Feeding kids requires a lot of thought.
I was brought up thinking that meat and starch were the main parts of a meal, with a small side of veggies and fruit. Since I’ve learned more about how our bodies process these things and how far away from a “whole food” we’ve gone I have done a complete 180. Now we follow a “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” rule.
Our breakfasts are heavy so the kids go to school with full stomachs and stay full until lunch. This usually means carbs, oatmeal, a bagel, sometimes an egg sandwich, a cup of yogurt and fruit is a staple. I don’t think my kids would know what to do with themselves if there weren’t cups of TJ’s yogurt in the house. Most kids go to school with nothing in their stomachs but a bowl of cereal that they burn through in just two hours because it’s not the right kind of carbs to keep them full.
Lunch is a variety. I try to get as many colors and “whole foods” in as possible. Raw veggies, hummus, and tons of fruit. In my opinion a lunch should be about 50% plant material, not counting grains. Carbs are a small portion of lunch and are usually limited to a whole grain bread like a pita or sandwich thin and something crunchy as a snack like pretzels or Goldfish. My kids aren’t huge meat eaters so they usually have a hard boiled egg but sometimes they get a few rolls of deli meat and cheese in there.
Our standard afternoon snack is usually “trail mix” where they fill their snack cup with whatever crunchy food they want and dried fruit.
Dinners are light and again 50% plant matter. I’ve had to get creative because they like salad but aren’t willing to eat it more than once or twice a week. Now when I make pasta with sauce it’s half macaroni and half cauliflower. We eat a lot of stir frys that are packed with edamame and peppers. Very rarely do we have a meal that’s either mostly meat or mostly pasta and those are special occasions like steak night. More often than not our dinners are a mish mosh of whatever’s in the fridge that they want and a smoothie. Smoothies are perfect for filling out that 50% because I can pack in about 2 cups of spinach or kale and with a little coconut milk or yogurt and some fruit it’s practically a dessert. They get really excited to try different combos and I’ve even tried to re-create some I’ve seen on Fresh Beat Band. Groovy Grape didn’t turn out so well…grapes do not like being blended.
But my point is I stopped seeing dinner as a meat/starch combo with a side of vegetables and tweaked the whole thing so that their meals suit what they need for their bodies instead of the classic meals I was raised on like taco night, meatloaf night and spaghetti with meatballs. Obviously the meals we were raised on isn’t doing anyone very well because half of Americans are obese. I want better for my kids so I am bending over backwards to consider ever bite they put in their mouths and how it will benefit them.