This post is in partnership with Revolution Foods.
Feeding my kids is one of the most important things I do, yet it’s one of my primary sources of day-to-day frustration. My five-year-old is a great eater (although she wasn’t always this way). She likes a variety of healthy foods and is willing to try new things. She’s also always hungry, which means I hear the phrase, “I’m huuuuuungry,” all the time (All. The. Time!). A good chunk of my day revolves around preparing and cleaning up after meals and snacks. Then there’s my nearly-four-year-old who is an extremely picky eater, so much so that we recently had him evaluated by a feeding therapist to get a handle on his ever-narrowing list of edible foods. Apparently, there are picky eaters and then there are “problem eaters.” Great.
Between the two of them, food is a stressor in our household. Packing healthy lunches for school, preparing snacks at home, and cooking dinners the whole family will enjoy is equal parts challenging and frustrating – and neither one of my kids has food allergies! I can’t imagine how much harder it would be if certain foods were actually harmful to them.
Still, I need to make some changes, so #MyNewGoal this back-to-school season is to implement some strategies that can streamline my time in the kitchen and keep my family on the path to healthy eating.
Buying School Lunch
With so much focus on food at home, I need to give myself a break where I can. I’m starting off the year by packing my kindergartner’s school lunch, but once she’s settled into her new routine I’m hoping we can switch to buying lunch.
I feel comfortable letting her purchase lunch because Revolution Foods provides meals to all of the schools in the San Francisco Unified School District. If you’re unfamiliar with Revolution Foods, the Oakland-based company is on a mission to build lifelong healthy eaters by making kid-inspired, chef-crafted food accessible to all. They design, produce and deliver over 2.5 million healthy, affordable meals to students and families throughout the country each week, including right here in the Bay Area and to the San Francisco Unified School District!
All of their meals are kid-inspired and chef-crafted using fresh local produce, high-quality proteins, rBST-free dairy products, and no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. They engage with kids at every step of the development process to ensure a menu they’ll love that is also well-balanced and exceeds nutrition guidelines. This is so important when you’re trying to appeal to the pickiest of eaters.
As a mother, I know that nutritious eating helps my kids’ minds and bodies grow. Recent studies show that nutritious foods create improved health and academic outcomes. According to a paper published by UC Berkeley, students at schools that contract with a healthier school-lunch vendor perform better on tests. Developing healthy eating habits will always be a priority in my house, and I feel comfortable knowing it’s a priority when my daughter’s at school, too.
Bento Boxes for Lunches
Bento boxes are the perfect solution for preparing lunches ahead of time and even allow my kids to pull out snacks for themselves during the day. In fact, national healthy school meal provider, Revolution Foods, recently distributed a survey to students and parents and one of the findings was that 45 percent of parents and 30 percent of students actually selected “bento-style meals” when asked what their ideal school meal would be over unhealthier options like burgers, pizza, and chicken nuggets. Plus, there is no more negotiating about what is an appropriate snack. They have the autonomy to choose what they want to eat out of their bento box. We’ll also start working on having them pack their boxes themselves (with pre-approved lunch items).
Single Serve Dippers
Single serve containers of hummus and peanut butter are convenient to carry with me when we’re on the go and easy for my kids to serve themselves at home. The new foods I’m encouraging my son to eat will (hopefully) be more appetizing when dipped in something he actually likes.
For breakfast and lunch, I’ve let my kids get in the habit of taking a few bites of food, getting up and playing, coming back later to eat a little more, then complaining that whatever they’re eating is too mushy, too cold, etc. They end up still being hungry and ask for more food five minutes later. This drives me nuts! The strategies I employ at dinner to keep them at the table longer will now be in effect for breakfast and lunch. Since visuals help kids understand what’s expected of them, I found these fun hourglass timers in 15- and 30-minute increments to make our time at the table more manageable.
Meal Time Fun
Besides teaching my kids that healthy food nourishes their bodies, I want them to understand that there’s joy in dining together. This will become trickier as I crack down on their snacking and make them sit down for three square meals a day. Our food therapist suggested that we try board game themed plates to make meals a little more exciting for both kids and to encourage my son to eat something new in order to get to his “prize” at the end of the plate. She also said it’s fine to let him watch his iPad or the television if it encourages him to sit, eat, and experiment with new foods. That’s music to my ears. We’ll keep family dinner screen-free and rely on our current dinner time games, but I’ll happily have a screen help me from time to time so I can tend to other things.
Visit Revolution Foods and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to find more kid-pleasing recipes and ideas for healthy living. I’d also love to know what strategies you use to get your kids to eat new and healthy foods. Share your tips and favorite recipes in the comments.