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10 Easy Ways to Eat More Veggies (Eat Well, Spend Less)

Fresh veggies

Vegetables! We all know they're good for the body, and summer is the perfect time to make sure we're eating plenty of vegetables. Here are my tips and tricks for making sure my family gets their fill of veggies!


Veggie sticks and homemade hummus (from the freezer)

1. Prep ahead. This one is key: Make sure your fridge is stocked with ready-to-eat veggies. Whether this means cutting carrot sticks by the bag-full or buying baby carrots, do what it takes. Celery, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, and sugar snap peas are some of our favorite fresh vegetables. Have your favorites ready so when you're hungry, you grab them.

Tip: My boys (8 and 6) love to help me peel carrots or make veggie sticks! And kids love eating food that they're helped grow or prepare, so that's an added motivation to get them in the kitchen and involved.

Plan Ahead for Healthy Snacks

5 Ways to Make Food Prep More Fun

Salads for the week: Making time for healthy eating

11 Tips for Kids in the Kitchen Without Losing Your Sanity

Guacamole ingredients
Ingredients for Creamy Guacamole

2. Give fewer options at meal times or snack times, and include veggies. If you serve a dinner of three different foods, you'll end up eating more of each item than if you serve five foods. Unless you're serving several vegetable dishes, limit the choices for everyday dinners and snacks and your children will surprise you by eating more -- because they're still hungry! :)

Tip: Only buy/offer healthy snacks and if they're hungry, that's what they'll eat.

Dill dip
Veggie sticks with Dill Dip

3. Have a 1-bite rule. If certain family members don't like vegetables, require at least 1 bite of the vegetable being served, especially if you're offering dessert. Our children don't get dessert unless they have eaten each of the "regular" foods.

Tip: For foods they like, such as carrot or celery sticks, we often use their age as a requirement for what they should eat. E.g. the 8-year-old needs to eat 8 pieces, the 4-year-old only 4. If they're not hungry enough to eat that, then they don't get dessert (if we're having dessert). Left to their own ways, they would surely be "too full" for the veggies and hungry for treats or snacks later! ;)

4. Serve main dish salads.

Tip: My family likes it when I make main dish salads but don't combine everything. Joshua then makes his own salad, adding some extra meat or protein. The kids often have their "salads" as piles of separate ingredients on their plates and prefer to eat it that way rather than mixed together. I make my salad more along the lines of the original recipe. In the end, we're all satisfied and had fun eating dinner together. :)

5. Make soup; sneak them in. I'm not about being sneaky in the kitchen (Joshua's nose and eyes are much too keen for that!) but I've found that it's easy for us to eat bowl after bowl of vegetable soup or another healthy soup filled with veggies.

Other recipes can handle having a few extra veggies thrown in as well, especially if it's something in season and you're bursting at the seams with extras! :)

6. Serve and eat the veggies first at meal times. We like to serve small portions of the main dish with a hearty helping of vegetables, and the plate needs to be completely cleared before second-helpings of the main dish are given. This should be done age-appropriately, of course; our children almost always clean their plates and have seconds of whatever they liked best.

7. Serve veggies at every meal and every dinner. Having pizza? Serve veggies or a salad on the side. Don't let one-dish meals with a few veggies buried beneath cheese sauce or gravy be the only vegetable you serve at dinner!

Tip: Cook some frozen veggies, make a salad, or pull out your already-prepped raw veggies for a fast, healthy side dish. You'll eat less pizza that way, too. ;)

Chicken Squash Bake recipe
Chicken Squash Bake: one of our seasonal favorites that's on our menu this week!

8. Eat what's in season for the best quality. Vegetables are best when they're at their freshest, so eat what's in season (often also on sale!) or ready in your garden. This helps get some natural variety in your vegetable intake, as well.

Tip: Buy frozen veggies and mix for variety; buy frozen stir-fry veggies for a pre-done mixture that's a cinch to cook and serve.

Stir-fry veggies
Costco's Stir-Fry Vegetable Blend: Preheat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat; add oil and frozen veggies. Sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds. Stir frequently and saute until crisp-tender. Serve with grilled or baked fish, chicken, or meat of your choice!

