It can be hard to find the time to feed our kids (and ourselves!) wholesome foods. With so many competing priorities, it’s easy to succumb to the lure of processed foods and less-than-ideal choices.
Try these 7 time-saving tips to increase the amount of whole foods in your family’s diet.
1. Go Raw
Many vegetables make wonderful snacks in raw form. Think “crudite,” and serve sliced cucumbers, carrot sticks, snow or snap peas, bell pepper strips, sliced mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli florets along with lunch or dinner. No time for chopping? Splurge on the pre-cut and pre-washed versions in the produce department of your grocery store.
2. Make in Bulk
For foods that require more prep than simply washing and chopping, make in bulk to save time. Open my fridge right now, and you’ll find cooked oatmeal that will last me three or four days, cooked french lentils, edamame, and roasted sweet potatoes and okra (finger foods for my kids; salad toppings for me). Like eggs? Hard boil a bunch and have them at the ready for any meal or a snack. My kids also don’t mind eating omelettes from the fridge or reheated in the microwave. And each time I make dinner, I try to make at least enough for two meals.
3. Freeze It
Some things you can REALLY stock up on and freeze for later consumption. About a month ago I made a large batch of mini banana muffins (keep reading for the recipe!) for my daughters, stashing a handful in the fridge while putting the majority in the freezer. They each eat one almost daily, but only now is the supply dwindling. I do the same thing with pancakes, making them silver-dollar sized for the kids.
4. Buy Frozen Veggies
Frozen veggies can be a huge time saver because they are often pre-washed and pre-cut. They’re also great during the winter months when most veggies are out of season. Go-to’s around my house include frozen broccoli, french green beans, peas, cauliflower, and corn. Keep it really simple by opening the bag, dumping a serving in a bowl, and microwaving. If you have a fussy eater, melt a little cheese on top. Kids seem to learn at a very young age that just about everything tastes better with cheese!
5. Behold the Avocado
Remember those lentils I have hanging out in my fridge? They can be a pain to feed my 20-month old – she likes to feed herself, but she’s kind of a slob. I circumvent this problem by mashing some avocado in a bowl and mixing in the lentils, so it all sticks together. I use the same strategy with other grains, such as rice, barley, and farro. This is a total win-win in my book – I make my life easier AND give my daughter a heart-healthy fat. Avocado also belongs in the “Go Raw” category – just slice and serve!
6. Say “No” to Special Meals
Kids can be picky eaters, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of making them special meals. Seriously, who has time for that? To the extent possible, try to make healthy meals for the whole family. You’ll save time, and everyone will eat better. It’s best to start this from day 1, when your babies are just starting on solid foods.
7. Go Nuts
Assuming you don’t have nut allergies in your house, toss nuts in your bag rather than goldfish crackers when packing your on-the-go snack. Nut butters are also healthy and versatile. Blend them into yogurt or oatmeal, or use them as a dip for apples.
Oh and remember those banana muffins? In my world they are super health foods that masquerade as a treat (yes, I sort of brainwash my kids). I modify this recipe, cutting out the honey and substituting coconut oil for palm shortening. If you use a mini muffin pan as I do, they bake in 10-15 minutes.