Did your mom tell you to eat your vegetables in order to grow up healthy and strong when you were little? She was right but there’s a bit more to that idea. For your kids, learning to eat healthy starts at home. Everyone should eat healthy meals as often as possible to ensure they’re getting the nutrients their bodies need to function at their best. Preparing homecooked meals encourages children to eat foods that are unprocessed and that don’t contain unhealthy amounts of sugar, salt, hormones, and other chemicals found in fast food. We’ve included some links below to help you with healthy, easy meal ideas.
Healthy eating habits and meals made at home have benefits for your family that extend beyond nutrition; some of those benefits are:
- Cooking teaches your children an important life skill
- Preparing meals at home gives your family more time to spend together
- Cooking healthy can be a great way for your whole family to get (or stay) in shape
- Cooking at home is a great way to save money
Healthy Eating & Cooking is a Life Skill
When your child is taught to prepare healthy meals at home, they are learning an important skill that they will need for the rest of their lives. Cooking at home teaches children about planning, patience, and preparation. It also can be a great way to gain math skills (counting, measuring, telling time, following directions). Cooking can also be used to teach important lessons on fire safety and the proper use of kitchen appliances.
What are the Benefits of Family Meals Together?
- Few things come close to experiencing quality time together as a family in the kitchen and mealtimes at the dinner table.
- Regular family meals help children gain confidence, improve their conversation skills, and learn good manners.
- Children who have regular meals at home are also more likely to have better relationships with their parents.
- Children who eat meals at home are less likely to be obese and more likely to stick to those healthy habits as adults.
Overeating fast food and keeping lots of unhealthy snacks in the home can lead to health problems for the whole family. Changing from meals and snacks that contain high levels of salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats is key and can easily be done at home in the kitchen. Studies have found that in comparison to fast food, even partially homecooked meals are more nutritious. That’s good news!
Another awesome advantage to healthy homecooked meals is that it saves money! Money management is another important skill that children can use for life. This can be done by allowing your child to meal plan and grocery shop with you. These meals can be made as needed or made in bulk and saved for later, which will make future meals easier to get on the table.
Simple Healthy Meal Ideas
Getting started in cooking healthy meals at home with your child doesn’t have to be complicated. Below is a list of easy meals that can be made any night of the week for the family to enjoy.
- Overnight Oats
- Avocado Toast
- Banana or Blueberry Pancakes with fruit
- Yogurt Parfait
- Egg and Vegetable Omelet
- Fruit and Vegetable Smoothies
- Sweet Potato Hash browns
- Simple Scrambled Eggs
- Salads (Greek, Caesar, Cobb)
- Veggie bowls
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Tomato Soup
- BLT’s With fruit Salad
- Chicken Soup
- Vegetable Chili
- Spaghetti and Meatballs (with veggie noodles)
- Grilled Chicken Salad
- Roasted Chicken with vegetables
- Loaded Baked Potatoes
- Oven-Fried Chicken Breasts with vegetables
- Turkey or Chicken Meatloaf
- Greek Yogurt (With or without nuts and fruit)
- Apples with Peanut Butter
- Home-popped Popcorn
- Muffins (Banana nut, Blueberry, Raspberry, etc.)
- Baked Sweet Potato Fries
- Trail Mix
- Kale Chips
- Hummus with carrots
- Fruit Smoothies
Here are two links to simple easy-to-make meal ideas: 29 Healthy Meals You Can Make in 10 Minutes or Less and 100+ Quick Healthy Dinners.
Family Time and Cooking Time Can Be the Same
The meals and snacks listed here are all nutritious and easy to make. Use your time cooking at home together to introduce your child to these amazing recipes. Opening your child up to different recipes can improve their health and make them less picky eaters. Taking the time to help your child develop healthy eating habits will put them on the right track to living healthy lives.