How to get your kids to eat their fruits and veggies

Making time for family dinner and being creative when you can’t
Woman shopping in the produce section

Getting fruits and vegetables on your kids’ plates can be challenging. Harder still? Getting the good stuff in your kids’ mouths.

Try these simple strategies and call on your own creative genius to get your littles and middles on board the zucchini boat. It’s time to ingrain your family’s healthy eating habits.

  1. Prep when you can.
    Got a crazy week ahead? Try to carve out some time over the weekend to cook and freeze healthy meals that you can easily reheat on a minute’s notice. Gather your family around a table and make a list of what they like to eat. Plan on featuring the most nutritious suggestions. As for the less healthy options (mac and cheese, I’m looking at you), focus on balancing tried-and-true goodies with vegetables or healthy sides.

  2. Perform a snack makeover.
    Relying on packaged, processed snack foods? Trade ‘em in for healthier, grabbable snacks. Think hummus and veggies wrapped in a tortilla, fruit skewers, or apple and celery slices dipped in mini cups of peanut butter. Find an online snack guru like Anjali Shah who runs The Picky Eater Blog, or search hashtag #healthysnacks for tons of Instagram inspiration.

  3. Don’t ditch dessert.
    We all know sugar should be kept to a minimum, but a sweet after-dinner treat doesn’t have to be bad for you to taste oh, so good. Give your kids (and yourself!) something worth finishing their veggies for. Try freezing chocolate-dipped banana halves into pops, or serving small bowls of chocolate chip-stuffed raspberries after they’ve cleared their plates. Strawberry yogurt bark makes a great stand-in for ice cream. Line a sheet pan with Greek yogurt, sprinkle with strawberries, freeze, then break into pieces.

  4. Make fun food arrangements.
    Few kids look forward to broccoli and potatoes. But served as small green trees sprouting from a mountain of mashed potatoes lined with pretzel-stick fences? That’s fun! Zucchini fritters made into hearts using a cookie cutter? Love!

  5. Prioritize family meals.
    We’re all busy, so sitting down to dinner isn’t always possible. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, kids who sit down for a family meal eat more fruit, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. Try scheduling dinner at the same time each night, so the family can plan around it. Or, involve little ones by occasionally declaring “Kids Night,” where they get to choose an appetizer, main course, and dessert from a list of healthy options. Getting your family to the table is worth the effort.