When kids are hungry, they are going to eat what they can scavenge, whether it’s a bag of exotic-flavored cheesie puffs or carrot sticks. Convenience food is whatever you deem it. It just needs to be easy to open and have the ability to be plopped into a waiting mouth. We fall into eating junky convenience foods when we are hungry, tired, time-crunched, or otherwise less discerning. (Picture me right before naptime running on little sleep. Exactly where are the chocolate chips? Tell Me!) I have been rethinking this concept of “convenience” since last summer when I fell in love with dried fruit. It required no peeling, minimal trash, and easy to pack. Oh, and all of my kids loved it.
My darling Middle E has helped me learn even more about convenience food. The crisper drawer is the only place that this 3-year-old can reach. So what is he always toting around? Carrots. I always have carrots in my crisper because I can get them for under .50/lb. He can also be found crunching into a bell pepper. Last night he surprised me again. During bed time he convinced me that he was, truly, starrrrvin’. I sent him out to find a suitable snack. He returned with a handful of spinach. I didn’t say a word as he contentedly munched his greens. Internally I was grinning and celebrating this feat of feats. I lucked out on this one. (Thanks to my fridge manufacturer!) But now I finally get the power of convenient placement of healthy food.
What foods do you make convenient for your kids? Use that brilliant mind of yours to think of how your pantry and fridge can become a healthy convenience store. After all, you are the one who’s figured out how to manage an entire household. You can do this, too. Envision yourself as a non-evil version of 7-Eleven.
As you reengineer your pantry and fridge there is really only one guiding principle:
Make it easy by reducing the number of steps.
For example, chop up fruit and veggies and put them in little bags. Homemade trail mix is another great option that is popular at our house. I simply combine a low-sugar cereal, cashew pieces, and raisins. They feel really cool when it’s in their own little bag. This is my go-to snack when we’re insanely busy running errands.
When a home food environment supports good choices you won’t have to hide things, nag, or say, “no!” Food can be enjoyable, tasty, and reduce their risk for gobs of chronic diseases. You got this, Mom.
Learn how to advertise fresh fruit at home without any effort in this post, Healthy Food: Leave it Out (Out in the Open that Is).
Do you have a three-year-old, too? Read about some tricks I learned to reduce mealtime tension over at these posts, Learning to Feed a Three-Year-Old and Apple, Banana, or Orange? Learning to Set the Standard.