Always, always, always serve a fruit or a vegetable or three at each meal. Then snack on them throughout the day too. Fill your body with the nourishment that comes from these wonderful convenience foods!
Without a doubt, eating fruits and veggies is the easiest way to eat healthy. Yet somehow, it is often the food group that is left out of a meal and forgotten as a snack option. Why is that? Why does it sometimes seem hard to serve vegetables with our dinner? Or to pack them in our lunch? After all, most of them come pre-packaged! (Banana, anyone?)
I find that I have to make a conscious effort to be sure to serve enough fruits and vegetables to my family. Often, we focus on cooking the main dish (which is typically meat and carbs – both good, but only when balanced with fruits and vegetables). Side dishes in the form of fruits or vegetables are often an after-thought. Let’s make this easier, shall we?
1. Buy Them
Duh, but still. You can’t serve them and eat them if you don’t bring them home from the store or farmer’s market, so I felt it was worth a mention. Get into the habit of spending several minutes in the produce department each time you’re at the store. Look for sales, look for a variety, fill your cart. Shop for them when you’re hungry (something I would not recommend if I were to send you down the candy aisle).
2. Keep frozen fruits and vegetables in the freezer at all times
They aren’t expensive (generally). They aren’t difficult to store. When I have frozen green beans and peas in the freezer, I can easily cook them to go with our lunch or dinner. Our family goes through about two – 5 pound bags of these frozen veggies every month. It’s one of the easiest foods to prepare, and they taste delicious with our meals.
3. Corn is not a vegetable
Sorry, but it’s a grain. Enjoy it every once in a while (with butter!), but don’t rely on it as a vegetable side dish.
4. French fries don’t count
But you knew that, right?
5. Keep containers of fruits and vegetables in the fridge, ready to eat
See that picture above? Cutting those veggies into a bowl took about 7 minutes, and will last our family through a couple of lunches. Washing the blueberries and grape tomatoes took just a few seconds. That picture shows what I have now gotten into the habit of putting out to go with our main dish at lunch. The kinds of fruits and veggies vary depending on what I find at the store that is reasonably priced and looks good. But quickly pulling those foods out of the fridge to go with a meal is crazy easy.
6. Serve salads often
Don’t tell me it’s hard. A two year old can tear lettuce.
7. Enjoy smoothies frequently
Smoothies are a delicious way to load up on the good stuff! As an added nutritional perk, I almost always add fresh spinach or other salad greens to my smoothies, along with different frozen fruits and some yogurt or kefir. You can’t taste the greens, but you still get the nutrients. Score!
8. Just do it!
I don’t care if all you do is (lovingly) slap a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich onto the table or into a lunchbox for your kids. Take two minutes to serve or pack fruits and veggies too.
By the way, I also try to always have Homemade Ranch Dip in the fridge to put on the table with our veggies. There are many fruit and vegetable options – and eating a variety, buying in season, and watching for sales is very helpful. Here are some great, basic options to keep on hand to serve with meals or as snacks:
Apples, bananas, oranges or clementines, blueberries, pears, grapes, cherries, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, fresh pineapple chunks, applesauce, grape tomatoes, carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers, sliced sweet peppers, frozen green beans, frozen peas, frozen and/or fresh broccoli…
What would you add to this list? What have you found that works best for you to keep you in the habit of serving and eating vegetables?