How to get kids to eat healthy meals

How to get kids to eat healthy meals

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As our kids go back to school, some planning and creativity will go a long way in establishing healthy eating habits.

FOX 13 News takes you to Seattle’s FareStart Kitchen where an executive chef hides her secrets for healthy family meals on a budget.

Danielle Ott knows what kids love to eat.

As Executive Chef at FareStart – she also understands what parents aim for when it comes to packing a healthy lunch.

“At FareStart we follow very strict guidelines to provide our children with nutritious meals,” Ott said. “It should include whole grains – we mainly make seasonal and fresh vegetables and fruits from unprocessed foods and generally nutrient-dense foods as well.”

Since 1992, the nonprofit has prepared more than 16 million meals for schools, health care centers, shelters, and daycares.

“We’re substituting ingredients, so if you have a recipe that includes white rice, we’re switching it to whole grain brown rice or if it’s a cheese sauce that probably needs to eliminate allergens or you don’t want all those notes or heavy in fat, we’ll change it up to a vegan sauce.” .

With inflation, some may find it difficult to buy nutritious foods, so Chef Ott suggests planning ahead, sticking to your grocery list, and cooking in bulk when you can, so you can freeze meals for later in the week.

“Find ingredients your family really likes and buy in bulk, other options are always to buy frozen veggies, they are just as nutritious as fresh but will last a little longer,” Ott said.

Another option to cut costs – not eating meat for at least one day a week.

“Sometimes people hear meat and say ‘Oh no, I’m not getting meat, what am I going to do!’ “If you don’t tell them they eat vegan, they may not notice.”

Chef Ott says one of the best ways to help your kids form healthy eating habits is to get them involved.

“Take them grocery shopping and ask them to choose the fruit they want to eat or which vegetables they want to eat or try, and then when they get older, have them participate in recipe planning, and have them work with you on a recipe if you do bulk cooking,”

Chef Ott says it’s important to set a good example and eat healthy meals with your child. And when it comes to introducing reluctant kids to new healthy foods, don’t be discouraged.

“It’s always important to fill their plate with something nutritious that you know he currently likes and can fill up and then take the new item and give him a smaller portion and see if he likes to eat it or not, like that, it’s okay.”

FareStart is a James Beard Award-winning non-profit organization Transforms lives, disrupts poverty, and nurtures communities through food, life skills, and job training. FareStart provides hands-on training to students through its social companies. Since 1992, FareStart has provided opportunities to more than 11,000 adults and young adults, while serving more than 16.6 million meals in Seattle-area schools, homeless shelters, and health care facilities. 74% of adults who graduate from FareStart find employment within 90 days of graduating. For more information visit

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