Providing kids with healthy and delicious foods can be challenging as a parent or caretaker. However, with the help of a few easy tips, you can make a healthy meal plan for kids that they’ll love.
Today, we’ll discuss why kids need to eat nutritious meals and offer suggestions to help you out in the kitchen.
The Benefits of Meal Plans For Kids
Well-rounded children’s diet plans have several benefits, including lowering the likelihood of acquiring chronic diseases, promoting healthy weight maintenance, and improving cognitive function. Here are five reasons your kids’ diet plan should be balanced and nutritious:
1. Fueling their Growth
Your child will be healthy and strong if you provide them with the nutrients they need in a well-balanced diet. This covers the macronutrients and micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and carbs.
2. Keeping a Healthy Weight
Your child can avoid health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure by eating a healthy diet.
3. Staying Energized
Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will provide your child with abundant sustained energy for a day filled with learning and play.
4. Boosting their Brainpower
Your child’s memory, focus, and problem-solving abilities can all benefit from a balanced diet.
5. Building a Stronger Immune System
Eating well can reduce the likelihood of your kid falling ill and help build a stronger immune system.
If you need more help understanding what’s needed for a healthy diet, the USDA has created a handbook that covers guidelines for infants all the way up to a balanced diet chart for a 10-year-old child.
How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for Kids
Before we cover what a diet plan for kids entails, let’s first discuss the basics of a balanced diet.
Typically, the recommended daily intake of calories for children is equivalent to three full meals plus two snacks. While this is only a general guideline, every kid is different, and the specifics of their needs may change with age and activity level. After all, it isn’t a stretch to assume that a 10-year-old diet plan is the same as a meal plan for 5-year-old kids.
In fact, an active preschooler may only need around 1200 calories per day, whereas a growing teenager may need over a staggering 3000 calories per day to get through a day of school and sports.
Thankfully, the USDA has a healthy food chart for kids with a diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, and low-fat dairy recommended for children ages 2 to 18.
Additionally, reducing the number of sugary and high-fat meals they have will help your diet plan be even more beneficial to their health.
However, to give you a head start on your kid’s diet planner, here are five tips you can incorporate today:
Tip 1: Make it a Family Affair
Involve your kids in meal planning by asking them to help choose recipes, buy ingredients, and prepare meals. This not only allows them to learn about healthy food choices, but it also makes mealtime more enjoyable for everyone.
A homemade pizza is a great meal that families with small children can prep together. It’s fun and delicious. It also allows kids to get creative with toppings and learn about healthy ingredients while they help with the preparation.
To make a homemade pizza:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Spread tomato sauce on the pizza crust, leaving a small border around the edge of the crust.
- Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese and diced vegetables. Toss on some chicken, turkey, or even tofu.
- Finally, drizzle olive oil over the toppings and sprinkle Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to add the extra touch.
Place your pizza in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is nice and gooey. Let the pizza cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Not only is it scrumptious, but it’s a great way to make mealtime fun and interactive for the whole family.
Tip 2: Focus on Whole Foods
Whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, are packed with essential nutrients and provide long-lasting energy.
A whole food snack like homemade granola bars is a yummy way to fuel your body and boost energy during the day. They’re super easy to make and packed with nutritious ingredients like oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.
To make them, you need to mix 2 cups of old-fashioned oats, 1 cup of mixed nuts and seeds, 1/2 cup of honey or maple syrup, 1/4 cup of coconut oil, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix until everything is well combined and starts to stick together. Then fold in 1/2 cup of dried fruits like raisins, cranberries, or cherries.
Press the mixture into an 8×8 inch baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake it for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing it into bars, and store it in an airtight container for up to a week.
These homemade granola bars are perfect for snack time, balancing carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein to keep your little ones going.
Tip 3: Get Creative
Make mealtime fun by experimenting with different flavors and food combinations. Try new fruits and vegetables, and use herbs and spices to add flavor without adding salt or sugar.
If you’re on the hunt for a quick yet creative snack to add to your healthy meal plan for kids, then consider fruit skewers! They’re easy to make, fun to eat, and nutritious. You can use any fruit you like, like strawberries, blueberries, grapes, pineapple, and even kiwi pieces. You can also add some chunks of cheese to win over even the pickiest of kids.
Just thread the fruit and cheese on a skewer to make them, and you’re good to go! You can make it more fun by letting the kids choose how to make their skewers.
Tip 4: Plan Ahead
Meal planning can save you time and stress during the week. And by planning your week, you can ensure that you always have healthy ingredients.
If you want to take some of the stress out of planning, raisins could be a great choice as a tasty and healthful snack for children. They are an all-natural dried fruit high in carbs and fiber and contain some beneficial micronutrients.
However, it’s important to note that raisins are also packed with a ton of natural sugar. Eat them with some nuts, cheese, or yogurt to balance the sugar.
Tip 5: Be Flexible
It’s essential to be flexible and go with the flow when it comes to a healthy meal plan for kids. Some days, your child may not be in the mood for a particular dish, and that’s okay. Have a few easy and healthy alternatives to ensure they’re still getting the nutrients they need.
Also, you want to remember your leftovers.
Leftovers can be a great way to make meal planning easy and save time. You can prepare a meal for the next day by cooking an extra portion.
One of the benefits of having leftovers as part of a healthy meal plan for kids is that it can help reduce food waste. Instead of throwing away extra food, you can store it for later. Also, leftovers can help save money by reducing the need to buy new ingredients daily.
Get Help with Healthy Meal Prep
If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be able to feed your children healthy meals that they’ll actually eat.
Providing your children with nutritious, tasty meals is one of the best ways you can help them succeed in life. We at Go Au Pair understand your hectic schedule and hope we can help you make healthy meal plans for your kids. With one of our trained au pairs, they can assist you with tasks like menu creation, grocery shopping, and meal preparation for children.
Contact us today to learn how an au pair can help your family grow healthy and strong!