is to make a menu, so you’re already part of the way there! The mere fact that you have a menu and a list will save more than you would believe. Add this to the money you save by not eating out, and you will see that healthy family eating is not so difficult after all.
Another tip to helping ease the pinch in your wallet when it comes to groceries is to purchase in bulk if possible. For instance, if you know that you always use ground turkey to cook, then buy a lot of it when it goes on sale. Of course, it is important to know how long it will stay good in your freezer so you don’t overbuy!
Healthy family eating habits do not have to be expensive or take all of your extra time. A little planning and creativity will ensure that everyone can be involved and enjoy the process. It’s definitely easy with these steps to change the way you feed your children with a little planning!