Lunch Ideas for Kids
Coming up with creative healthy snacks may be relatively easy but what about healthy meals, how can a parent come up with a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas that all their children will enjoy.
As well as healthy recipes, what are the recommended daily fruit and vegetable allowances and how can you incorporate these into your children’s menus?
Ideas for Easy Healthy Breakfast for Kids
Brainy Breakfast Taco
Appeal to your kid’s natural love of tacos by filling one with scrambled egg, chopped tomato, a bit of chorizo sausage and topping it with low-fat cheese.
- First, chop up the chorizo in tiny bits and then fry them until they become a bit like bacon.
- Then add the chopped up tomato and the eggs and perhaps a bit of cream if you like.
- Put it all in the tacos, sprinkling the top with grated cheese
- Put the tacos with their content in a preheated oven – don’t leave them there for more than a few minutes tops. And then, that’s it!
I’ll admit they do look kind of ‘fat’ but they are really delicious and have lots of healthy proteins. My son loves them and the tomatoes just give them that bit of freshness needed.
This breakfast is better for older children, who are able to feed themselves appropriately. Not only is this a healthy breakfast, but the egg is also one of the recognized “brain foods” – ideal for little people heading out to school.
While the scrambled eggs do take time to make if your children are old enough encourage them to make their own, as I do with my own son.
Easy Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
According to the University of Illinois, most children are ready for a snack around 11.00 am.
This means, ideally you should aim to give your children lunch around 1 pm.
Use the healthy snacks for kids recipes to ensure their mid-morning snacks contains some of their daily vegetable allowances and you will have a little more leeway when it comes to healthy lunch ideas.
Hot Potato Halves- Healthy Lunch Recipes for Kids
A simple, medium-sized potato baked in the microwave or oven depending on your time allowance and top with creme fraiche and salsa. Yum!
You can choose to cut them in half before or after they go in the oven. The advantage of doing it after is that it will be easier for your kids to press down the spoon into the potato – the downside, well, it takes longer to bake in the oven.
This snack was surprisingly delicious. My son said they looked sort of okay, but tasted MUCH better than they looked. We used a medium-hot salsa which worked fine because of the creme fraiche to take to the top of the spiciness.
I usually put a small salad together for my older children, usually lettuce, tomatoes, and shredded carrots depending on what they have had for their snack.
Tasty Cheesy Apricots – Healthy Lunches for Kids
This easy recipe calls for fresh, not tinned, apricot halves that you can fill with either cottage cheese or low-fat cream cheese.
If your children are not cheese lovers, you can fill the apricots with soft tofu or hummus.
My son LOVES this easy healthy snack idea, I cut the apricots and cheese into bite-size pieces so he can feed himself.
After lunch offers your child a yogurt or a piece of fruit to round off their meal and get more of their recommended allowance into their diet.
Easy Healthy Dinner Ideas for Kids – That Dad will
When it comes to encouraging your kids to eat healthily, the best role models you will find are you and your partner.
Children love to mimic their parents, as anyone who has had a toddler repeat that really a naughty word in the middle of a busy shopping center can testify.
If you don’t eat healthily, it won’t matter how many healthy snacks you try, they will only want to eat what you do.
Therefore, when it comes to the family’s main meal of the day – dinner, it is important to find something healthy that the whole family can sit down and enjoy together.
Good Old-Fashioned Meatballs and Spaghetti as
Healthy Eating for Kids
Most people will be familiar with meatballs and while in ordinary circumstances it isn’t the healthiest meal – there are ways around this.
Firstly, it is essential you use the leanest ground beef you can find. I also use bulger wheat to bulk out the meat and get more for my money.
Rather than fry off your meatballs, bake them in a medium-heat oven for 20 minutes or until they have browned.
Cover with your desired tomato sauce and bake in an ovenproof dish for an hour before serving with spaghetti.
This healthy dinner recipe is easy to make and is a firm favorite with my whole family. Adding bell peppers, courgette and carrot to your tomato sauce is also a sneaky way of upping your child’s intake of vegetables.
If your children are not necessarily meat lovers, don’t miss out on the opportunity to use yummy tomato spaghetti sauce to hide those vegetables. Simply serve without the meatballs for an equally tasty, twice as healthy dish.
Tips for Busy Parents Who Want to be Healthy
- Meal Plans – Sit down every Sunday evening and make a week’s worth of meal plans for your children and family as a whole. Include healthy snack ideas and have a calendar on hand so you can ensure the really easy healthy snack recipes are reserved for your family’s busiest days. Not only will this help you stay organized throughout the week, but it will also cut down on the amount of food you waste.
