One of the best gifts you can give your children is your example of collaborating with them on picking healthy foods and sticking to your grocery list without getting distracted by temptations or pleading. When your child sees that you are not an impulse buyer, she understands your commitment to healthy food choices. You can certainly involve your children in creating the week's menus and the grocery list. Having the kids come with you when you shop can also become quality time, especially if they have the task of helping locate and load unbreakable items such as pasta boxes.
1. Getting Started
Set up a list on a piece of paper with section headings that reflect the departments and store layout of where you shop. Let's Move, a U.S. government initiative to help you raise healthier kids, provides a template for such a list that includes healthy suggestions. Work together with your kids to create the list. Ask them what they think you need. Your goal is to create a list that also notes the quantity you need for a week.
2. Produce and Bakery
Start with the produce aisle and list fruits, vegetables and salad components. Itemize additional fruits and vegetables from the canned goods and frozen sections. In the bakery department and aisle for packaged rice and pasta, enter whole grains for at least half the choices, recommends Nutrition.gov.
3. Dairy and Meats
Include non-fat and low-fat milk and yogurt, as well as low- and no-fat cheeses in the dairy case. Complete your list with lean meats and skinless poultry, fish, as well as dry beans, peas and nuts.
Plan snacks as mini-meals and look for alternatives to processed foods. List pretzels, roasted peanuts, raisins and sunflower seeds, or tasty citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines and clementines. Designate carrots and brightly colored bell peppers as snacks to go with your child's favorite creamy dip or salsa.
Lead your children in the right direction as you involve them in creating a grocery list. Insist on having them eat fruits and vegetables, but allow them latitude to pick which ones. At the same time, steer the child away from microwave popcorn and toward healthier alternatives like air-popped, which is easy to season with a dash of dry dressing and dip mix, and is lower and fat and calories. Or suggest animal crackers or graham crackers instead of chocolate cookies. Stay as much as possible on the periphery of the grocery store where healthier, unprocessed foods are displayed. And as you shop, read labels. Look for low cholesterol, sodium, saturated and trans fats, and high fiber, vitamins A, C and E, and calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium. Revise your list after shopping to reflect which foods fell down when their labels were examined closely.