If that title caught your attention, I am glad you are continuing to read. As you read look for a message about how Santa is involved!
This is indeed happening in many families. Kids are helping with the meal planning. They are having fun and eating healthier meals ~ making for some pretty happy moms and dads of kids who were picky eaters.
Imagine kids thinking they are going to be in control of deciding what the family eats! Some kids are already in control of their own diet, the very picky eaters. This may not be the diet you wished they would have. However, if they will only eat a limited number of foods, then they kind of have you supporting their plan as you are likely concerned about how little they eat. If their desired menu is a very limited number of foods then most parents, understandably, would have those foods available on demand. Now these children are pretty smart really, they have figured out how to be in control of their food choices and it looks to them like you think it’s a great plan too.
How many parents don’t have struggles with their kids, as young as toddlers over who is going to be in control? That’s such a big part of growing and discovering who they are. Many discover at a very young age that they can gain control with food choices. Since they want to be in control of their food choices (don’t we all) then maybe we can work with them and have a bit more input! Why not work this out as a family. Plan meals together. Of course the persons purchasing the foods are really in control right.
So you as the parent will want to present some more options but where do you start? Don’t re-invent the wheel, so to speak; a good guide to use would be the Canada’s Food Guide (get a copy http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/order-commander/index-eng.php ) Your children may already be familiar with it since many have seen it in school. Take a look at the food guide together. Discuss the four food groups. Using the guide, brainstorm a list of foods for each food group maybe even listing them on paper of the matching colors of the food groups. Look at what the guide recommends that each person eats every day, based on their age. Each person could put down a number(in 4 colors) indicating how many servings of each food group they need to eat every day.
Begin by planning the evening family meal together, later on you will be planning a day’s meals together, then perhaps the whole week! The youngest should start because they have the fewest servings, others can add more to theirs as needed. The idea will be that everyone has basically the same meal, especially the family evening meal. To ensure more variety, you can take turns picking the main foods for the meal; each choosing something different or at least coming to an agreement on choices. Pick one person to do the recording for the meals. This will be your plan for the day and maybe later be used to make up your grocery list.
You may want to start by purchasing the foods ahead of time; presenting what you have for the available choices. You can gradually work up to the family planning the grocery list. We know that the more actively involved people are in the process, the more apt they are to buy into the plan. Allowing the kids to make the choices based on the selection you present and Canada’s Food Guide recommendations puts them in control.
Here are a few of the many benefits of this plan:
1) Kids are more likely to want to follow the guide than what parents suggest
2) you’re teaching your children the basics of good nutrition, the lesson plan done for you
3) you are encouraging them to make healthy choices
4) the kids are learning skills for a lifetime of healthy eating
5) a picky eater will eat a more varied diet
6) an overweight child will be eating healthier and perhaps less.
Expanding on the theory that the more involved the kids are the better, think of other ways to get them involved. Take them shopping and give the older children part of the list and a shopping cart. Let the younger ones help you pick the foods and place them in the cart.
If time allows, make it a real learning time for toddlers. You can be developing language concepts with names of foods, colors, numbers, sizes, and shapes as well as getting them to listen and follow directions.
When you get home from shopping get the kids to help put foods away. If you have a little one who likes water play, keep them busy at the sink washing fruit or veggies.
Do you plant a garden in the summer? Get the kids involved with garden preparation, planting, watering, weeding and picking their vegetables!
Involve them in the meal preparation when possible too. There are so many opportunities to teach them very necessary life skills they are not likely to learn anywhere else than from family. It’s never too early to begin teaching kids.
If the title caught your attention, I am glad you continued to read and I hope you will be able to Let The Kids Do The Meal Planning ~ at least help with it!
Get a ready made meal planner for kids to use, The Eating Game. Invented for a child who named it a “game” because it is fun! Kids have fun planning healthy meals and snacks every day ~ it doesn’t get much better than that!
hohoho! Santa has suggested he would like to see a Christmas Special. When you order a MIY Eating Game Kit* www.theeatinggame.ca we will give you 2 FREE Eater’s Choice Daily Meal Planners. After you place your order email firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us what meal planners you want (choice of 8 from ages 4 – 51+).
Looking forward to hearing from you very soon!
*a kit with everything you need to assemble your own Eating Game – just add the velcro and cut up the pictures and you are ready to go