Being a Stay at Home Dad I have many different roles and titles; Parent, Educator, Cleaner, House Keeper, Washer and Dryer, Fashion Designer and Cook.
These often keep me busy throughout the day; each task will often have little handy tips. However; I have found that when it comes to being the Cook it is easy to fall into the habit of having ‘Quick Meals’ but in doing so you end up wrestling with a variety of questions.
My main concerns are:
Is what they are eating Healthy? And; Have I tried to include, somehow, their recognised 5-a-day Fruit and Vegetables?
I would often get to the afternoon and it would hit me that I haven’t included any fruit and veg. I would suddenly panic and try to squeeze as many into the evening meal as possible.
It can be a difficult task, for any parent, when preparing Breakfasts, Packed Lunches, Snacks and Dinner; especially if you are faced with a fussy eater!
When a child is confronted with a healthy option as a snack it is easy for them to disregard what you have provided. Many of you, like me, have given your child fruit or vegetables and the first thing they do is glance down, with a suspicious look, and without trying it; you will hear a little voice say “I don’t like it”
This can become every parent’s nightmare. You know what you have provided is good for them but from your Child’s perspective you have just served up a ‘Bushtucker Trial’ of Worms, Grasshoppers and roasted Kangaroo testicles!
So how can you include the Government suggested 5-a-day?
I am often found sneaking fruit and veg into other types of food; from adding fruit to the Cereal, cutting small pieces of Carrots into a Bolognaise or even making a Swede or Parsnip Mash. This, once put into a routine, can become a regular staple of your meals.
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Providing your child with a change in texture can make all the difference; there are many varieties of brands which are registered as 2 or more of your daily 5-a-day. Although there is some debate over how ‘healthy’ some of these brands are I really wouldn’t worry; it can just be a great first step. If, however, you are faced with a dilemma on what brand is best then consider finding a recipe and making your own!
Eating can be fun
If your child is anything like mine then they love to get messy and love to use their fingers. Take advantage of this and create snacks that they can dunk in Sauce, Spreads or Salsa; Carrot Sticks, Cucumber, Peppers and Tomatoes are usually a hit in our house for doing this.
It is OK to be imaginative when serving Fruit and Vegetables; if you can make them seem ‘fun’ and then your child is more likely to eat them.
Cooking can be fun!
Children love to be faced with responsibility; especially when they think that they are doing an ‘Adult’ task.
With supervision, and child friendly equipment, include your child in cooking. Find ways to change a ‘regular’ food and experiment together; if, for example, you are used to adding Peppers to dishes then find a recipe where you can stuff or roast them. Child participation, combined with an ‘experiment’, will engage them to talk about what they are making and be motivated into eating something that they’ve created!
I try to buy fresh produce as often as I can; I am aware that this can be costly but don’t worry.
It doesn’t have to be expensive; you can keep the costs down by buying canned fruit and veg. I would suggest trying and choosing canned fruit in its own juice or canned veg in water with no added salt or sugar. These options are always easier because they have a longer expiry life. Frozen is even easier, as you can use what you need and put it back in to the freezer!
Consider where you are buying your fruit and veg; it is usually cheaper when bought in season or try to visit local markets as they can be great places to pick up fresh produce at really good prices.
I try now to use as many of these tips into my daily routine when feeding my children; I still do dinners where I cram as many options in as possible but in doing so I also know that they have eaten more than their 5-a-day.