Climbing My Way Out of the Box (Dinner)
I’m not the healthiest eater. In fact, I’m a closet junk food eater. Meaning, when the kids aren’t looking, I’m pigging out. That means sneaking bites of Ben and Jerry’s out of the freezer when they aren’t looking or buying salty potato chips and waiting until they are in bed to eat them.
Is this the wisest choice? Probably not but healthy eating wasn’t necessarily a top priority in my house growing up so as poor of an excuse as it is; old habits die hard. Luckily, I’ve been blessed with a husband, who while he enjoys some junk food, also has made me change some of my ways.
When we first married, convenience foods were all I knew how to cook. If it didn’t come in a box, bag or pouch, with all the ingredients and instructions, odds are I wouldn’t cook it, simply because I didn’t know how to make a healthy meal without the box.
Marriage and kids changed those things.
Am I Betty Crocker now? Pfftt! No Way!
However, I’ve learned through the years that pre-packaged dinners and meals aren’t the way to go if I want my kids to eat healthy. It’s hard enough getting kids to eat right but throw in a mom who didn’t know what healthy eating looked like and I was looking at a recipe for disaster.
The first thing I did was involve the kids in the grocery shopping. I let them choose the fruits and vegetables that we eat. We choose from fresh and frozen vegetables mainly and so far, I’ve been blessed that the kids are all big on fruits and vegetables, despite their mom’s bad habits.
When it comes to cooking, I get them involved as much as possible. I let them help pick out what’s for dinner, choose sides and prepare dinner whenever I can. For my 13 year old, he can help man the oven and the stove, while the younger three stir, mix and gather ingredients. Cooking is as much a family event as sitting down to the meal is.
Since we live way out in the country (don’t get me started, I’m a displaced city girl), we’re fortunate to have a variety of produce stands around us and we also grow our own vegetables. Fruit trees such as apples and cherries are in our yard, and blackberries and mulberries line our woods. I probably shouldn’t complain but during the summer, it’s not uncommon to not be able to find the kids as they are knee deep in berry picking and eating.
Am I bringing up perfectly healthy and nutritious kids?
I still allow potato chips, chocolate and ice cream from time to time but the kids have learned that these are “treats” and not every day staples in the house.
We still eat boxed dinners on occasion but it’s not an every night occurrence. We’re learning to eat healthy together and if nothing else, the kids are teaching me about making better food choices when I shop, I’m always keeping their needs in mind as I buy groceries.
I don't expect to win any prizes or get mom of the year for the way we eat, but I'd be happy with kids who when given the choice will reach for the fresh fruit over a cookie as a snack. It's going to take some time but we'll get there... One scoop of double fudge brownie ice cream apple at a time.