The Veggie Box
People are always asking me what I did to make my 3 year old daughter like vegetables so much. Well, firstly, I followed the same timeline of solid food introduction that we teach in our Infant Nutrition Program so she was exposed to all of these foods from an early age. I also have a “veggie box” at the ready all the time.
What is a veggie box? Good question! I’ve attached a photo so you can see the typical options that I like to have on hand. As soon as this box is empty, I am sure to make a new one.
We always, and I mean ALWAYS, have a tupperware container in the refrigerator with a variety of cut up vegetables. I usually choose whatever is cheapest at the markets and go from there but I do try to keep a variety of colours and options. This veggie box is always the first thing offered when Mia requests food or tells me she is hungry. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when she wants a cookie but I always reply with “when you have a carrot and a cucumber, then you can have a cookie”. About 50% of the time, she will eat so many vegetables from the veggie box that she forgets about the cookie and the other 50% of the time, she holds up her end of the bargain eating what I have requested and then I hold up my end and give her a cookie.
If you want your child to eat more vegetables you need to have them ready to go. My first suggestion is to get a box like this ready. You should expect less than 10 minutes to wash, chop and prep these foods. Now, it goes without saying, you need to cut and prepare these according to your child’s chewing ability. I would not be giving a large raw carrot to a 1 year old with only a few teeth. So, you be the judge of what you put in and how it’s cut. Then, while not making a big deal about it, open your veggie box and place it somewhere that your little one can reach. Don’t force them to eat anything, just leave it there. If they request something else, offer this option first and tell them WHEN they eat X, THEN they may have Y. I will save the “when & then” principle for another blog post but for now, trust me! Use those words and see what happens.
For children who seem to dislike vegetables, try starting with a fruit box. Have some rinsed strawberries, blueberries, grapes, kiwi slices, mango cubes and watermelon cubes ready to go. Keep these fruit and veggies boxes accessible and make the packaged cookies and crackers inaccessible. You are the parent, when your children are toddlers, it will always be your choice what is offered to them. Take advantage of that!
The next step, if you’re game, is to involve your child in the chopping. No, I’m not suggesting they wield a knife alone but pop them on a step ladder so they can reach the kitchen counter, stand behind them and hold the knife with them. The more you can expose your children to food preparation, the more likely it is that they will want to eat the food because they were a part of the process.
Do you have a great way to get vegetables into your child’s diet? Comment below and share your successes!