Hectic work lives and activity-packed weekends (plus Bangkok traffic) can make it hard to plan and prep healthy meals for hungry kids. But there are some simple ways to pack nutrition into their day, without compromising on taste. With that in mind, here are five hassle-free ways you can get the kids eating healthier, whether you’re cooking at home or grabbing food on the run.
1. Healthy snacks on the go
When you’re out and about and little tummies start rumbling, grabbing lunch from the nearest (rather than healthiest) place can sway decision-making. So it’s worth making some healthy snacks to stave off sudden hunger pangs. Wrapped cheese strings, packs of raisins, yoghurts and chopped fruit are all great grab-and-go options that need little to no prep. If possible, get the kids involved in helping you pack their snacks so it feels like eating them is their choice as much as yours.
2. Swap sugary snacks for homemade treats
Not all sweet treats need to be off limits. So try to swap out processed sugary treats (such as sweets, cookies and cakes) for a few delicious, homemade options. Whip up some homemade granola bars, double chocolate cereal treats, or a batch of oatmeal and pecan snack cookies. These treats are easy to make in advance, simple to store, and definitely preferable to a lot of kids snacks that contain artificial ingredients and added sugars.
3. Get sneaky with their five-a-day
It’s recommended that we all eat five portions of fruit and veg a day. In truth, that’s not easy for a lot of adults to do. So if your little ones have an aversion to their greens, you might need to be a bit sneaky with how you get veggies into their day. Whiz up a few portions of vegetables into a tasty stew for dinner. Make homemade sweet potato fries instead of cooking frozen shop-bought chips. If your kids love burgers, make your own and add in a handful of raw baby spinach, pumpkin or carrots. Do the same with homemade meatballs and add them to pasta for an extra veggie boost. When it comes to fruit, you could have a go at making your own frozen fruit lollipops or a tasty dessert like this strawberry cheesecake smoothie. Not working? Here are more tips on being sneaky with veg.
4. Freedom to choose from the restaurant menu
When you’re eating out, it’s easy to assume that kids just want to eat pizza, fried rice, and cheese-covered pastas. But given the chance, they might surprise you. Let them look through the menu without trying to steer them towards their “favourite” choices. Give them a taste of your own dish. Or pick a few starters with new flavours they might not have tried before. Giving kids’ freedom to experiment, and slowly opening them up to new foods might just lead to them discover a new dish they end up loving.
5. The scientific benefits of eating together
Healthy eating isn’t just about what goes on a plate. Getting the kids involved with the cooking, and creating a positive mealtime environment are also important. In fact, eating together as a family has been scientifically shown to have numerous mental and physical health benefits. These include reduced risks of weight issues, healthier food choices, and improved performances in school. By making a habit of sharing meals around the table (with no TV or devices), the whole family stands to benefit from a host of health-promoting benefits.