{Guest Post} Don’t Forget The Vegetables!

I’m not sure what has sparked my recent interest in adding fruits and veggies to our menu this week but maybe it is my subconscious voice speaking to me. You see, there have been a lot more sweets creeping into our diets and they seem to be pushing out the healthy foods. With the holidays upon us it will be even more challenging to keep offering the healthy options. So when Amy of SuperHealthyKids contacted me about doing a guest post, I happily agreed! I know I sure can use all the help I can get on this front. Amy offers some great (and easy!) tips that will hopefully help you too. And to wrap things up, she provides some terrific suggestions on how to handle the holidays and continue healthy family eating habits.

Welcome Amy!

As you know, planning our meals is the best way to save money, time, and help our family eat better. However, how often are we forgetting to plan for the most important part of the meal, the fruits and vegetables? It’s easy to forget to plan for the fruits and veggies. When meal time is eminent, we see what’s in the fruit basket, or check our vegetable crisper to see if there is anything that hasn’t turned brown yet. This last minute approach to planning for the fruits and vegetables is a dangerous habit, as sometimes it leaves us without a vegetable at all!

The best way to ensure your family is eating enough fruits and vegetables for every meal are to add it to your meal plan. This is how we do it:

Check What Is In Season. Use your store ads to find what is seasonal and what is on sale. If you see there are great prices on cabbage, add coleslaw to your meal plan. If watermelon is down to 10 cents a pound, you can be pretty sure it is in season, and you can have watermelon salsa with your chicken.

Incorporate Vegetables Into Already Planned Dishes. If spaghetti is on your meal plan, make sure you buy some carrots and mushrooms to add to the sauce. If you are having tacos, don’t forget to add tomatoes, lettuce, and avocado to your shopping list.

Prep Your Vegetables In the Morning! When you know what vegetables you are going to serve for dinner, you can get them ready in the morning. This practice alone has helped me put vegetables on the table at night more than any other tip. If we are going to be having salad, I will wash and chop the lettuce in the morning. If I know we’ll have stir fry, I get the broccoli, onions, and carrots all chopped and put in a bowl, ready to throw on the skillet.

Stock Up On Frozen Vegetable Kits. We always have bags of frozen vegetables. As we plan our meals, I consider what vegetable kits are already put together for me. The corn and peas frozen bag is great for chicken pot pie. The stir fry kits are great for exactly that–stir fry. Even the frozen bags of chopped potatoes are a great meal extender for a quiche.

Healthy Holidays. As the holidays are approaching, making sure your family gets at least five fruits and vegetables a day will be vital. With all the goodie plates, classroom parties, and holiday get-togethers, the sugar consumption goes way up the next two months. If you are getting the produce in at least 80% of the time, then it’s okay for you and the kids to indulge on special occasions. Before going to parties, have a plate of salad at home. Before you send your kids to school on party days, fill them up with a fruit and vegetable smoothie for breakfast. And make sure those goodie plates from the neighbors are reserved for after you all fill up on a healthy meal. As you are planning meals for your family, don’t forget the most important aspect of their meal. Fruits and vegetables are meant to be the star of dinner, not the forgotten side!

Getting Started with the Breakfast Challenge {Giveaway Time!}

I hope you’ve been thinking about the Breakfast Challenge and planning to share your ideas for new breakfast options.

To help you get started, I’m offering some giveaways for the Coach’s Oats I talked about in last week’s Breakfast Challenge post. Ten readers will have the chance to win, so enter now and be sure to tell your friends too!

You can enter the giveaway a few different ways–just leave a comment for each entry. Be sure your email address is included or available on your profile so I can follow up if you are a winner.

Here’s how to enter:

1. Leave a comment with your favorite, healthy but quick and easy breakfast go-to.
2. Become a follower of my blog
3. Like Meal Planning Magic on Facebook
4. Email subscribe to my blog.
5. Blog about the giveaway and leave me a link to your post.
6. Update your Faceobook status with a link to this post.

Remember, leave a comment for each entry. This contest is now closed. Winners have been chosen using Random.org. Good luck!

But Are They "Growing" Foods?

One of the biggest complaints I hear from parents is that their children just do not eat a great variety of foods. I remember when my oldest child was a toddler and experimenting with new table foods. She was beginning to show more independence as to what was put on the table in front of her and learned how to say “no!” too. It was anybody’s guess whether she would try it or not. Actually, I’ve generally had good luck with my kids in trying new foods and I know they eat a lot more than the average kids their age. But how could I teach them what things are good for them and will help them grow and stay healthy and what things to only eat in moderation?

The answer was close by. When spending time with family, my sister-in-law would offer the kids their meal and explained that they needed to eat more of the growing foods and less of the others. What is a growing food? It’s pretty simple…it’s a food that helps them grow! Milk, fruits, veggies, whole-grain breads, etc.—those are growing foods. Chips, cookies, soda and candy—not so much growing foods! Did she deny them the non-growing foods? No. But did she let them load up on them? Certainly not. By reminding the kids what types of foods would help them grow and be healthy and also those that wouldn’t, she was laying the foundation to help help them begin to know on their own what kinds of food choices to make.

If you’re puzzled on how to get this concept through to your own children, I suggest a neat book called Good Enough To Eat. It helps explain what foods are good for kids and even bit about proteins, carbohydrates, etc. and how too much or too little can help or hurt our bodies and keep us feeling good!

Knowing what to pick and what not to pick will help you when your planning meals and snacks for your family. How about getting the kids involved and when you go to the grocery store have them play a game of “I Spy” to find the growing foods you will add to the cart for this week? Try adding something different each week.

To this day, we still talk about growing foods in our house. It’s a lifelong journey that will hopefully pay off in the end! How do you work growing foods into your family’s diet? How do you get your children to try new foods? And how do you teach them to make healthy food choices on their own? Share your ideas in the comments section below–we want to hear from YOU!