Teach Your Kids Good Food Habits
Our friend Sara is the gracious guru behind the Go Gingham blog. She and her husband have managed to raise a couple of kids who have a real affinity for cooking and eating healthy, delicious foods (nary a Dorito in sight!), which is no mean feat — so for Earth Month, we asked her to share some of their strategies for teaching their kids to love really good foods. Making every cart count for the Earth is also about making healthy food count for your family. It’s doable, honest. Here’s Sara’s take…
My goal was to teach good food habits to my son and daughter, but I also wanted to teach them how to cook. So I followed some simple principles as consistently as I could from the time they were small. Once the kids became proficient in the kitchen, their knowledge led to something else that I hadn’t bargained for: their gratitude.
- Start early – Introduce wholesome foods that lay the groundwork for healthy eating. Don’t shy away from foods that might be considered “grown up.” If your child is interested, let them try.
- Lead – Set a good example of healthy eating yourself. Our kids see everything we do and mimic our habits (good and bad). When your healthy lifestyle includes good food and exercise, your kids will learn to do the same.
- Control – Shop for groceries with a plan. If you don’t want sodas and junk foods at home, don’t buy them.
- Be ready – Have healthy snacks ready when hunger strikes. Keep cut-up vegetables and fresh fruit handy, and your kids will reach for those when they’re hungry. Make enough for packing lunches, too!
- Cook – Let your kids “help” in the kitchen when they’re young, counting beans and scooping flour, and you’ve started a natural progression. As they get older, have them make lunch for the family on the weekend, then work up to a weeknight dinner. Our kids have even taught their friends to cook when they come to our house!
- Avoid the “Kids’ Menu” – At restaurants, skip the chicken tenders & applesauce and ask for smaller portions of regular entrées instead. My kids refused to order from the kids’ menu and would tell the waiter, “I’d like what she’s having.”
Now both my kids cook one night a week — and clean up afterward — which gives me a night off in the kitchen. Not only do they know how to cook wholesome, healthy foods for themselves, they’ve developed an appreciation for my cooking that’s been an added parental pleasure!
Sara Tetreault is the creator of Go Gingham - Stylishly Frugal Living, a great source of inspiring tips, tricks and techniques to save money, resources and time. Find her on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.