It’s one of the most hectic weeks of the year, especially for our busy 8fit parents. The kids are back at school, and you’re back at work with summer getaways a thing of the past. Everyone’s trying to cope as best they can and, as a parent, you’re managing the chaos as best you can.
Whether we like it or not, life’s responsibilities are getting in the way of us staying on top of everything. So, is it really fair to expect you to come up with creative, yummy and healthy kids’ lunches day after day? 100%, yes! This is because 8fit is here to provide you with nutrition and meal support while you take care of everything else — it’s what we love to do.
Let us be that shoulder to lean on when things get tough and remind you that you can do anything!
How to encourage healthy eating habits for kids
Apart from cooking them nutritious meals, there are many ways you can promote healthy eating habits for kids when it comes to food. What you provide them with will, of course, shape the way their taste buds develop, but there are a few additional tricks to make sure your children will reap long-term benefits from your food education.
So before we share our handpicked recipes with you, let’s have a look at some ways to encourage healthy eating habits for kids from the get-go.
Focus on whole foods
Put the focus on an overall healthy diet, rather than obsessing about specific foods. The aim is to get kids to eat more natural and whole foods and to steer them clear of processed foods as much as possible. The less packaging in your shopping cart, the better.
Act as a role model
If you’re a parent, then you know it already: children are more easily influenced than adults, and their instinct to imitate those close to them is great. That’s why, if you encourage your little ones to eat more colorful veggies, it’s crucial that you practice what you preach.
Spike meals with healthy foods
Ideally, you want your children to become accustomed to healthy ingredients in their purest form; allowing them to appreciate the foods in all their glory. That said, some flavors can take some getting used to. So when you’re looking to have a stress-free dinner, turn your veggies into secret agents undercover. Add them to stews, cover them in a tasty dressing, make carrot or beet mash or serve fruit with a sweet coating or dip.
Cook more at home
We know that after a long day, some people find it pretty tiring to cook even a simple meal at home, but home cooking has so many advantages over restaurant and takeout meals. Even if a meal you ordered seems healthy, you don’t 100% know what’s in there; there could be an unnecessary amount of unhealthy fats or sugars. Cook at home and in large batches instead, it’s worth it. Start meal prepping in advance and feed your family for the entire week. This will solve a lot of those (food-related) worries!
Get the kids involved
Children are curious little things, and they love copying what you’re doing. It makes them feel grown-up and strengthens their bond with you. By allowing them to be in the kitchen while you’re cooking, and by giving them small tasks to do during the prep, you’ll be teaching them some invaluable skills. They’ll feel a sense of purpose and will enjoy helping you and you’ll end up opening their eyes to so many different (healthy) foods.
Stock up on healthy snacks
For those times when you’re running behind schedule, be sure to keep plenty of fruit, veg and healthy drinks (water, smoothies, milk or milk alternatives) in the kitchen. If they’re readily available, it’s easy for the kids to grab on the go and helps them avoid turning to more processed foods like candy, cookies, and chips. Funnily enough, the less prep a food needs, the healthier usually it is.
Keep your cool
If your child isn’t hungry anymore, try not to insist on them cleaning their plate – this may have an effect on them later in life. If they feel relaxed around food and around you, they’ll listen to their bodies more and do what feels natural. Using food as a reward or bribe can be equally detrimental. The best is to let them be in control of their plate and set a good example with yours.
Healthy lunch for kids
It’s crunch time! You’ve had an insight into some tips you can easily slip into your everyday routine, now let’s get to practice. Here are six healthy kids’ lunch ideas that are sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. Simply search for them in your 8fit Recipe Book.
Mushroom & ham fritter
These heavenly little bites are packed with cottage cheese, eggs, mushrooms, and ham. The arugula can also be chopped up and added to the fritters to make life easier. The recipe mentions crisping up the parmesan in the pan to form a basket around the fritters, but you can skip that step if you’re in a rush. Same with the additional cream topping, leave it out for a more kid-friendly version.
Another one of our healthy kids’ lunch ideas involves pasta because you can’t go wrong with pasta! This version calls for just six basic ingredients that you probably already have at home. It’s got two types of cheese (are you sold already?) and juicy tomatoes and wholesome broccoli, all stirred together into one hearty dish they won’t want to put down.
Garlic chicken with beet mash & wilted spinach
For the more gourmet parents amongst us, this recipe is the perfect way to elevate the humble chicken and mash potatoes for the entire family. Kids will love the pink mash, and grown-ups will enjoy how fancy it looks. Plus it’s super convenient to make: boil the root veggies, bake the chicken and wilt the spinach.
Sweetcorn, chicken & mozzarella pizza
We don’t know any kid that doesn’t love pizza, right? Especially if it’s colorful and super easy to make – just 15 minutes in the kitchen and you’re done. All you need are whole grain tortillas, cooked chicken, sweetcorn, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cheese. Use last night’s leftover chicken instead of preparing it from scratch, to cut down on time.
Classic beef lasagne
Kids will really enjoy lending a helping hand to assemble this easy peasy lasagne. It’s a paired down version that still contains all the goods: minced beef, tomato sauce, onion, basil, and gruyère cheese. Make a big batch of it and enjoy it for multiple meals ahead. It’s also easy to freeze and thaw whenever the occasion arises again.
Portobello mushrooms with mozzarella
It’s not just about being a healthy lunch for kids, it also has to taste good too! And anything stuffed with cheese is a sure-fire hit when it comes to kids. Spoon mozzarella, basil and tomato sauce are into yummy mushrooms, while chopped-up dates are added for that sweetness children will love. The practical Portobellos are perfect for portioning and are super handy to eat at school.