Make menu planning a fun learning experience by planning themed dinners once a week or once a month. Decide on your theme for the meal and sit the kids down for some help planning the meal. You may end up with some strange food combinations, but that is part of the fun!
Courtesy of Obesity Action Coalition
Healthy Kids Start at Home
by Chef Dave Fouts and Vicki Bovee, MS, RD
Here are some suggestions to get you started with a theme:
1. ABC Menu – Plan a meal with all foods, starting with a letter of the alphabet. Everyone gets to pick a food for the letter of the meal. If the letter of the meal is “r,” you could include radishes, ribs, rhubarb, red peppers, rye bread, raisins, ravioli, raspberries or rolls. Have the kids get out the dictionary to look up foods for some of the more difficult letters. The ABC theme can give you at least 23 meals since you may have to combine some of the letters like q, x and z into another meal.
2. Color Menu – Plan the meal with all the foods the same color. It may not look exciting on the plate, but the planning is the fun part. Just keep in mind that there are no naturally occurring blue foods since blueberries are really purple.
3. Shape Menu – Plan your meal with all the foods of the same shape. The foods can be your shape naturally or you can cut them into the shape. If you are having a square meal, you can make hamburger patties into squares, trim the buns and make fruit cubes.
4. Four Course Meal – Design your menu around the following “courses:” salad, fruit or vegetable, entrée, side dish and dessert. Decide who gets to choose which course and then rotate courses for the next four-course meal.
To learn more about themed menu planning with kids, visit ObesityAction.org.