I know I am not alone when I say my kids are picky eaters as I’m sure many parents have to go through what I do. There are ways to motivate children to eat, so all is not lost. As long as you are willing to work with your kids to introduce them to good foods, you might just surprise yourself when they eat foods you never dreamed they would.
I wish my children would eat more and want to eat healthier foods rather than processed foods which I try very hard not to purchase. I am almost 5 years into motherhood and every day and I find myself trying to find multiple ways to encourage them to eat better or ways to hide the good stuff in our meals.
It is a constant struggle but something that is very important to me and obviously their well-being. I realize now that everything takes time so little by little I invest the time to teach my children about food. My daughter is the less picky of my two but still has her moments and recently I was told that our doctor would like to see my son put on a few pounds. It’s not a big concern but he is in the lower weight range for his age.
I want a snack! How many times have you heard this? I have heard this too many times that I am learning to completely block out this phrase in my head! It’s not easy creating snacks for fussy eaters but there are ways to get them to reach out and try something new.
Since birth my son has been a grazer. Even when nursing and bottle feeding he would normally only feed for a few minutes then take a break then want to eat again only a few minutes later. Currently he likes to snack more than he wants to eat any meals I make throughout the day. When he pushes away a meal that I have made and 5 minutes later says I want a snack, I get a bit irritated but know that I need to work harder to get him to understand. When you work hard to create a nice homemade meal and your child only wants a snack it can get depressing, but don’t lose all hope.
Create a food tray
There are a few things I refuse to purchase now such as fruit snacks. If I have fruit snacks in the house that is the only thing my daughter wants to eat. Sugary snacks are not exactly nourishing, so I have told her that I will no longer be buying them. It may be hard to do but sometimes keeping the kids away from processed foods and snacks that are not healthy for them is probably the smarter way to go. Instead I now make up a tray consisting of healthy foods such as nuts and raisins, cheese and crackers, veggies and dip and various fruits.
Since my children are such picky eaters I leave this out for them to help themselves, which seems to work out well because they do eat it. I am very cautious about how much cheese and dip I put in the tray so it’s not sitting out for too long. The premise behind making the food tray is at least if they choose to refuse my meals they are having much healthier snacks. Keeping the food tray out in the open and letting them help themselves encourages them to make smart food choices and hopefully forget the bad ones.
How do you fit healthy eating into a budget?
It was on Mr. CBB’s nightly ‘What’s for Dinner’ post on Facebook where I was first introduced to using lentil beans in my meals. Not only did I learn how good lentils are for you, but also how they can be used as an alternative to meat or as a filler to stretch a meal, thus stretching your grocery budget. I recently purchased a 2kg bag of red lentils on sale for $2.49. A 2kg bag can make a lot of meals. Mr. CBB has shared some excellent lentil recipes that won’t break my budget and I have also experimented with some of my own.
If you are looking for an easy meatless meal try his Lentil Sloppy Joe recipe which I have made many times with green lentils. I’ve also added lentils as a filler with ground chicken or turkey so I would have leftovers for work the next day. Pretty much anything I make with ground meat I often will entirely replace with lentils or add in to stretch the meal. Lentils are also low in fat and calories, gluten-free and have a low glycemic index making them suitable for a diabetic diet.
Nutritional Benefits of lentils
Lentils are loaded with nutrition including
- Protein, including the essential amino acids isoleucine and lysine
- Dietary fibre, with green lentils being higher in fibre than red.
- Vitamin B1
- Potassium, one serving of lentils has more potassium than a banana
Hiding vegetables in food
For Christmas last year my mom kindly gave me a food processor, and what a great addition it has been to my kitchen. If I am making spaghetti I grind up fresh carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery…really anything I have around and add it to the sauce. Recently Mr. CBB made chickpea chocolate chip cookies with coconut and flax which I can’t wait to try and test out on my kids. I’m sure they won’t be able to tell the difference. Encouraging my kids to learn healthy eating habits is important but as we all know it can be a challenge. Simply by hiding ingredients that my picky eating kids would not typically eat at least I know they are still getting the nutrition even if they don’t know it.
Making meals fun
I have to thank good friends of mine who turned eating salad into a magic trick for the kids. I have used this many more times at home with my fussy eaters and it works like a charm. I will say something like ‘Try and show me that you can make three of the cucumbers disappear’ If he does he gets praise and then I encourage him to make the whole bowl disappear. He has been very proud of himself and yesterday while not even around food he told me how much he now likes lettuce and cucumbers. That’s 2 points for mom even if I had to create a magic trick to score the points. If I ask the kids what they would like to have for dinner my daughter now requests salad more often.
Involve the kids in preparing the meals
Cooking with your kids is a great way to get their creative juices flowing. Letting your child(ren) help make the meals may encourage them to eat because they are excited to eat something that they created. I believe adults are the same way. Any time I create a new recipe in the kitchen I can’t wait to dig in because I’m proud of what I made with my own two hands.
My son is the official ‘mixer’ in our house, from scrambled eggs to pancakes or muffins he’s the man with the muscles. My daughter really enjoys ripping up the lettuce so that is her role when we are making a salad. I hope to eventually graduate them to different levels of food prep as they get older. Keeping the cooking game process interesting and changing it up also motivates them. If they feel they are doing the same thing over and over the excitement might just quickly fade.
Teaching children to grocery shop
Grocery shopping with the kids is something I intentionally avoided for a couple of years. Being a single mom I would usually shop on the days I worked and already had a babysitter. This way I could avoid the mid-aisle tantrums because I said no to Fruit Loops, that darn Toucan Sam on the front gets them every time. Feeding fussy eaters is only fuelled when they see foods in the grocery store that they want but can’t have. There has to be an educational aspect to the food shopping process so my goal is to provide this to them. One day I hope to take it a step further and teach my kids to save while grocery shopping to teach them about money and budgets.
Now, I bring them with me and take the time to let them have a say in some of the products that we purchase. I do still stick to my grocery list, but I give them some options. An example would be asking them if they would prefer red or green grapes for fruits or Shreddies or Cheerios for a cereal. By giving them a choice it allows them to be involved in the decision-making process which means they may actually want to eat it.
Dealing with picky eaters is something that most or almost all parents deal with at some point. Being creative and finding ways to involve your kids in the meal planning and preparation is not only fun for them but a great way for them to learn some kitchen skills as they grow up which they can carry on with them in life.
What else can you recommend to get picky eaters to eat better?
Katrina is regular contributor for Canadian Budget Binder and is as passionate about personal finance as she is gardening. Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production.
Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences blogging about gardening and her continued passion for personal finance in hopes of motivating others. While being a single mom of two and an in-store marketing representative for major retail shops she also runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario.
Are you NEW to Canadian Budget Binder?
- Follow Me on Social Media: Twitter, Facebook , Pinterest , StumbleUpon, Reddit and Google+
- Plus! Don’t forget to Subscribe to the blog so you get my daily email!!
- If you need to get in touch with me the best way is on Facebook!
- Spending less: Kids’ birthday parties on a budget (canadianbudgetbinder.com)
- How To Overcome Laziness And Save Money In 5 Steps (canadianbudgetbinder.com)
- How to budget as a couple (canadianbudgetbinder.com)
- Backyard to your kitchen: Tips for growing a Fall garden (canadianbudgetbinder.com)
- Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers And Your Baby Budget (canadianbudgetbinder.com)
- What do you want money for? (canadianbudgetbinder.com)
Photo Credit: Eat Freedigitalphotos. net/Stuart Miles chef/imagerymajestic