Quick, Easy and Affordable: Healthy Meal Tips for Kids

Getting your kids to eat healthy doesn't have to be a battle. It doesn't even have to be time consuming or expensive. There are plenty of things you can do to ensure that breakfasts, lunches, dinners even snacks are inexpensive, easy to prepare and good for the whole family.

The Basics
Kids need the same kinds of healthy foods that adults do with more of those vitamins and minerals that will help them to grow big and strong. This is where things like whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies and healthy proteins come in. Make sure to expose them to a variety of different foods to keep their diets diverse and their taste buds entertained.

After you've selected all of the nutritious choices you'll provide for your kids, make sure to eat as many meals together as possible. Cooking more meals at home gives you the ability to cut costs and control their nutrition.

If you're having trouble getting your kids excited about healthy eating, try getting them involved in helping to shop for and prepare the meals. Even the littlest hands can help wash veggies and mix ingredients.

Breakfast
Most importantly don't let them skip it. Healthy nutrition is crucial to academic performance at school during the day and mental alertness. Stick to choices with lots of fiber like whole grains, some protein and good fats. Eggs, unsweetened yogurt, cottage cheese, nut butters, and berries and nuts are all excellent options.

Lunch
Brown bag nutrition is the way to go! Healthier than cafeteria fare, lunches should include foods from at least three of the food groups. Let kids help pick and prepare foods so they are more interested, and make lunches the night before so it's easier to get out the door in the morning.

The lunch times at school aren't always long, so make sure to pack foods that are easy to eat and get into. Peel the oranges for them ahead of time, for example.

If your little one is in elementary school they will most likely get a mid-morning snack time, so don't forget to add something in like a sliced banana or apple with peanut butter.

Other great lunch options include hummus, sandwiches, whole grain crackers, raw cut up veggies, hard boiled eggs, milkeven leftovers from dinner the night before.

They'll probably still beg for junk food, so be prepared with healthier alternatives like graham crackers, fig bars, trail mix, pretzels and baked chips.

Dinner
Having healthy options for dinner is all about meal planning and preparing things ahead of time when you've got a busy schedule filled with kids' activities. Crock-pots are a great option for having something hot and ready when you get home at night.

Stick to lean proteins like chicken, fish and turkey even beans, and don't forget that there is no limit to greens!

Snacks
Snacks should be a combination of protein and carbohydrates. The more nutrients the snack has, the more filling it will be. Limit refined carbohydrates like candy, white bread, pasta, rice and cookies.

Snack time is a great time of day to give them something they're missing in their diet. If they haven't had any fruit all day, try a smoothie with yogurt and fruit or a banana with peanut butter. Veggies with ranch or hummus are great too, and for the salty and crunchy cravings, try light popcorn with a little Parmesan cheese.