Welcome to the Thunderdome. You’ve done it. You want to get your kids involved with your Whole30 because seriously who wants to cook all day long? Also – I’m pretty sure you’d love to get your kids to eat more protein and vegetables. Before you anticipate the moans and groans coming from the kids, I’m here to help you get on the offensive and you won’t have to hear the tantrums.
- Let’s start at the basics – have them help you plan.
Keep a stack of Whole30 cookbooks (we love Fast & Easy & Slow Cooker), your smart device at the ready, and really any cookbook that you know will have easily modified recipes. You will also want to keep a stack of sticky notes or flags at the ready. We like to keep yellow ones for Meal 1 (aka breakfast), blue for Meals 2 & 3 (aka lunch & dinner), and pink ones for their snacks or my pre- / post- workout meals. You can also very easily just make it simple – batch meal prep 3 – 4 types of proteins, roast 3 kinds of vegetables, and have some at the ready for fresh bowls.
Now, this may be difficult because you’ll likely want to take charge of the menu planning but let them have at it. If a recipe doesn’t have a photo, explain what it is to your kids. Your children will want to be part of the decision making process. We typically make Thursday nights our “Menu Planning” night. Each kid gets their set of sticky notes to prevent that infighting that can (does) happen. We also like to flip through recipes online (hey there # on instagram). If we find one there, I make a note on a sticky note where we found it and place it to the side.We typically eat leftovers for meal 2 in our house and the kids love taking their lunch boxes to school and showing their friends what they are eating.
2. Make the grocery list a game for them.
Go down the list of ingredients with your kids. If they’re learning how to read, perfect they can sound out what the ingredients are and practice their literacy skills. If they’re ready for a challenge, have them tell you what kind of item that is. We typically separate ours in vegetables, fruits, then proteins, fats, and canned items.
3. Let’s go shopping (or not)
We no longer do this… thank you grocery delivery! However, when we were doing this, or if my kids really want to go I highly encourage this because it really helps them appreciate the food and be part of the process. Show them exactly how to find the ripe items. Show them why you prefer to purchase organic and lean cuts of meat.
4. Prep & cook
I recommend you don’t meal prep on the days you go grocery shopping but sometimes you just do what you have to do. No matter the age (unless they’re strapped to you in a carrier), the kids can still very much be part of the process. Have them wash the vegetables you’re about to prep up. For us carrots, celery, cucumbers, sweet peppers are all part of the fun and games. They can easily help you wash them off, once you’ve cut the produce get them into containers to pop in the fridge. We really enjoy batch meal prep and making a buffet for the week. If we know that we’re going to have ground beef a few times in the week – we just brown it up and have it ready for the meals. Hard boiled eggs take no more than 10 minutes to cook. All the while you could have a sheet pan of compliant sausage, red peppers, onions, mushrooms in the oven because you worked up an appetite meal prepping.
5. Let good enough be good enough
Some weeks you may just be like, “Nope – we’re going to Zoe’s (if you’re lucky to have one in your town),” and that’s ok. Some nights you may be coming home from your 4th baseball practice of the week and you forgot to get things in the slow cooker – but it’s ok because you batch prepped some hard boiled eggs, you have some compliant Caesar dressing (thanks Primal Kitchen), and some vegetables (don’t even stress yourself if you don’t have romaine).
Being a mom is hard, but I’ve honestly been able to find that “balance” with our family nutrition when it comes to integrating Whole30 with our lifestyle. You got this mama!