I have some great suggestions for you regarding produce shopping and age-appropriate delegation in the kitchen. It’s important to do some research and find out which types of produce are best purchased in organic form, and which ones are acceptable to purchase that are not organic.
When purchasing organic, think about the skin of the fruit or vegetable. Is it a thin skinned fruit or veggie? Will you be consuming the skin, such as the skin of an apple or grape? That’s when you’ll want to purchase organic! If you are consuming fruit with a hard outside layer, such as watermelon or oranges, then you can get away with non-organic fruits and vegetables. You always want to wash your produce before you remove the skin if you are not using organic!
Get to know your Produce Labels in your local grocery stores. What do those PLU sticker labels on our produce REALLY mean? You would be surprised! There are charts on the internet that you can copy and print out, and carry along to the grocery store with you, so that your produce purchases are healthy and pesticide/chemical free. This is a great way to teach your children how to pick fresh, healthy produce to contribute to your healthy meal planning.
Another great tip is to delegate some of your own cooking responsibilities in age-appropriate fashion. For toddler age children, allow them to sit at the kitchen sink with you, and rinse off your newly purchased produce. They will get a kick out of helping you, and you will be teaching them how to clean and prepare your healthy produce for a delicious meal that they helped to prepare!
For the kindergarten age group, a great delegation would be to give your child the responsibility of informing Mom or Dad once a week of healthy foods your household is running low on. Kids love looking, searching, and evaluating at this age, so treat it like a ‘treasure hunt’ of sorts. This can be their new weekly 'job' to assist in creating a new shopping list for the family.
For upper grade children, they can write the shopping list out, and come up with new foods to add to the list that no one has tried yet. They can also help prep your meals and set the table. Older junior high and high school children can help cut veggies and make salads, as well as cooking on the stove under the guidance and supervision of a responsible adult.
Food awareness, healthier ingredients, and allowing your children to plan and participate in the meal planning and cooking process will create a happier and healthier child with sustainable energy needed to get through their busy days. It will ultimately create stress- free meals that the entire family can enjoy together. Keeping your children nourished with ‘happy food’ is the best gift you could give them for optimal health and a happy life!