9. Get creative with how you're serving your veggies. Don't just boil or steam them. Boil, steam, grill outside, saute on the stove top, or roast in the oven for more variety and flavor!

Tabbouleh
Tabbouleh, one of my top favorite summer salads

10. Find veggie alternatives for a less-healthful ingredient. Instead of serving tacos in flour tortillas, serve them in iceberg lettuce leaves or artisan lettuce "cups". Instead of stuffing tuna salad into a pita, serve it over a green salad. Load up that omelet with diced tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers and cut back the cheese.

Tip: If your family's not on board with lettuce cup taco tortillas, remember: you can serve everything separately and they can pick and choose. Maybe they'll want to try one after they see you enjoying yours! :)

Eat Well, Spend Less series

This post is part of the Eat Well, Spend Less series! I'll be back with more from this series in a couple days! :)

Comments

Veggies

I got a juicer for $10 that was only used once or twice. I found that I can juice 1 tomato, 1 carrot, 1 celery, and some greens and make a delicious juice for breakfast or a morning snack. A great way to get veggies in! The pulp can be used to make homemade biscuits, crackers, or as an add-in in smoothies.

Lindsey Swinborne

OH MY!!! Your chicken and

OH MY!!! Your chicken and squash bake looks delish!! Unfortunately the butter and cheese is not on the diet... but maybe on a 'splurge' day... oh yeah!!!!

I'm just lovin' stir fry meals lately... fish or chicken sauteed with onions, peppers, zucchini/yellow squash, broccoli, cauliflower, along with my newest spice of choice ... curry powder. A meal in a pan!!!!

Hi Tammy I am fortunate that

Hi Tammy

I am fortunate that my two children will eat their vegetables, although my 3 year old isn't too keen on raw veg, although he will nibble cucumber and tomatoes. I put veg into almost all of my family meals - when I make my batches of spaghetti sauce in my crockpot, I have vegetables in, also chili, macaroni cheese, fried rice, I have even been known to put them in my pizza sauce! Anywhere I can sneak them in, plus they add a lot of flavour.

Smiles

KarlaG

The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee; and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:22-26)

Great tips. My girl loves

Great tips. My girl loves vegetables - even ones my husband and I don't, like brussel sprouts. But she's not big on meat so we do the age rule and give her small first portions that she needs to eat all of before she can get seconds. If not, she'll (temporarily) fill up on tomatoes and say she's staving 30 minutes later.

Sneaking Veggies In meals

You can "sneak" vegetables in meatloaf, too. Or meatballs with spaghetti. Yumm! We love all kinds of vegetables. Some more so than others. I love the chunky spaghetti sauce, and have been known to put more vegetables in there. And what about sneaking zucchini into bread and cakes? Yumm.

Great Tips Tammy!

Wow, you have got some great tips. We love our fruits and vegetables here! I've learned that they are a must have in my home. The fiber and nutrients in them keep my children a lot fuller than packaged snacks and out of the box dinners. Not to mention all of the vitamins and minerals that come free with fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables. Here are some ways we use vegetables in our home:

* Smoothies ( spinach, kale, parsley, lettuce, etc w/ fruits & powdered herbs)

* Chicken or Egg Salad ( I always add grapes and chives to my chicken salad & pepper, chives, & cut pickles to my egg salad.I then serve them over a bed of spinach. It looks pretty & tastes great too.)

* Omelet's (My husband makes some delicious omelet's with mushrooms, spinach, onion, cheese, sausage (sometimes), and tomatoes. Our five children love them!)

* Salads ( Many nights we will have a salad as a side as well as a cooked vegetable side. So we all get more greens, but there is a comfort there of the cooked vegetables for those who aren't "excited" about salad.

Vegetables are a great filler as they are low in calories & rich in nutrients & filling fiber. Thanks for all of your info Tammy. Please come visit me at my new blog http://thevintageentertainer.blogspot.com/. Mrs.Clark

What to do with too much zucchini

great post for this time of year!

http://thelocalcook.com/2010/07/27/what-do-i-do-with-too-much-zucchini/

Learning to Love Veggies

I really appreciate your blog. You just seem like a down-to-earth mama who is purposeful with her resources. These are all great ideas.

