Ensuring that children have a healthy and well-balanced diet is of utmost importance for their growth and development. If your child is currently enrolled in one of our sponsored Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) childcare centers or family childcare homes, rest assured that they are already receiving nutritionally balanced meals approved by the USDA during their time in care. To encourage the continuation of these healthy eating habits at home, we would like to offer you some healthy and economical suggestions:
Fresh fruits and vegetables:
Encourage your children to eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Visit local farmers' markets or grocery stores to find seasonal produce, as they are often more affordable. You can also involve your children in meal planning and preparation to get them excited about eating healthy foods.
Opt for whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, and whole grain pasta instead of refined grains. These options provide more nutrients and fiber, keeping your children full and satisfied.
Incorporate legumes like beans, lentils, and chickpeas into your child's meals. They are affordable, excellent sources of protein, and offer various health benefits. You can add them to soups, stews, or make bean-based burgers or dips.
Choose lean protein sources like skinless poultry, fish, eggs, and tofu. These options are relatively economical and provide essential nutrients for growth and development.
Dairy or dairy alternatives:
Include low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese in your child's diet. If your child has a dairy allergy or follows a vegan diet, explore alternative options like soy milk or almond milk fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
Preparing meals at home allows you to control the ingredients and portion sizes. It can be more cost-effective than eating out. Engage your children in meal preparation and make it a fun and educational experience for them.
Limit sugary snacks and beverages:
Minimize the consumption of sugary snacks, sodas, and fruit juices, as they can contribute to health problems. Instead, offer water, milk, or unsweetened beverages and provide healthier snack options like cut-up fruits, vegetables with hummus, or homemade granola bars.
Meal planning and budgeting:
Plan your meals in advance, create a shopping list, and stick to it. This approach can help you save money and reduce food waste. Look for sales, discounts, or coupons to make the most of your budget.
Food assistance programs:
If you're facing financial constraints, consider exploring food assistance programs available in Tennessee. Programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provide eligible families with funds to purchase nutritious food.
Take advantage of community gardens, food cooperatives, or local food banks that offer affordable or free produce. These resources can help supplement your child's diet with fresh and healthy options.
Remember, it's essential to involve your children in the decision-making process and teach them about the importance of making healthy food choices. By fostering a positive and educational environment, you can encourage your children to develop lifelong healthy eating habits. Karamu Nutrition Program’s goal is to provide low-cost and high-quality services to Tennessee childcare providers across the state. The nutrition of our youth will help shape the future and following tips like these are small steps to help us get there as a society. Visit karamu.org for more information to donate today!