If you “google” kid friendly meals, most likely you will see many hits for macaroni and cheese, hotdogs, pizza, and sweets. If you do not find these typical foods, you will most likely find many articles with tips and tricks to hide vegetables in food. Try it, I did.
I use “kid friendly food” often but after much thought and an in-depth conversation with a colleague; I wonder what it actually means to my readers. Am I misleading readers by using this term? Depending on who you are talking to “kid friendly” can have a drastically different meaning. I think this question can certainly welcome debate with parental opinion on many sides of the fence.
Here are a couple of examples of “kid friendly food” we discussed:
- Food commonly dumb-down to meet the child’s taste buds. (plain noodles, cheese roll-up in place of home cooked lasagna, plain rice, plain chicken, etc)
- Food commonly resembling the fast food market and pre-packaged meals that are specifically targeted to influence the child’s selection and taste buds. (chicken nuggets, hotdogs, pizza)
- Food presented (cut or shaped) in a specific fashion to make it more appetizing for the child.
- Food “hidden” in other foods to ensure consumption.
- Food traditionally eaten in the home based on culture, religion, tradition, habits, schedule, health issues and budget. (my definition).
- Why do we settle for typical kid friendly foods? I think we settle because our society makes it easy and convenient for us. The food industry also does a fantastic job marketing toys to our children so we buy their meals at our children’s request. However, if we settle for “kid friendly” foods based on most of the definitions above aren’t we feeding our children inferior foods?
- Why do we even need the term “kid friendly”? If we use the word “kid friendly”, we are giving children the expectation they do not have to eat foods we want them to eat, explore or experience. We are setting a clear division between us, food and our children.
- Expect the best from yourself. If you eat healthier foods, your child will too. Remember they do as we do, not say.
- Dust off great grandma’s recipe box and embrace your family culture and traditions through your family recipes.
- Empower your child to help you in the kitchen and plan family meals together.
- Try new foods but take the time to enjoy the curiosity, wisdom, history and self-pride new foods can welcome into your home.
- If you puree vegetables into foods, serve them whole as a side dish at the same time or let your child help you prepare the recipe with the puree in it.
- Let your children play with their food. Touching, smelling, looking, hearing (cooking sounds), and tasting are all involved in the exploration of food.
- Visit local farmers and offer to help harvest their crop, if you do not garden at home.
- Enjoy your food. If you enjoy food, your child will too.
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