I used to love grocery shopping with my mom when I was a kid. Whether it was riding on top of the shopping cart or running up and down the aisles, it was almost as if the supermarket was my playground. Little did I know that I'd grow to really love the supermarket. Unfortunately for many people, grocery shopping has become a chore, so why not turn the tables and treat it as a fun activity with your kids?
The produce aisle is filled with endless possibilities. From round, red tomatoes to spiky, yellow pineapples – it's the perfect arena to inspire your kids to cook or spark their creativity. It's also a great place to teach them a few tips for healthy eating, which is extremely important to do while they're still young. In fact, studies show that early experiences with a diverse selection of foods play an important role in future food attitudes. By exposing your children to different types of produce, you are broadening their food spectrum and increasing the likelihood that they will have a positive attitude toward that food in the future.
So instead of crossing your fingers and hoping little Sally doesn't have a meltdown in Aisle 6, make grocery shopping a positive experience for you and your kids. Head straight to the produce aisle to try a few of the activities below. Before you know it, you might see your kids choosing to order something other than chicken nuggets and french fries for dinner!
Quiz kids on their produce knowledge. Every parent has heard kids ask the infamous "why?" question. Let's turn the tables on them and quiz kids on their knowledge of fruits and veggies. Remember that this isn't a school test. Most kids really enjoy sharing their knowledge, so have fun with it. The prompts can be as simple as, "Name all the red fruits and veggies" and as difficult as, "Tell me why kale is good for us."
Let them help you plan a family dinner. Studies show that family meal frequency during adolescence correlates with higher intakes of fruits and vegetables and lower intakes of soft drinks during young adulthood. Have your kids pick out a new vegetable (or one they already love) and help you figure out how to prepare it. They can pick out a fun combination of colors to saute together or maybe a fun shape – zucchini stars are always a big hit. Giving kids a choice keeps them interested in what they'll be eating, which means they may be more likely to actually eat it! Sounds like a win-win to me.
Have a scavenger hunt in the produce aisle. Kids love searching for and finding things, so have them do just that and give them nutrition knowledge at the same time. Before heading to the store, make a list of a few fruits and veggies. Once you get there, send the kids on a scavenger hunt. When they bring the items back to you, ask the kids questions about the fruits and veggies and tell you why they are not only delicious but also nutritious for them.
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Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City, and Nutritious Life Meals, a gourmet, healthy, daily diet delivery program available across the country. She is a member of Women's Health Magazine's advisory board and has authored Slim Calm Sexy Diet, The O2 Diet, and The Snack Factor Diet. Her fourth book, The New You and Improved Diet, will be released in December. Her expertise is regularly featured on the Today show, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood Live, among others, and she hosts "A Little Bit Better" on YouTube's Livestrong Woman channel. Read more of Keri's tips every day on Facebook!