I often get asked about snacks and practical ways that busy families can ensure that their pantry is healthy and nutritious. Children come home from school absolutely ravenous and because we’re often busy, we don’t always have something prepared and have to resort to convenience foods.
In many cases, these packaged convenience snacks can contain little nutritional value, low fibre, high sugar and can often can come loaded with artificial colours and preservatives.
Trying to juggle the nutrition element with the convenience factor can feel like an ongoing challenge for many families – especially for those with picky or fussy eaters. With a few simple swaps and some strategies in place, there are most definitely ways to overcome this issue and create a healthy pantry.
One of the first things I mention to families in my clinic and at workshops, is the importance of being able to understand and read product ingredient labels. This is a great way to arm ourselves with purchasing power and nutritional knowledge when at the shops or even browsing online. It’s also something that I feature in depth in my book: Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook.
It's the food that's in the home that we have the most control and influence over - so ensuring that the pantry options on offer are as nutritious as possible goes a long way towards healthy food choices. Here are some practical tips for a healthy pantry:
1. Simple swaps.
Focus on your staples and try to swap anything white for a wholemeal version. For example, if your child likes to have a sandwich or a handful of crackers when they come home from school, simply swapping out white bread or wheat crackers for a high quality whole grain option will immediately boost their nutritional intake.
Replacing processed, high sugar chocolate or jam spreads with nutritious nut butters and homemade options like my Healthy Chocolate Spread or the Wholesome Child Raspberry and Chia jam, which is free from processed sugars. Also consider substituting commercial sauces for easy and simple homemade options that are lower in sugar and sodium. See my Homemade Tomato Sauce recipe.