Top tips for making mealtimes more manageable during weekends, holidays, and celebrations.
If the inevitable disruption to your child’s food routines during school breaks has you stressed, we’ve got you covered! Here are Leela’s lunches top tips for making mealtimes more manageable during weekends, holidays and celebrations:
- Go with the flow: The kids are off school, of course everything is topsy turvy! There might be different foods in the house, more opportunity for snacking or meals served at unusual times of the day. All of this can affect your child’s appetite and throw your usual mealtime routine out the window. This is ok! Trust your child to know how much food they need. Pressuring your child to eat when they are not hungry can result in anxiety and stress for both of you, and usually means your child eats less, not more.
- Try and avoid constant grazing: Your child’s routine has been disrupted, and they could be comparatively bored/ inactive at home. It’s natural for them to want more snacks to fill up their time, but if possible, do try to stick to a routine of 2-3 hours between meals/ snacks to ensure they have properly digested and assimilated the previous food.
- No food should be a no-no: If your child is old enough to open the fridge, they may want to keep helping themselves to any carby/ sugary treats inside. To avoid this getting in the way of proper meals, de-glam these ‘forbidden foods’ by including a small portion of their preferred carby/ sugary treat along with the snack or the meal. Yes, this means preferably serving it at the same time. This may seem counter-intuitive, won’t they go crazy and fill up with only treat foods at mealtime? Here’s what pediatric nutritionists have to say:
- In fact, serving treats alongside the meal removes the focus from the treat food and takes it off a pedestal.
- It allows kids to choose the order they want to eat their food. It stops sweets being a reward for eating the meal.
- If you prefer to have dessert after the meal, please serve it regardless of how much your child has eaten. Don’t withhold it as that basically implies that the main meal isn’t appealing and it’s the pudding that’s the good stuff/ reward.
- The winning formula: Whether it’s the weekend or a school day, snacks and meals should include (in order of importance): veggies/ fruit + healthy carbs + protein + fat. If your children still want to grab stuff out of the fridge, ensure that there are only boring, simple, balanced snacks following this formula within their reach! You will be relieved to note that at Woo Hoo, our delicious children’s meals all follow this winning, healthy formula!
What a balanced plate for a toddler could look like: Baked chicken and bell pepper meatballs (protein and veg), Potato and cauliflower mash (more veg) cooked with grass fed butter and milk (healthy fats), and a small sampling of raw veg. If your child doesn’t like food touching serve this on a divided plate.
- Kidsinthekitchen: Holidays are the perfect time to get kids involved in the cooking! This also helps encourage them to expand their palates and try new textures and tastes. Check out the @Leelaslunches insta feed and highlights under the hash tag kidsinthekitchen for some quick, healthy recipes your kids will love.
- If assembly jobs are more your style (especially for parents of younger kids) we have two easter themed platter ideas for you to put together as a family:
Easter bunny salad platter:
Cucumber, cut into strips
Bell pepper, cut into strips
Celery sticks, cut into strips
Multigrain bread rolls
Blueberries or olives/ cherry tomatoes/ spring onion greens/ sliced onion/ celery pieces for garnish
Favorite dip or dressing, in a ramekin
Place the bagel in the center of a large platter. The bagel becomes the Easter bunny’s face, and the bread rolls are his ears. The kids place blueberries or olives for his eyes, cherry tomato for his nose, spring onion greens as his whiskers and onion slices for his big bunny teeth.
They can get creative assembling the salad and dressing around him! Remember, if they have touched a new food outside of mealtime, and especially in a playful way as this platter encourages, they are more likely to try it at mealtime!
Easter themed fruit platter:
Pineapple slices, halved
Blueberries for the bunny’s eyes
Assorted fruit, sliced into age-appropriate size
Kid’s stack up the pineapple slices to make up the body, face and ears of the bunny.
They stick in the blueberries to make the bunny’s eyes. (An adult may keen to cut small holes for the eyes first).
Now, surround the bunny with loads of chopped fruit (make sure to include some fruit that is less familiar to your child, this is a great opportunity to make them learn about the texture in a non-stressful way).