- Prepare in advance – Most of the healthy quick snacks for kids I have included here and in other parts of my website can be prepared in advance. Making batches of snacks when you have time and keeping them refrigerated or frozen means they can be eaten on days when you may be struggling for time.
- Don’t take the kids shopping – According to the University of Illinois, parents are more likely to pick up unhealthy snacks and foods for their kids if they have them with them when they are grocery shopping. Instead, order your shopping online or go to the store at a time when you can leave the children at home.
- Learn to negotiate – If you are having problems getting your children to accept the healthy snacks ideas, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Offer them one piece of candy, if they agree to have an apple with their lunch or if they accept healthy snacks for the rest of the week. Your success will vary, but most children will respond well to new ideas if they feel they have had some kind of choice in the matter.
- Don’t give up – When trying new healthy snacks for kids, don’t throw in the towel if your child refuses to eat it the first time they try. According to the Westmead Hospital, most children take at least ten tries of a new food before deciding whether it is for them. That means that, while those kale chips were a washout on the first attempt they could become a firm family favorite in no time.
Why Healthy Snacks for Kids are So Important
Healthy snacks for kids, especially younger ones, help them get through the long periods in between meals without getting hungry.
As well as preventing them from feeling grumpy, they will also feel more alert, more energetic and will generally engage with others better on a full stomach as opposed to an empty one.
The University is quick to remind parents that any snacks they do prepare for their kids should concentrate on nutritional value and should also take into consideration the child’s overall calorie intake.
So in order to keep snacks healthy, it is important that snacks are organized wisely, so they don’t interfere with your child’s natural appetite.
Science Says that Unhealthy Snacks Are Closely Linked to Obesity
As parents, we all share a common goal to keep our kids happy, healthy and, most of the time, quiet! 😉
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always go hand in hand with healthy eating, as many people will admit to letting their kids eat unhealthy snacks to make them happy or placate them.
I have been there, the magical lollipop at the grocery store checkout or the packet of chips in the car on the way home from school.
According to the Kids Health website, unhealthy snacks are a major contributor to obesity in young children.
This means the snacks you choose for your children are more important than you may realize.
Of course, it would be unfair and inaccurate to lay the blame of obesity in children squarely at the door of snacks, it is important you consider your child’s diet as a whole when offering them different things to eat.
Seeking out healthy recipes for your kids may take more planning and organization than relying on convenience or fast foods but the health benefits are more than worth it.
In fact, experts believe that healthy eating as a child can dramatically affect a person’s health as an adult.
Long Term Effects of Encouraging Your Kids to Eat Healthy Snacks and Meals include:
- Maintaining a Low Cholesterol Level – While many places high cholesterol as being an adult problem, more and more children are suffering from increased cholesterol levels. Eating healthy helps keep their cholesterol at a manageable, normal level.
- Avoiding Weight Gain – Healthy snacks for kids help a child maintain a healthy weight, therefore avoiding obesity. Scientific studies have found that children who suffer from weight issues as a child are more likely to suffer from obesity as an adult. This can lead to chronic illness, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Poor Diets Affect Cognitive and Psychological Abilities Not only are children who have unhealthy diets likely to have poor immune systems, but there is also evidence to suggest that children who have poor diets are likely to fall behind at school, suffer from depression and go on to have relationship problems.
My Eye Opener: The Experts Say “The Problem Isn’t the Meals but the Unhealthy Snacks In Between!”
With today’s dire economic climate, more and more parents are working outside of the home. This means less time in the family home and, like a domino effect, less time to concentrate on issues such as healthy eating.
I mean, as long as your kids are not eating burgers and fries every evening that’s okay right?
To a certain extent yes, I understand more than most how difficult it is to ensure your children, and the family as a whole eat healthily.
However, statistics referred to by the Kids Health website seem to reveal that it isn’t the actual meals children eat that are the heart of the problem, but rather the snacks they eat in between that are a cause for concern.
So what can we as parents do, when a lot of the time we are busy trying to ensure the bills are paid and the family is kept happy and healthy?
Easy snacks for kids do not have to be time-consuming, they most certainly do not require you to toil away in the kitchen for hours.
In fact, many of the recipes I have found about healthy snacks for kids and put together here can be prepared in advance – meaning older children can just help themselves.
A Fresh Start
If you believe that your child’s diet has been less than impressive up to now, it is never too late to change.
In fact, the older your child, the abler you are to convince them of the major health benefits of watching what you eat.
Older children can also be involved in choosing the types of foods they eat, you can even challenge them to find the healthiest easy snack recipes.
Most parents will turn to fast foods or convenience meals when time is stretched or finances are restricted but if you look at the healthy snacks for kids I have on my website, along with the advice I have researched and provided you can make permanent changes for the better.