(BPT) - Think fast, it’s mealtime! Nowadays, the weeknight struggle can be a tough balancing act. For most, trying to get a well-balanced meal on the table that the kids will actually enjoy is exhausting. And as most parents know, kids are not always the most adventurous eaters. They often discover one or two types of food they like and then stick with those. Do you have a kid who will only eat pasta, grilled cheese, or chicken nuggets, and nothing else?
Stocking the freezer with foods our kids will be excited to try helps ensure they get more of the vitamins and other nutrients their growing bodies need. Here are five simple, at-home tips for providing a wide variety of nutritious meals that kids will love.
1. Delightful dips
The World Health Organization recommends people eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, but getting kids to eat more fresh produce can be a challenge. Offering them some type of dip to go with those fruits or veggies can transform it into a tasty snack. Kids love to dip their food, so pair up your produce with something smooth or saucy to help dress it up, like, yogurt, guacamole, hummus, dressing, nut butter, etc.
2. Super seafood
The USDA recommends people eat seafood at least twice a week to get their share of nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids. Make eating seafood fun with easy-prep, fun-shaped items like SeaPak's Shrimp Sea Pals. With no artificial flavors or colors, these nuggets — playfully shaped like sea turtles and starfish — are sure to bring smiles at mealtime. Plus, one serving contains 14 grams of protein, providing a satisfying meal for kids of all ages.
3. Fun with food
A little creativity can go a long way in getting kids to expand their palates. An easy first step is to offer up an assortment of colorful foods that will catch a child’s eye (think peppers or grapes). Another simple trick is to add an artistic touch to the presentation of your kids’ meals. That bowl of oatmeal will be a lot more appealing with a happy face made from blueberries on top. Eating becomes an enjoyable adventure when your food looks like fun.
4. Grocery list buddies
When you’re thinking of what you need from the grocery store, talk about the different ingredients with your kids so they can learn more about different foods. Encourage them to select something new to try at home. With older children, get them excited about helping you pick out the ingredients for a recipe that you can make together. Inviting kids into the cooking process helps them feel empowered. Plus, they are more likely to eat the individual foods they helped select, not to mention the dishes they helped create.
5. Mix and match
When serving something new, try pairing it with something your child already loves. For example, set out a new type of fruit with the yogurt they eat every day at snack time. Or add some steamed veggies to their next bowl of noodles.
With a little imagination, you can help your kids learn to love so many different types of foods. Pretty soon you’ll find yourselves trying new foods and tasty dishes all the time.