It started with cereal for breakfast and peanut butter and jelly for lunch. Slowly we were able to transition to better choices including omelets, quesadillas, and salads.
I turned over responsibility for breakfast and lunch preparation to my children because I wanted to reduce my workload. In reality, this change increased my workload initially as I helped them learn how to make wise food choices. Eventually, my workload did decrease and now they sometimes even prepare my meal too.
Reducing my workload wasn’t the only benefit of this change though. I quickly realized they were gaining valuable life skills through this process. They were learning how to make wise food choices such as including protein, fruit, and vegetables with their meals and snacks as well as how to have portion control.
I did need to lower my standards for a time and accept that they often had the same thing for breakfast every single day – cereal. It helped to discuss acceptable choices and make a list for them to choose from. I also needed to make sure we had healthy ingredients and choices available.
If you are ready to turn over responsibility for meal prep to your children, here are a few tips that helped us in this process:
- Discuss acceptable food choices.
- Have healthy options available.
- Use small bowls and plates to encourage proper portion control.
- Set limits on foods you don’t want them to have too often. (We set a limit of graham crackers and Nutella only once a week.)
- Work together to prepare a meal while they are still learning.
- Together make a meal plan for breakfast and lunch for the week. Involving them in the process increases their motivation.
- Have a few simple guidelines. One of ours was to have a protein, vegetable, fruit, and a glass of water before any packaged/processed food (such as chips).
- Try to keep your meal times consistent.
- Have kid safe utensils available such as a paring knife so they can cut up their own apples.