By Marshall O'Brien, written for Produce for Kids
With summer approaching (hopefully), it’s a great time to empower your children to connect with food. One way you can do this is by showing your kids how to make their own “grab and go” snacks. With this exercise, they’ll become more engaged with what they are eating, and learn about appropriate portion sizes.
To start, get the following items:
Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables – pineapple, stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums), watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, strawberries, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, rainbow peppers, cherry and grape tomatoes.
Cheese (as a block) – mozzarella (or string cheese) – cheddar, whatever your children enjoy.
Nuts and dried fruit – walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, apricots, figs, raisins, cranberries.
Dips – nut butters, dressings, yogurt, hummus.
Sandwich wraps – try turkey with guacamole, or chicken with hummus. Just roll up, cut into two/three bite pieces. These are very simple and will hold up in the refrigerator for a couple days.
Measuring cups – two ½ cup scoops for vegetables and fruits, and two ¼ cup scoops for cheese bites and nuts.
Assorted airtight containers – gallon size (doesn’t have to be exact, at least a large size) airtight containers or zip lock baggies, small single portion sized containers for dips, and small containers or small baggies for carrying snacks.
Have your kids help you wash the produce and then cut them up into bite-sized pieces. Organize items separately in containers; fruit, veggies, cheeses, nuts, dips, sandwiches, etc. Refrigerate items as needed. Then show them how they can choose what snacks they want to take and how much to portion out of each, using the scoops (one scoop equals a serving). Give them parameters, for example “pick two fruits, two vegetables, one cheese, one dip, and one sandwich.” At the end of the day, whether they know it or not, they will have experienced and learned new found prepping skills, and a heightened curiosity of what they’re eating.
If you want your kids to be aware of what they’re putting in their mouths, it’s vital that they know what they’re eating and how it’s made. This is an easy and intuitive way to build that process. As they help you organize and prep these snacks, chances are they’ll become more curious and invested in what they’re eating. Of course this is just one piece of the big food puzzle, but it’s an important one. As a result, they’ll soon start getting more excited about what they eat, and will look forward to that time they get to share with family.