Spring is fast approaching here in the Ozarks; there are tiny burgundy buds lacing my maple tree outside, and birds are singing and grasping at foliage for their nests. Spring is a time where we can start to be active, engaged, and conscious about our lifestyles. And being a momma of three boys, I like to focus on nutrient dense food choices to fuel my active kids. I feel great when I see them eat real food, yet, sometimes it’s harder said than done. Ever been in a food rut? Where your kids are eating so many snacks yet throwing any attempt you give at a meaningful dinner on the floor? When grocery shopping, let alone cooking, seems like an unobtainable obstacle course? When dinner is no longer comfort but chaos? So you get take-out a few too many times, and buy the uncured beef hotdogs and whole grain chicken nuggets in an attempt to make sure they eat something, anything slightly better than a fast food corndog?
That’s where I’ve been lately. Sure, I have my reasons: I just gave birth to my third boy, I’m a full time stay-at-home momma and part time entrepreneur, my husband works 11 hour days, and I’m juggling intense back pain on top of it. Still, I realized a few days ago that the pattern of cheese pizza and corndogs has gotten to my two toddlers, and I’m ashamed that they haven’t eaten a real vegetable or any fruit besides an apple in over two weeks. This, my fellow mommas, is the epitome of a food rut. And I need help getting out of it!
I always start out by making a simple meal plan, using recipes from blogs or websites, whenever this happens (yeah, this has happened before). It takes the pressure off me to create some magical dishes that my family will eat and enjoy, and making a meal plan means that I can easily make a grocery shopping list, which means my postpartum self doesn’t have to go into the store–my husband or a willing friend can easily pick all the items up off my list. My favorite go to website for this has been Produce for Kids.
I’ve browsed their website before to get inspiration for meals my kids may like to eat, but the past few weeks of fast food and peanut butter crackers requires a little bit more than inspiration. I have needed a totally no-brainer solution. This is where Produce for Kids shines. There’s over 400 recipes that are dietician approved, and it wasn’t hard to pick out five recipes that I know my kids will love, like Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Cauliflower Rice Casserole, Shepherd’s Pie,, and Peach Yogurt Smoothies. I even found recipes that my incredibly picky husband will go wild about, like these Citrus Shrimp Tacos.
Produce for Kids isn’t just a great resource for healthy recipes: they offer great information on what’s in season (which translates into lower prices for us), health benefits of individual fruits and veggies, and how to pick and prepare produce as well. You can finally pick the perfect avocado (trust me, nothing is more rewarding than a perfect avocado).
If you shop at any of (these stores?), you might have already noticed the Produce for Kids campaign signage up around the produce section. That’s because Produce for Kids works with several organizations and sponsors that we already know and love throughout the year to provide children and families across America with real food with their in store campaigns. When you see Produce for Kids signage, that’s your green light to indulge in your favorite brands like Dole, Sunkist, Organicgirl, and The Little Potato Company (to name a few); these brands also partner with Produce for Kids to give back to Feeding America.
These campaigns have been extremely successful in the past; since 2002 Produce for Kids has been able to donate more than 6.4 million to charities nationwide. These are food banks across America that help families have access to nutrient dense foods, helping kids learn healthy eating habits and parents feel capable of providing healthier foods as well. The resources that Produce for Kids offer are substantial and significant, especially when we consider that some families don’t have access to resources that help them understand how to use fresh fruits and veggies in their daily lives.
Did you know that 13.1 million children live in food insecure homes in America? That is 13.1 million children too many.
We all know that the children of today shape the world of tomorrow. I see it in my children as their eyes light up, watching a worm wiggle in the garden bed. I see it as they question everything placed in front of them: the children we raise will bring to this world more innovation, peace, and understanding than we can fathom. And we all know that their ability to do this rests in their health, mental and physical. Produce for Kids’ slogan is, “Creating a Healthier Generation.” Isn’t that what all of us mommas strive to be a part of as we raise our own kids?
That’s part of why this food rut I’m in is something I want to climb out of: I want my children to understand, appreciate, and actually eat food that will help them thrive. And if you’re a fellow food rut momma like me, now you know where to turn for simple, versatile, nutritious, and dietician-approved snacks and meals for your family. And you’ll also get the added bonus of contributing to a company that helps families do the same, starting with your local community, when you shop at stores that work with Produce for Kids (I’m willing to bet you already shop at most of them).