Plan for Healthy Eating for Kids this Summer

Families in Iowa are getting ready for summer vacation. I’ve heard several discussions concerning how old children should be to stay home by themselves part or all of the day, household rules, and how to get siblings to get along when the parents are gone.

Eating is another routine that changes during the summer. Kids often get up later since they don’t have to go to school, they may skip breakfast, and just snack all day instead of eating meals.   

Sitting down to plan lunch meals with your kids is a good idea. This way the menu includes foods they like and can make themselves. As for snacks, consider preparing two snack boxes—one for the refrigerator and one for the cupboard. Parents or adults choose what goes in the box and children choose what they would like to eat from the box. The University of Missouri Extension has a handout called Pack a snack box with healthy ideas for getting started. 

Remember, you are in charge of buying food. If you only buy healthy foods, that’s what the kids will have to eat.

Next week, recipes for kids…

-pointers from Peggy

Plan a lunch that won’t get traded away

Have you ever visited your kids’ school lunchroom. Imagine the New York Stock exchange–only with yogurt being exchanged for a sack of chips instead of stocks being bought and sold.

One of the most important tips for packing lunches that your child won’t trade away is to involve them in the planning, shopping and preparation of their meals. Children who help select items are likely to remain interested in their selections…and will probably look forward to trying them. This is also true for meals at home, but even more important for meals eaten away from you.

-pointers by Peggy

Shopping with Kids

We all know it is much easier to shop without kids along, but sometimes it can’t be avoided.

Recently, Ruby, an Extension staff member, shared how she dealt with this issue as a single parent. Together, she and her pre-school daughter planned their meals and snacks, wrote their grocery list and then went to the store. When the four-year old saw something she wanted, they’d check the list. If it wasn’t on the list, they didn’t buy it.

The list was specific. If they needed cereal, the brand was included. No more ‘middle of the cereal aisle’ arguments as to whether to buy plain Cheerios® or a pre-sweetened cereal with a favorite character on the package front. Yes, the four-year-old sometimes said “we need to put that cereal on the list next time,” but generally forgot about it when time came for the next planning session.

Snacks were part of the planned list, too. It is much easier to guide a child’s snack choices at home where healthy snacks can be planned for, than in front of the tempting candy or chip section at the store.

What about toys, books, and other trinkets? Since they didn’t eat them, they weren’t on the list!

Looking back, Ruby realizes this strategy has lots of benefits. They stayed within their limited food budget, ate healthier food choices, her daughter learned discipline at an early age and they shared a pleasant time together.

What do you do to make shopping with kids a little easier?

For additional shopping tips check out when to shop on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. site.

-contributed by Joyce Greving

Fruit Kabobs—Look Elegant, Taste Great, Kid-Friendly

Sometimes it’s the way you present food that makes it special. Fruit Kabobs are an example. You could chop fruits up and stir the yogurt in, but it wouldn’t look this good.

Kids will love to make their own kabobs—let them choose the fruit, and maybe slip in something they haven’t tried. Check out the SpendSmart. Eat Smart. recipe page for the Fruit Kabob recipe . Let the kids watch, and after the fruits are cut into pieces, they can take over!

The cost for the fruit kabobs is $2.67 for 30. I wouldn’t buy the whipped topping for just 2 tablespoons, but if you have it on hand, it adds a little.

Fruit Kabobs for $2.67
 1 red delicious apple: $0.30
2 kiwi: $0.67
10.6 ounce can chunk pineapple: $1.00
8 ounces low-fat fruit yogurt: $0.66
2 tablespoons fat-free whipped topping: $0.04

-pointers by Peggy

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