Posted by Joe Wicks in Recipes, Wellbeing
Healthy meal prep can be tricky when you've got kids. The idea that you might all one day happily sit down for the same healthy meal - containing at least some vegetables - can seem like a distant dream. That's where getting your child involved and making food prep fun can have amazing results.
Firing up their food imagination and working as team can not only help you all eat healthily but it can also bring the family together for some quality time too.
But how do you get the kids on board? We asked mum and mealtime survival specialist, Natalie Roberts, to share her tips for making meal prep fun for the family.
By freelance contributor, Natalie Roberts
Involve them in the decision making process
If you want to prep like a boss you need to plan ahead. So why not invite your kids to help decide what should be on the menu for the week?
Spend some time together looking through some tasty recipes and select a few meals and snacks that look like fun to make together.
If you involve them in the decision making process – and the cooking – they'll be more fired up about what's going to hit their plate come dinner time. And even though there might still be recipes your child isn't the biggest fan of when it's time to eat, at least they'll be more likely to try them before they demand more fish fingers.
Try a game of meal prep bingo
After deciding which recipes you're going to make together, it's time to get your kids excited about trying new foods, including (the sometimes dreaded) fruit and veg. One way to do this is to play a game of meal prep bingo.
Draw six boxes on a piece of paper, then write 'one portion of veggies' in three boxes, 'one portion of fruit' in two boxes and 'one handful of nuts' in the final box. You can obviously make more boxes if you want to and change up the food groups.
Your kids can then go through the ingredients for the meals and snacks you're about to make checking that each day's bingo card will be complete. If any of the boxes aren't ticked you can both decide on another healthy snack to include for that day.
Challenge them to eat the rainbow
If you fancy taking some time to create your own recipes together instead of following anyone else's, start out by challenging your children to include one vegetable for each colour of the rainbow. Show them there's more to the veggie aisle than just 'green stuff'.
Then figure out what would work well using the ingredients they've chosen. Your kids will probably need a little help to pick the foods that work best together, but be as relaxed as you can about this so it stays fun.
If you get stuck, a tray of oven roasted veggies or a stir fry are two pretty good meals you can throw loads of different veggies in.
It's time to start prepping like a boss
Though cooking with young children can make healthy meal prep take a little longer, try to think of it the same way you would spending the afternoon baking with them. It's quality time together and you're teaching them a valuable life skill.
If your child is too young to use some kitchen equipment you can always ask them to weigh out ingredients, or select the veggies from the fridge. They could be the 'designated stirrer', or they could be in charge of making sure each meal prep tub has the same amount of food put into it, it's all good as long as you're supervising them.
Get creative together
Let your creativity flow. If your kids love music, ask them to create a playlist of their favourite songs in advance, then play it while you're cooking together. Or if your children like dressing up, buy a mini chef hat and apron for them - you could get one for each member of the family so you can all get in the chef zone.
Also remember that children enjoy making a mess. Give them the freedom to play with the ingredients and get to know different tastes and textures. Trying the new foods with this relaxed approach will seem much more exciting than just being repeatedly told to eat their greens at the table.
Make it a family thing
Once you figure out which meals are most popular with your family, you'll be able to create a list of healthy meal prep recipes to make regularly. And with everyone getting suck into the nutritious food it'll be easier for you to stick to the plan too.
You could even bring the fun to the dinner table and challenge any of the family members who didn't take part in the preparation to guess all of the ingredients used.
Getting the whole family involved, should make the challenge of getting kids to eat healthy far less stressful, but you'll all be spending quality time together in the process and you'll make meal prep something to look forward to.
About Joe Wicks
Joe Wicks is the online nutrition coach inspiring people all over the world to cook with his #Leanin15 video meals on Instagram. He is also transforming the lives of thousands of people with his tailored online nutrition plan, The 90 Day Shift, Shape & Sustain plan.
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