When I became a mum I had every intention of being of one of those mums who only fed their child homemade, super healthy food. I judged parents giving their kids chips and nuggets and didn’t really believe parents when they made the claim that their kids wouldn’t eat veggies. Ha!
As with many things that I believed before I had my own children, I’ve had to eat my words with this. I ended up with two of the fussiest eaters going. While getting them to eat fruit isn’t so hard, the vegetables can be difficult. I’m here to tell you not to give up. There are some sneaky ways to get your kids to eat more vegetables that really do work.
While I definitely do ‘sneak’ the veggies into their foods and use my sneaky methods, it’s important to continue offering vegetables at meal times so that your child learns to expect them. By only hiding them, they’ll never learn to like them. Over time they will eventually will start to try them.
In the meantime, if you’re concerned that they are not eating enough vegetables (or even if they are – a few extra won’t hurt), here’s a few sneaky ways to get some more into them:
- Hide Them
I sneak vegetables into everything I possibly can and it’s amazing how my children (and husband) never notice. The trick is to grate them up. If I make a bolognaise I add grated zucchini, grated carrot and frozen spinach. You can’t see any of this once it has cooked. Add similar vegetables to home made sausage rolls, meat balls and burgers. Once you start, you’ll get sneakier and sneakier with this technique! You can even add vegetables to cupcakes like in this chocolate zucchini cupcake recipe.
- Offer them as snacks
Vegetables don’t have to be only for dinner time and often they’ll forget to complain about them if they think they’re getting a snack rather than dinner. Cut up carrots, celery, capsicum and cucumber are great in lunch boxes with hummus or tahini. Serve them with guacamole and you’re getting an extra serve of fruit too!
- Grow your own
It’s amazing how excited children get when they get to grow their own vegetables. Not only will they love the gardening process, they’ll be much more inclined to eat the food once they have watched it grow. Children can’t wait to eat a tomato off the vine or taste a carrot that they’ve pulled from the garden.
- Let them choose
Take them to a farmers market, or a farm if you live near one. We make this a weekend event and the rule is that each child can choose whatever fruit and vegetables they like. I don’t limit them (although you could give them a budget if you like) or object to their purchases as long as they try it when they get home. This has been really successful and they love our Saturday morning farmer’s market trips.
- Involve your child in the cooking process
Most children love helping to bake or cook and can’t wait to eat the food they have made. By using vegetables in the cooking process, children will get used to them and won’t be as concerned about them as they usually are. Print out a recipe and take the ingredient list to the store with you. They’ll happily grab all the items needed (veggies too) and the “I hate vegetables” spiel generally gets forgotten in the excitement of cooking.
The key is persistence – keep offering them, keep sneaking them in if you have to, and try to get your children excited about the growing and cooking processes. Hopefully they’ll develop good eating habits that will stay with them as they get older. Do you have any tips to share?