Who else feels like they’re feeding kids All. The. Time now? Yeah…
Let me just acknowledge that feeding kids is not easy. It’s never been easy, even B.C. (Before Coronavirus). And now you’re likely doing it more than you did previously, both because your kids are home with you all the time and because they’re asking for food constantly. And unlike casual Saturday lunches or after school snacks, you’re now trying to keep them happy and fed amidst working from home with no childcare while balancing homeschooling and stir-crazy, likely anxious kids while coping with your own stress and anxiety…
Yeah. It’s not easy.
So take it from this dietitian and give yourself a break. Food is comforting, both for children and adults. Yes, we ultimately want to raise our children to understand how to cope with their emotions in ways besides food. But right now, food may be one of the few normal and consistent things in your child’s (and your own) life right now. M&Ms, Goldfish and chicken nuggets may be some of the few small pleasures left in the absence of playdates and recess.
There’s nothing wrong with embracing that, and hey, if nuking some chicken nuggets rather than cooking chicken from scratch makes one less thing that YOU have to take care of, all the better.
So I checked in with my fellow dietitian moms to see what they’re serving their kids these days. The goal of this post is certainly to give you some new meal ideas, but mainly to encourage you that EVEN DIETITIANS give their kids crackers, candy, hot dogs and cheese balls. So you can, too.
All of these meals do have one particular thing in common, which I think is so fantastic given that when I asked my colleagues for these photos, I didn’t say anything about including certain foods in the meals. Any guesses yet? I’ll share the answer at the end.
Easy Quarantining Meals from Dietitians:
This one’s from me, an afternoon snack for my 4-year-old: Mini sweet peppers, Wheat Thins and M&Ms.
PB&J bear on whole wheat bread with berries from Sarah Torres.
“I’m trying to anticipate my kids hunger and providing snack plates at reliable times. Goldfish, orange, strawberries and carrots and ranch.” Stacy Cluxton Michael of cluxtonconsulting.com.
“This was dinner a couple nights ago. My 23 mo wouldn’t eat chili in her bowl, but she did eat all the chili from my bowl. Toddler logic. Also cheese balls are a staple at EVERY meal.” Clara Nosek of @yourdietitianbff.
Tortellini, shrimp and frozen veggies from Sarah Schlichter of Bucket List Tummy.
Bagel bites, apples and carrots from Lindsay Livingston of The Lean Green Bean.
“It was time to go to the grocery store so this is all I had on hand, and it was perfectly fine! I like to give my kids a variety of foods and encourage healthy food behaviors by teaching my kids about proper portions, instead of labeling foods good or bad.” Andrea Mathis of Little Eats & Things.
“Snack time…we haven’t been to the store in a couple of weeks! Yogurt smoothie, veggie straws, hummus, matchstick carrots” from Megan Trowbridge.
“Boxed vegan mac, tofu & frozen vegetables. There’s also been lots of puffs and chocolate chips!!” from Kelly Jones of Kelly Jones Nutrition.
“Here’s my son having snack time with his animals Triscuits, dried mango, and popcorn in each little cup.” Chrissy Carroll of Snacking in Sneakers.
“My kids love snacking on these homemade strawberries and yogurt popsicles!” From Melissa Nieves of Fad Free Nutrition Blog.
“Cottage cheese, sliced grape tomatoes, banana (that he destroyed) and a chopped blood orange that I found in the back of my fruit bin,” from Taylor Williams.
“I have older kids so they can get their own snacks. I make sure they have a good breakfast, lunch and dinner and they get their own snacks. Not gonna lie, they will go for crackers or anything sweet even if the fruits and veggies are out. I have lowered my parenting bar so low, I am tripping over it. I have made ramen several times to use up leftover vegetables.” Amy Cole Reed of Amy Reed Nutrition.
“I made these snack bags. They have Vegan Rob cauliflower puffs, chocolate chips, Trader Joe’s fruit leather buttons and Thinnable fiber crackers. Great snacks for all moms to know about!” Ilana of @nutrition.kids.teens.
Boxed mac and frozen peas from Jessica Gust of @elementnutrition.kids. “I’ve been posting the before and after of all my kids meals over on my Instagram account. People have been asking for them!”
“Quaran-Turkey Dogs: Crescent rolls wrapped around an uncured turkey hotdog, spiraled apple slices, and sugar snap peas,” from Teresa Ann.
Ritz crackers, peanut butter, mandarin oranges and sliced cherry tomatoes from Brenda McIntyre.
“Lunch prepared from all frozen foods: pizza, peas and blueberries.” from Rachel Bloom of Nutrition in Bloom.
“Garlic bread bagels, avocado, carrots with hummus, and chicken fingers!” from Jamie McIntyre.
Breakfast: Kroger French toast sticks with agave drizzled over it, Canadian bacon, hash brown patty, fresh fruit and milk from Tabitha Berry Nicholas, The Lifestyle Nutritionist.
“Mac n’ cheese, broccoli stalks, and chicken. A 3 year old and a 16 month old ate the entire box of Mac n’ cheese!” from Dani Lebovitz of Kid Food Explorers.
“Harvey’s burgers, onion rings & veggie tray,” from Terri Ney of Tiny Bites Nutrition.
Hummus, edamame, carrots, cheese, steamed green beans from Michelle of Fit Plate Nutrition.
“My daughter requested cheese pizza the other day. I didn’t have all the classic pizza ingredients so I made her a pizza out of a whole grain tortilla, tomato sauce, and cheese. Then for fun, I cut them into sunshines using a cookie cutter. I pared it with a simple banana (not pictured). She was thrilled!” from Lacy Ngo, MS, RDN of Mindfullness in Faith and Food.
Homemade Chinese chicken, sticky rice, and frozen (steamable) broccoli from Liz Burkland.
Veggies ranch dip, babybel cheese, bagel from Amy Chow of bcdietitians.ca.
“Hummus, carrots, wheat crackers, mandarin orange, and a little bit of chocolate covered freeze dried strawberries. In hindsight, this was too much hummus,” from Paula Wesson, The Junk Food Nutritionist.
“Snack time!” from Lana Zinger.
Grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread with veggies and 1 cutie from Cristina Svec, MA, RDN, CLE, Dietitian in San Francisco Bay Area.
“Lunch for my 2 year old. Peppers, carrots, cucumbers, cheddar cheese, crackers, greek yogurt in the pouch and water in the cup. And some raisins by request!” from Nicole Stefanow MS RDN.
So have you guessed what all of these meals have in common yet? It wasn’t too hard, huh? Produce! Even if the meal is boxed mac & cheese or burgers from a local joint, all of my colleagues and I take a second to put some fruit or vegetables on the plate. In most cases, it’s not even anything that requires prep – just some baby carrots or berries will do. And if your kids don’t eat it, please don’t worry about it at all. You get a giant “I tried” sticker and can move on with your day.
So what are you feeding your kids these days? And what are they ACTUALLY eating? I’d love to hear!