Food plays a vital role in child development, directly impacting this crucial growth period and setting up lifelong nutritional habits. Food provides the energy a child needs to grow and reach important developmental milestones. Therefore, careful consideration should be given to the meals your child eats.
However, this doesn’t mean that nutrition shouldn’t be tasty – and fun. With this in mind, there’s no better time to give your household menu an overhaul to ensure that not only the smallest members of the family get to eat healthily, but the adults as well.
Let’s face it. We’re all guilty of sticking to tried and trusted favourites when it comes to family meals. Most of us have a repertoire of 3 or 4 that we serve on an endless loop. This isn’t down to lack of imagination or laziness – more that most of us are juggling multiple tasks, including bringing up the family alongside work and other responsibilities.
The following includes some great ideas that are easy to scale for toddlers through to adults, include varied nutritional value and, most importantly, taste great!
- Baby Bolognaise: A great way to bulk up the veggie content for children aged 9 months plus. Serve with pasta, zucchini, rice or your chosen alternative. Read the recipe here. Simply scale up the amounts and voila! A delicious healthy meal for all the family.
- Quick Prawn Tacos: Easy to prepare and fun finger food to eat, this is a simple meal that packs in the nutrients and makes for great round-the-kitchen-table family dining. A recipe that requires little prep and can be ready in a flash.
- Child-friendly Poke bowls: Who doesn’t love a poke bowl? So easy to make, you can easily whip up a selection to feed the family. Cooked rice, canned tuna, diced cucumber and avocado are all it takes for a healthy varied meal that, once again, takes no time at all to prepare.
- Chicken and broccoli Alfredo: This one-pot recipe isn’t only delicious and quick to prep, but it saves on washing up as well. Broccoli is packed with nutrition as well as adding colour and depth to what would otherwise be a bland-looking dish. Check out the recipe here.
- Vegetable pikelets: Ideal for finger food that’s both fun and healthy. Leftovers can be eaten cold as snacks as well. You can faithfully follow the recipe or add in other vegetables that you have to hand.
These are just five examples of how easy it is to give your family mealtimes a makeover. Of course, your child may well consume meals in places outside the home, such as a nursery, preschool or kindergarten. When selecting a suitable provider, nutritional requirements should also be something that’s well provided for. This should include the capacity to cater to any individual requirements, such as allergies or a specific type of diet.
The key to great food choices is planning, preparation, such as batch cooking, and one of the most important traditions that’s often overlooked: sitting down and eating as a family. While the latter might not be logistically possible every day, making the effort to do so as often as possible is a great way to increase family bonding time.
A little effort goes a long way. You’ll be amazed at the benefits it brings. Bon appétit.
Danielle Innes has over 21 years’ experience in Early Childhood Education and Care in South Australia. She has held managerial and leadership positions in the private and community sectors and also worked with children with additional rights as Education Supervisor of SA’s first Autism Specific Early Learning Centre.
Danielle really enjoyed her recent position with the State Regulatory Authority, but felt a strong calling to return to childhood education and so joined Nido Early School in August 2019. Danielle loves the variety and challenges of the role as People and Quality Leader and is passionate about high-quality practices, routines, curriculums and like-minded educators and the difference they make to the lifelong outcomes of early learners and their families.
She is also a wife and mum of three, and balances work with a busy and active family life which includes sports, time outdoors and camping.