Healthy meal options for kids

By: Najeeha khan
(Nutritionist at College of Home Economics, Karachi)

With life moving fast and mothers with their busy schedules, working in or outside home, the trend of giving healthy homemade snacks to kids is declining and mothers now depend  largely on giving packed food items which are may be high in fat, salt, processed or at times prepared un hygienically and above all they are not nutrient dense.  Here are some school snack suggestions for mothers to give their kids balanced, healthy and varied combinations of foods.

  1. French Toast with Apple (Give small size whole apples or if sliced wrap them up in cling film as it slows down the surface browning)
  2. Boiled Egg with Chocolate/Honey Spread sandwich.
  3. Omelet Chapatti Roll with peanuts (Instead of omelet, beef or chicken cutlets can be used. A nut mix or dates can be substituted for peanuts)
  4. Mini pizza with chicken and olives as topping and banana slices in jelly ( Avoid giving jelly in hot seasons as it may melt)
  5. Chicken cheese sandwich with carrot sticks.

May be you are thinking some of the items are time consuming or “My kids won’t eat these food” Right! So there are ways to deal with picky eaters. It’s us the mothers who develop bad food eating habits in our kids, so it’s going to take some time to switch over their taste buds towards healthy foods. First step is to stop bringing home foods that are highly processed such as frozen nuggets, French fries, cakes, Maggi noodles etc. These food apparently are very convenient snacks but are not nutrient dense. Secondly you can tell your kids stories about how eating healthy foods will make them strong, be a role model for them as well. If you give them canteen money every day, make it alternate days then twice and in end, limit it to once a week only.

As far as time is concerned weekends are good times to do some pre-preparation like making chapattis which are rolled but not cooked, freeze them and use afterwards by applying little oil. Jelly can be made at night so that it sets in morning but always add fruits in it or yogurt making it more nutritious. Boneless chicken pieces can be fried with spices and frozen for pizza topping or for sandwich, mini pizza crusts are  available in the market   just take them out in morning top with chicken pieces and olives and toast them in toaster. Phyllo sheets which are used to make samosas can be bought and stuffed with any homemade filling of potato with vegetables or chicken with vegetables or potato with cheese etc. If your kids are Maggi noodles lovers then always add some vegetables, chicken or corn to improve the nutrient content.

Kids enjoy a varied and attractive snack box, so instead of a simple box try to get a snack box with at least two compartments. Snack boxes that come with built in compartments are best to put things separately, if you have simple boxes then always save small disposal plastic cups in which you can set jelly or sauces. Ketchup can be given by making small sachet of aluminum foil so that food does not become soggy with ketchup all over it.

If you just think about it you can make lots of interesting food combinations for your kids. Our kids are our future so let’s take some time out to build healthy minds and bodies.

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