How do we feed kids meals they will eat that aren’t junk? They LIKE McDonald’s happy meals, but is that what’s best for their growing bodies? Click here to see why kids need optimal nutrition.
I polled my provider friends to find out what their kids top favorite meals are and they gave me a great list. Every single thing they suggested can be made in a healthy way. There are so many ways to add nutrition to kid’s food. Click here to see how to even hide nutritious food from picky eaters so they still get the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy. You can add fruits and veggies in meals in ways kids don’t expect. You can try serving them a food a new way like roasting broccoli instead of steaming or boiling it. Click here for the directions. Kid’s nutrition is so important; they are worth the effort to feed them well.
If you’re trying to plan your menu for childcare, click here to see how I break it down into easier steps. It’s one of the most complicated things we have to do as far as paperwork goes in childcare.
Make meals fun. Kids will eat a lot wider variety of foods if you give them the chance to cook it themselves. Click here to see why they should be in the kitchen as much as possible. It also helps kids to try foods when they look appealing. A fresh yummy peach looks so much more inviting than soggy ole canned peaches. Think about the flavors and textures kids are experiencing and make sure it’s something you’d want to eat too.
- Make it yourself: Panini, tacos, pizza, whatever they get to choose the toppings for, the kids will love. You can have a ton of healthy options that are colorful and fun. Pizza doesn’t just have to be pepperoni, you can offer broccoli, asparagus, onions, spinach, olives, just about anything you can imagine and they will choose what you’d least expect to put on their pizza. The kids will love it. Click here to see how to make an amazing pizza homemade.
- Anything on a cracker. Kids love to make a little sandwich and will pile whatever they can fit on a cracker to make a stack. Offer them cucumber slices, tomato slices, lettuce, even cooked kale or spinach and they will pile it up on a cracker with some cheese or meat. They love being creative.
- Grilled sandwiches. You can grill a cheese sandwich, and who doesn’t love that, but get creative with what you put on that sammy. You can add all kinds of creative and healthy items. You can grill ham and cheese, chicken breast, or turkey. It’s delish grilled.
- Salads are colorful and fun for kids. Don’t just stick to lettuce salad. Those are fine and can be topped with all kinds of colorful yumminess, but you can also make marinated salads, fruits salads, cucumber salad or any number of inviting foods that kids will love. If I told you a vinegar cucumber salad is one of my top favorite side dishes among my 2-4 year olds, would you believe me? That and broccoli reign supreme at Little Sprouts. Last week when I was on vacation, one of my kids told the provider he stayed with that he wanted her to make her cucumbers into cucumber salad like I do. They do love it.
- What’s more fun than a meatball? You can add a ton of nutritious surprises in your meatballs to enhance the healthy factor. Click here to see how I make green powder from my extra garden greens. You can mix it in just about anything and meatballs are no exception. About a tablespoon of green powder is a serving of greens, so it doesn’t take that much to enhance the nutrients you are serving. Meatballs are delicious and can be made out of a variety of meats and other ingredients. You can serve them in spaghetti sauce, with garlic butter sauce, over rice, or any number of yummy ways.
- I am world famous for my cheese quesadillas. They are delish. When I see teenagers that used to be enrolled in my program, this is the top mentioned thing. I miss your quesadillas they say. I just take a flour tortilla, add some cheese, top it with another tortilla and cook it in a smidge of butter until golden brown. Easy peasy. Kids love this and it’s not full of salt and sugar. Look at the ingredients on your corn dogs or your hot pockets. You really do want to be making your kid’s food yourself. Anything can go in a quesadilla too.
- Make your OWN chicken nuggets. It’s not super hard to cut up some chicken breast and toss it flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Spread a little olive oil on a cookie sheet and toss your chicken on it. Bake until done. These are so good and not full of all the additives you will find in the store bought ones. Knowing what’s in your kid’s food is such peace of mind.
- Spaghetti is the number one kid favorite among my daycare poll answers. I hate to serve spaghetti because it’s so messy, but you can. Making your own meat sauce is simple too, just cook a chopped onion until translucent, brown up your meat, add a couple of cans of tomato sauce and some Italian seasoning and garlic. Cook it down for a bit and serve it over cooked noodles. Using elbows or other shapes can cut down on the mess of the long noodles. You can add a ton of grated veggies into your sauce with the meat and cook them down. The kids will never know they are eating extra vegetables. You can also make the meat sauce in bulk and freeze it divided in the amounts you will need. This is a huge time saver.
- Sloppy Joes or burgers are a big hit with kids and aren’t that complicated to make. Sloppy joes can be made with some browned ground beef and some spaghetti sauce you made yourself. Hamburgers just need a little salt and pepper in the meat and you can grill or bake or even fry them up for a tasty kid friendly meal.
- Fettuccini Alfredo is another favorite among kids. You can top it with some baked chicken or mix some ham or other meat into the sauce. Alfredo is easy to make, just take some butter and flour and cook it down. Add milk and cook until you have your basic sauce. Then add some grated parmesean, salt, pepper, and garlic and any other seasonings you wish and you have a delicious, easy meal with no added chemicals.
Meals don’t need to be all frozen chicken blobs and frozen fries. You don’t have to toss out Oreos and Pop Tarts to get your kids to eat. Mc Donald’s isn’t the only thing they’ll eat, I promise. They will behave better and you’ll feel better if you feed them homemade food that isn’t full of preservatives and artificial ingredients.
Eat WITH the kids. Eating with them not only models good manners, but it models good eating habits. Show them how yummy those healthy foods are. They are more likely to try what they see you enjoying. Slow down and enjoy doing life with them. Don’t be in such a rush. Just a little effort goes a long way for a healthier lifestyle for you and the kids. You won’t be sorry you took the time to feed them well. If you feed yourself well, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel too.
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