With health professionals warning of a ‘diabetes generation’ in waiting and obesity on the rise, ensuring that our children get a healthy, balanced diet is more important than ever. Our supermarkets are full of products containing a high content of saturated fats, salt and sugars, all of which are detrimental to health and development.
Such ready meals and snacks can seem like the easy option for busy parents with little time to devote to meal planning and cooking from scratch, but if consumed on a regular basis, they will give children a sweet tooth, make healthy foods taste plain and contribute to overall ill health.
(Image credit: Julian Lee)
There are many time saving tips and tricks you can employ when cooking and planning meals to ensure that your kids are getting all of the vitamins and minerals they need to grow and be the healthiest they can be. Here are some ideas to help parents who are pushed for time but who recognize the need for a carefully considered, balanced diet for their children.
Use your freezer to its full potential
The freezer is an indispensable tool for busy parents and if used with good planning and organisation, it can save a lot of time and money. One simple thing to keep in the freezer is peeled banana, cut up into chunks.
To make a healthy and filling smoothie, either for breakfast or as a mid-morning or after school snack, simply use one frozen banana per child, put in a blender with a teaspoon of honey (although try not to overdo it on the sugar!) and 200ml milk, blitz and serve.
Planning ahead for occasions when don’t have the time to cook a nutritious
meal will mean you won’t have to resort to fatty, sugary convenience foods.
When making a stew or casserole, why not make twice the amount you need and freeze half for another day? If you leave for work knowing you will be pushed for time in the evening, simply take it out of the freezer and leave in the fridge to defrost all day.
For busy mums and dads, the freezer is your greatest ally!
When you get home the family will be able to enjoy a healthy, home cooked meal (which has retained most of its nutrients in the freezing process), all in the time it took to heat up.
A nutritious breakfast
If you’re short on time in the mornings and all you have time to do is rush everyone out of the door wearing the correct number of shoes and socks, then making time for a nutritious and filling breakfast can seem like a challenge.
Although cereals are a quick, easy option
they are often full of sugar and don’t set up your child for the day ahead.
Instead, opt for porridge – it may not be as quick, but it only takes five minutes and you can make it in bulk for the whole family. The milk in it provides a good amount of calcium, which kids need for healthy bones and teeth and the slow release energy will keep them fuller for longer.
Try to resist the urge to use sugar
Porridge can be made more appealing by adding a small spoonful of jam or honey but the best alternative is actual fruit! It will add sweetness and some much need vitamins.
Lower the sugar content in fruit juices
Orange juice is another way to make sure they’re on their way to five a day by the time school even begins, but it can be very high in sugar, so beware of relying too heavily on it. To cut down the sugar content, top up the final third of the glass with water.
Disguise vegetables in a quick tomato sauce
All kids love pasta and sauce and it can be ready in a mere ten minutes. You can’t beat it for a simple dinner every now and again which you can be sure will go down a storm. But it’s not exactly packed with nutrition!
Making your own sauce from scratch is quick, easy and so much more nutritious than using the stuff you can buy in a jar. It’s also a clever way to disguise the green veg that so many children seem to take against, giving them a healthy meal that they really enjoy, complete with the nutrients they need.
Use whichever vegetables you like, chop and cook with tinned tomatoes and herbs of your choosing and then blend before serving. Various recipes are available online. Make a double batch and freeze the remainder for use in lasagnes or as a pizza topping. It’s so good for them and they’ll never know!
Although no substitute for a healthy diet, to ensure that your children are getting all of the vital vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy and develop properly, a simple vitamin every morning with breakfast is a good habit to get into. There are plenty of child friendly flavours available in chewy form.
About The Author
Hi there, my name is Jonathon, I am a fitness and nutrition expert and I love leading an active lifestyle and helping others to do likewise. I write for Natures Best, a supplier of healthy vitamins and supplements. Visit us here to learn more!