Stock for Success: The Kids’ Kitchen

By Kirby Branciforte

The kitchen is a place where children start to form their habits and feelings about food, learn independence, and develop confidence and skills. Getting your kids on the right path starts with stocking for success – surrounding yourself and your family with foods that deliver on both flavor and health, and eliminating temptation by removing options that don’t support your health goals.

To create a kid-friendly kitchen, keep these three tips in mind:

1. Start Small

You don’t need a complete kitchen overhaul. Take small steps to create a kitchen that puts health within reach: get rid of old or expired items, consider tossing (or donating) foods that don’t support your health goals, or make simple swaps for foods that offer good nutrition.

bread

Wegmans nutritionist, Kirby Branciforte, helps her son August in the kitchen.

2. Honor their preferences

Be sure to keep a variety of food on hand that the kiddos actually like to eat. Show them that you respect their likes and dislikes by providing options that are both kid-approved and support health. Consider options within each food group that your kids would enjoy. Here are a few examples of choices that make for healthy bodies and happy bellies:

  • Whole grains – breads (including ones with softer textures), oatmeal, cereal, colorful quinoa, and popcorn
  • Fruits and veggies – fruit cups in water or 100% juice, dried fruit, veggie soups, sweeter veggies like carrots & bell peppers, soft veggies like potatoes and canned green beans
  • Flavorful add-ins – sauces, salsa, dressings and marinades can make veggies, grains and proteins more appealing to tiny taste buds
kid taking yogurt from the refrigerator

Encourage independence by putting items where kids can help themselves.

3. Make it within reach and ready to eat

Encourage independence by putting items where kids can help themselves. Consider single-serve items and prep what you can ahead of time so children don’t need as much help. For example, place yogurt and cheese sticks in a drawer within reach, and pre-portion snacks like pepper strips or trail mix so they are ready for little hands to grab and go.

Kirby Branciforte, RDN, is a corporate nutritionist for Wegmans Food Markets.