Does being at home make your entire family snack nonstop? Read on for our some of our favorite healthy eating tips for kids, along with our at home snack & meal schedule!
We’ve spent a lot of time at home this year. Because I have very quick labors/deliveries, Dan worked from home for the 2 weeks before my due date with baby girl. After she was born, we mostly stayed at home for about the 10 days after while my parents were here, since we no longer all fit in the minivan with baby #5’s arrival! We were out and about for about a month after that, and then quarantine happened. With everything going on and with being home for extended periods of time, our meal schedule was all over the place!
After we started quarantining at home, I noticed we were ALL way more inclined to graze throughout the day. It was driving me batty! I was tired of the constant crumbs, not to mention the not being hungry at mealtimes due to snacking all day (the kids AND the adults). We definitely needed to reimplement some of our healthy eating tips for kids.
I decided we needed to revert to a more set meal and snack schedule so we could all still feel healthy (and also so Mom wouldn’t lose her marbles). Here are some tips that have been helpful for us, as well as the basic snack & meal schedule we follow each day. I hope it helps you, too!
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Our At Home Snack & Meal Schedule for Kids:
Snack Ideas & Healthy Eating Tips for Kids
10 Healthy Eating Tips for Kids
We’re certainly no pros when it comes to healthy kid eating. We need to rejigger things every so often, and we adapt along the way. But these tips have definitely helped our family reduce constant grazing and increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, and other healthful foods at mealtime. I hope they help you, too!
1. Breakfast like a king. I know some kids just don’t feel like eating breakfast. And that’s okay! But as much as possible, try to get them to eat at least a little of something, even if it’s not a traditional “breakfast” food. All growing up, I hated sweet things for breakfast (still don’t care for them), so my mom would feed me dinner leftovers. It worked great. If your child really can’t eat first thing in the morning, try to give them a filling breakfast a little later in the morning.
2. Try to include protein at every meal. I find my kids get hungry much more quickly if they’re just eating carbs. If they just eat cereal for breakfast, for instance, they tend to be hungry half an hour later. And it’s so much better for their little bodies to get plenty of protein to fuel their activities!
3. Similarly, try to use whole grains as much as possible. Not only do they have more nutrients, but they also keep us feeling full and satiated for longer.
4. Allow your kids to be intuitive in their eating: don’t limit their food intake and don’t force them to eat more than they choose. Don’t force them to finish plates or into eating certain foods. You get to choose WHAT and WHEN to eat. They get to choose IF and HOW MUCH. Their bodies tend to be SO good at knowing how much they need to eat. Trust them.
5. Have fruit/vegetable choices available in between meals. Outside of set snack and mealtimes for kids, we always have some fruit and veggies out and available. We have several big bowls of fruit and they can always help themselves to those. They include apples, bananas, oranges, pears, etc. – things that are easy to grab and eat. We also usually have baby carrots, celery, etc. in the fridge that they can easily access. These are great anytime snack choices.
6. Limit sugar availability. Sugar is one of those sneaky things where the more we have it, the more we want it. Our bodies are programmed that way. So while you should absolutely still allow intuitive eating with your children, be cautious about the amount of sugar available, as well as what kind (certain food dyes, for instance, or simple carbs such as those delicious fishy and graham crackers that are so great in moderation ;)).
7. Encourage new flavors, and give them the opportunity to love new foods. Try not to get worked up when your kids balk at new things. Just keep offering – but DO offer! Don’t assume your kid won’t eat certain foods because they’re not “kid-friendly.” Give them the opportunity to love a wide variety of foods. Never force them, and don’t get worked up over it. But DO give them the benefit of the doubt – you might be surprised by what they like.
8. Hunger is okay. If your child says he/she is hungry at a time you choose isn’t a time for eating, that is okay. You can explain it’s good to start getting hungry so our bodies will be ready and excited for the healthy and delicious food that is soon to come.
Of course, you should NEVER starve your child. If it’s going to be too long until the next meal/snack time, or if their bodies are growing and need some extra food, please feed them!! Just know that mild hunger is good when it’s almost mealtime – we all should be hungry so we can eat!
9. Keep food as an amoral issue. Food lacks morality. It isn’t right or wrong. Some foods give our body more energy and strength than other foods, but the food itself isn’t good or evil.
10. TRUST YOUR KIDS. Some kids need to eat more frequently. Some kids don’t need to eat as often. Try to encourage them to listen to their bodies for when they are full and hungry, and don’t shame them either way.
At the end of the day, YOUR KIDS ARE THE BEST JUDGES OF THEIR BODIES. They know what they need – trust them.
Our Snack & Meal Schedule for Kids
7:30 or 8am: Breakfast
We keep this pretty simple. We try to include protein especially in our breakfast offerings to give us all fuel through the morning and to get our bodies and brains ready for the day.
- Eggs (boiled, fried, or scrambled) (Our 9 & 7 year olds can scramble eggs themselves using our beloved nonstick pan and spatula)
- Overnight slow cooker steel cut oatmeal
- Yogurt with homemade granola
- Cottage cheese with fruit
- Reheated homemade waffles with peanut butter (We sometimes make a big batch of waffles on the weekend and keep them in the fridge. I have strong feelings about waffle irons and THIS is my favorite.)
10:30am: Morning snack
I prefer to give my kids something with a bit of protein to tide them over better. I basically like to spend zero time and energy preparing snacks, so I prefer ones that take no prep or ones my kids can get themselves.
- Apples & cheddar (this apple slicer makes it super easy for my kids to cut themselves)
- Smoothie (so easy in my very beloved blender)
- Fruit (oranges, bananas, berries, grapes, etc.)
- String cheese
12 or 12:30pm: Lunch
We eat leftover for lunch about 90% of the time. It doesn’t take much more effort to make enough during dinner the night before to feed us for lunch. Normally, Dan’s work provides his lunch but that’s obviously not the case now that he’s working from home.
Since we have everyone home and eating for lunch, we usually supplement leftovers with extra fruit, hummus and veggies, crackers, or cheese. Basically like a tapas/snack plate with leftovers as the main component.
3:30pm: Afternoon snack
I still try to include a bit of protein and maybe a veggie here. Once or twice a week, we’ll do a fun snack, like toast with Nutella or a popsicle.
- Baby carrots with hummus
- Hard boiled eggs
- Dried fruit & pretzel sticks
- Sliced cucumbers with dip
- Cheese & crackers (brie is their favorite)
- Celery with peanut butter (with chocolate chips if I’m feeling nice ;))
- Peanut butter & apples
5:30 or 6pm: Dinner
We like to eat dinner relatively early so that the kids aren’t asking for a million snacks in between, and also so we can get them to bed at a reasonable time. This allows us to eat and chat and clean up, then do scriptures and read aloud before bedtime.
Here are some of our favorite dinner recipes:
IF YOU LIKED THIS SNACK & MEAL SCHEDULE FOR KIDS, YOU MIGHT LIKE THESE POSTS TOO:
- Super Quick Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Creamy Tomato Soup
- Vegetarian Spanish Tortilla Recipe
- Instant Pot Chana Masala Recipe (Indian Chickpea Curry)
DON’T NEED THESE HEALTHY EATING TIPS FOR KIDS QUITE YET? PIN THIS POST FOR LATER!