My kids are pretty healthy eaters, as kids go. Sure, if they had their druthers we’d be eating hot dogs with macaroni and cheese from a box for dinner every night. But I’ve made it my mission to teach them good eating habits and encourage them to make healthy choices whenever possible. It is paying off, too. I’ve recently begun to notice that they seem to be a bit better than many of their peers at self-monitoring what and how much they eat at social gatherings.
One tool I’ve developed that has helped is the Kid Menu Card (pictured above). I made folders for each child with internal pockets to hold laminated food item cards (lamination just because I am a geek who will use any excuse to get out my beloved laminator, but lamination is certainly not required). Each day, as part of their daily routine, they make selections from a wide variety of menu choices that are mom-approved for both breakfast and lunch. Here are just a few of the benefits of this system:
- No more wasted food or uneaten school lunches since they get to decide what goes in them.
- Kids enjoy a greater sense of control over what they are eating, even though I still have the ultimate say over what the options are.
- Increased awareness of what comprises a well-balanced meal and healthy choices, the first step in developing good eating habits for later in life.
Since they fill out their menus each morning for the following day, it enables me to make their lunches at any time throughout the day that is convenient for me…even if they are not around. Best of all, because I remove cards as we run out of food items, I have a built-in grocery list at the end of the week!
Below is a link to a PDF containing a printable menu card with instructions for assembling it. If you don’t like the options provided, you can easily make your own by simply writing a description on pieces of card stock. (I admit that not ALL of the cards are completely healthy options, but hey…all broccoli and no chocolate makes Jack a dull boy!)