Today, contributor Rachel is telling us how she gets her son involved in meal planning. I love her system for meal planning with kids…there are some *great* ideas here!
With holidays and vacation over we are back to our school routines. It seems like a great time for me to share with you my interactive meal planning chart that I have been using with my son Clark, age 6.
I will start off by telling you that Clark is an extremely picky eater. Those of you with picky eaters, you will know the stress, aggravation and arguments that can ensue when trying to get your child to eat! It usual ends in tears… from the mother, lol.
Since we have been living a healthier lifestyle and using the 21 day fix portion control containers, we decided to take this school year to incorporate the same 21 day fix color coded system into menu planning with Clark.
Our hope was that this interactive color coded food system would help us to get Clark to eat more and make better choices. By using the color system, I can easily see that I have covered all of his nutritional needs for the day.
Our system is simple, effective and saves my sanity while encouraging Clark to make healthy, good choices. Our mornings AND evenings are less stressed and Clark is eating more of his meals because he “ordered” everything!
Allowing Clark to choose from the choices at each meal is so simple, its GENIUS! Each evening after dinner we erase that day’s choices and prep for the next day. Clark packs his lunch box and makes his choices by checking off which items (about 3 per meal/1 per snack) he would like the following day.
Giving children a choice (even though we have “staged” the choices) make them feel good about themselves, as well as their choices and most of the time we see a positive change in past behaviors. Since implementing this interactive menu we have seen such tremendous growth in Clark ability to choose foods carefully, try new foods and also finish all of his chosen foods.
Many people will say that this type of plan is too much work, that all children should eat what the parents are eating or what is offered.
My feeling is completely different, I do not want my child to spend his early years dwelling on food. I want him to be successful during his long days at school and have enough stamina to be the active happy boy he is. Making a few accommodations that allow him to flourish mentally and physically is what I need to do as a parent.
Here is our guide on our process!
Preparing Meal Choice Board:
First we took a plain white board and divided it in half.
(Half is used for my personal goals as well as our family meal plan for the week. We are BIG meal/food planners and this has helped us successfully lose a total of 150+ pounds together!)
Clark’s section of the board is divided up into 4 categories; breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner.
Under each division there are several choices of foods that are fully stocked in the refrigerator or pantry and are Clark and Mama approved.
Each food is written in a color that coincides with that particular food group (ie. red =protein, green= veggies, purple = fruits, blue (we didn’t have yellow)= carb).
We also made a little section with an activity of the day (he gets to choose, walk, park, library), his sleep time, and if he has homework.
Preparing for Meal Choice Board fixin’s:
On Sunday’s we have a routine of making sure that all of our meals, snacks and drinks are pre-planned and prepped for the week ahead. Making sure these tasks are complete really helps us to start our week on the right foot.
We wash and cut all fruits and veggies and place in sealed baggies so that they are ready to go! Why waste time during the week cutting and bagging items! We noticed that everyone eats healthier when fruit and veggies are ready to eat!
If offering eggs – make sure you have a dozen + eggs ready to go!
If offering chicken – make homemade nuggets and have ready for the lunch box (they keep well).
Place crackers in small snack baggies (3-5 is a good amount)
Place almond butter, peanut butter, cream cheese in small containers (they sell disposable ones at target) for easy access and child independency. If taking to school, offer a popsicle stick as a spreader!
If using cheese – cut up into cubes or slices and place in baggie.
Make sure you have wraps, breads, yogurts, granola etc ready on hand. Granola can be made ( there are several recipes on my blog). Purchasing breads and such on Sunday’s will help you to eliminate trips to the grocery store during the week.
Monday morning is not so difficult when things are organized and prepared in advance. Setting and following a routine goes a long way and reduces so much stress in our lives and helps to keep our family on this positive healthy path.
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