Meal Plan Ideas for Kids
- Low-sugar granola. Can be served with milk, chopped banana, or diluted fruit juice.
- Cup of cornflakes with chopped apple and/or chopped nuts.
- Scrambled eggs on toast, perhaps with plain yogurt and berries.
- Oatmeal with raisins.
- Baked beans on toast with a small glass of whole milk.
- Baked potato with tuna.
- Shepherd’s pie and green vegetables.
- Macaroni cheese and green vegetables.
- Chicken and lentil soup.
- Pasta with ham and peas.
- Tuna sandwich
- Omelet with green beans.
- Lamb with small new potatoes lightly roasted (not fried) in olive oil.
- Tuna with pasta bows and vegetables.
- Pita bread with chicken slices and sliced sweet red peppers.
- Salmon fillet with mashed potato and ratatouille.
- Chicken and mixed vegetable casserole.
- Cup of plain popcorn (home-made).
- Fruit and unsalted mixed nuts.
- Cream cheese on oatcakes and grapes.
- Smoothie made of milk and red berries.
- Unsweetened nut butter (almond is popular with children) on toast.
- Sliced carrots and celery with avocado dip.
- Fresh fruit salad with oat pancake.
Diet Advice for Kids
- Don’t force younger children to eat everything on their plate – kids quickly get tired of the same taste, which is why they often only eat half of their main course but still want a pudding – they’ve simply got bored with the taste of the main course.
- Avoid using food as a reward – it simply becomes more desirable. But that’s not all – other foods become less desirable, too. In other words, telling children they can have some sweets if they eat their veg simply makes the sweets more alluring and the veg less appealing!
- Get children involved at mealtimes – younger children in particular are far more likely to eat something they’ve made themselves so let them help you cook healthy meals such as fishcakes, homemade burgers, fruit muffins, wholemeal scones, smoothies and sandwiches. Meanwhile, encourage teenagers to eat with the family.
- Encourage children to eat regularly, especially breakfast – studies show that breakfast eaters tend to be slimmer than people who skip this meal.
- Don’t make your child’s weight and size an ‘issue’. To help your child lose weight focus on good nutrition, avoid using the ‘diet’ word, don’t weigh your child regularly and lead by example – if you eat sensibly and exercise frequently, your child will be more likely to do the same.
- Talk to your child about the benefits of eating well and looking after their body. Health is generally not a priority for children so focus on other issues that are important to them. 5 A Day for Kids
One trick that often works for both fruits and vegetables is to find foods that your kids already like to eat, like smoothies, muffins, yogurt, etc., and find recipes that allow you to add fruits or vegetables to them, like banana .
The easiest way to get some fruit into your child is to switch from soda and fruit drinks to 100% fruit juice. Although eating whole fruit is better because it also has fiber, 4-6 oz of 100% fruit juice for children 1-6 years old and 8-12 ounces for older children is an easy way to ‘eat’ 1-2 servings of fruit.
- let your kids pick the fruits they want to eat when you go shopping
- mix fruit pieces in with yogurt or serve them with a dip
- make fruit smoothies
- offer a fruit salad, with a mix of watermelon, grapes, strawberries, etc. as a dessert or snack
- make a snack mix with raisins, nuts and cereal
- add chopped fruit, especially berries and bananas, to your child’s cereal
- try dried fruits
- mix in some chopped fruit with jell-o
Fruit isn’t usually the big problem though. Getting kids to eat their veggies is usually the bigger challenge.
Creative ways to get your kids to eat more vegetables can include camouflaging them in with other foods, like chopping up and mixing vegetables in with pasta sauces, lasagna, casseroles, soup, chili, omelets, etc. or adding veggie toppings to pizza. You can even find recipes for things like banana raisin pancakes, carrot beef meatballs or zucchini cookies, that your kids might enjoy.
It might also help to:
- offer chopped veggies with a dip, like ranch dressing
- serve vegetables as a stir-fry
- let your child help prepare the meal
- start a vegetable garden at home so your kids can eat the vegetables they grow or visit a farm or farmer’s market.
What about popcorn? Although often thought of as a grain, it is really just popped corn, which is a vegetable, right? Maybe. But popcorn is usually thought of as a starch or gain and doesn’t count as a serving of vegetables.
Getting kids to eat well, and especially eat fruits and vegetables is a challenge for many parents. To help prevent your child from becoming a picky eater, you should:
- start early by offering a large variety of foods to your toddler
- make mealtimes fun and don’t try to force your kids to eat things they don’t want
- look for creative ways to offer your kids fruits and vegetables
If all else fails, consider offering a multi-vitamin and talk to your Pediatrician.
Fruits and Vegetables
First of all, get your kids to help creating menus, shopping, and preparing food. They are generally more apt to eat when they have made some decisions about the meals. You, of course, can guide their decisions. Look for children’s cookbooks, which have kid-friendly recipes and basic cooking lessons.
In the summer, try to get your children interested in gardening. If they can see super sweet cherry tomatoes, strawberries, corn, or baby peas growing, then harvest them, that may get them more interested in vegetables and fruits.
You can try sneaking fruits and veggies into the foods you make, but I think it’s a better idea to try to get them gradually used to eating more fresh foods. I know that sounds like a challenge, but their taste buds need to be ‘trained’. Kids’ taste buds are far more sensitive than adults, and many kids have a very strong negative reaction to bitter flavors, making foods like spinach, brussels sprouts, and asparagus really unpalatable.
Nutritionists say that most children need to actually see a new food four to five times before they’ll even try it, so keep introducing those fruits and veggies. In our house when I was growing up, we had a rule: you had to taste every thing on your plate just once. Back then, I would NOT eat brussels sprouts or asparagus, even though I do like them now. Here are some more ideas:
- Try to focus on the sweeter ‘good for you’ foods, like strawberries, mandarin oranges, cherries, tomatoes, sweet peas, and corn.
- You can add some finely chopped fruits to gelatin salads, add some pureed sweet peas to guacamole, and serve tiny vegetables, like baby carrots and baby corn, with appetizer dips.
- I like using pureed fruits in desserts – even though they’re desserts, you are getting some nutrition into your kids.
- Finely chop carrots and mix them into spaghetti sauce.
- Make some fruit breads – banana bread, pear bread, and apple bread are all good.
- vegetables to the sauce. You can get some minced veggies into tuna or chicken salad as well.