We've greatly increased our vegetable consumption by participating in Bountiful Baskets. It has been such a blessing to us, and I've been ordering 3 baskets for our family of 7 (though one is a still just a sweet nursing baby) every other week. By getting such an abundance and variety I am challenged (in a good way) to use it all before it goes bad. I'll often prep the raw veggies and put in lidded Pyrex dishes making veggie platters a staple at most lunch and dinners. I try to have 3-4 different veggies in each platter and tell the kids they have to take 2 kinds which gets them eating some variety but avoids lots of food fights for certain children who have an aversion to specific kinds. My meal planning and the rest of my shopping have changed quite a bit since we started Bountiful Baskets because I am centering our meals around the fresh produce rather than meats or grains. On the off weeks I pick up basics like bananas, spinach and carrots at Costco. And some homemade ranch dressing seems to help my kids enjoy veggies more, and I'm okay with that. :)

pursuitsofheartandhome.blogspot.com

Great tips! I have a husband

Great tips!

I have a husband that's very picky. Before we got on track with eating healthier (within that last four months - We love MyFitnessPal too!), he wouldn't eat most veggies. He could handle corn on the cob (or very buttery fresh corn off the cob) and potatoes, but that's about it. We had bought a grill last fall too, so he started grilling a lot this year. Between the grill and just wanting to eat healthier, he's had - and will now willingly eat/make(!) - asparagus, fresh green beans, barely buttered corn AND he doesn't pick out he veggies I put in things like store-bought pasta sauce. One of his recent favorite meals was whole wheat spaghetti with chorizo, sauteed carrots, onion and bell peppers. I told him if he didn't like all the veggies he could just add a pasta sauce, but he loved it as it was! the other favorite is grilled chicken and corn in a salad. He had a southwest salad at McDonald's and liked it so much he wanted to make it at home.. so we've had that for supper many times :)

Now, to work on my 2 year-old that rarely eats veggies...

Great tips!

We do most of these things, and they are very useful! Here are a few others that have worked for me:

When I was growing up, my mom typically made two vegetables for dinner; everybody had to eat at least one of them, but we did not have to try both. That made for a lot less arguing. I think she started this because my dad is so picky about vegetables! If she had only served the ones he likes, my brother and I would have been exposed to a narrower range of veggies.

My family now eats a lot of meals that have one or more veggies as a main ingredient, rather than a side dish: Red & Green Pockets and Sweet Potato Burritos and Loubie are some favorites.

When my son really enjoys a vegetable dish and eats a large amount, I make a mental note of it and back off on insisting that he eat veggies in the next 24 hours or so. Of course I still make them available, but I figure if he chooses to skimp on them at the next few meals it will balance out!

veggies

Hello Tammy,
I'm wondering if you have any interesting ways to prepare turnips?

Please be thoughtful & use

Please be thoughtful & use caution with mandatory minimum servings & "the clean plate club". It can lead to over consumption. It can lead to better health later to let children have some control over which foods & how much. There are foods that I don't like at all & they would ruin a whole meal for me. I know adults with resentment over meal & snack times.

Chopping up veg's in food processor for little one

I know how hard it can be to get little ones to eat raw veggies. Chewing a raw carrot take alot of time and effort on the part of little guys. So I get more veggies into my kids by chopping lots of different veggie up and add them to potato salad, spinach dip, tuna/chicken salad

When making spinach dip I added broccoli, onions, spinach, celery and carrot that have been cut up finely in the food processor. It is amazing how many raw veggies can be consumed this way. I also have ground celery, carrots, onion mayonaise, salt, and pepper and added it to tuna or chicken salad.

I have even ground up whole heads of lettuce this way adding only a few tablespoons of dressing to the lettuce and got our whole family to consume two full heads of lettuce at dinner.

Less chewing=more veggies consumed!!!!! :)

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