It's easy to blame our nation's poor eating habits on food marketing. But there are some lessons we can learn from those branding experts. Changing how you package your kids' food at home is one way to help them make healthier food choices.
Food manufacturers know all too well that good nutrition is hard to sell, so they sell the package. Putting a popular movie character on the label is all it takes to get kids to nag their parents into buying a cereal, snack or sweet treat. Rather than putting up with all that nagging, parents can join the food industry in its own game.
By repackaging what you want your children to eat, you can make choosing the right foods more fun for them and for you!
Name Your Own Snacks: Let children think of clever names and logos for foods they enjoy as snacks, then have them design sandwich bags for those snacks using felt-tip markers. Measure or count age-appropriate portions of the foods for each bag. For example, a "Squirrelly Mix" can be made by combining sweetened and unsweetened cereals, nuts, and dried fruit.
- pistachios or peanuts in the shell
- whole grain baked pita chips or crackers
- sweet or savory mini rice cakes or low fat popcorn
- seeded whole wheat bread sticks or pretzel stix
- roasted soy beans or steamed edamame
- reduced fat cheddar cheese cut into cubes or slices
- canned cocktail corn or assorted olives
- raw string beans or frozen crinkle-cut carrots
- hardboiled egg or roasted chicken leg
Homemade Goodies in Goody Bags: Get party store "goody bags" to fill with homemade or lower fat baked goods.
- mini corn or blueberry muffins
- crispy-marshmallow treats
- peanut butter filled crackers
- applesauce, avocado or black-bean brownies
- oatmeal raisin cookies or homemade granola bars
- zucchini, carrot or banana bread slices
Sticker-ware for Kids: Let children decorate small plastic storage containers, such as Tupperware, with their favorite stickers to create their own "Sticker-ware." Fill them with single portions of their favorite foods.
- macaroni & cheese
- fresh fruit salad
- yogurt parfait
- baked beans
- tuna, turkey or egg salad
- fruited gelatin
- mini meatballs
- vegetable dip
- rice pudding
Recycle the Memories: Save and wash food and beverage containers from special occasions to turn any meal or snack into an event.
- take-out cartons from Chinese food
- cold drink cups with team logos from ball parks
- plastic green berry baskets from farm markets
- clear, clamshell containers from produce
- divided plates from frozen dinners
More great ideas for getting kids to make healthier food choices: