Children are not consuming enough vegetables. In fact, only 6% of children aged 2-17 years of age eat the recommended amount, according to a recent data from the Australian Health Surveys. 

As a parent with two young kids, I understand the frustration in trying to get your children to establish healthy eating habits, especially when they have an aversion to vegetables.

But there are tips and tricks to help your child form those good dietary habits, even getting them to increase their vegetable intake by more than half a serving per day, that can help prevent negative health outcomes during childhood and later in life. 

Meal planning for lunches

Over the weekend, if you can, squeeze in 15 mins to plan the 3 or 4 veggies you want to include in your child’s lunch box for that week. After buying your weekly grocery shop, spend 10 mins prepping your fresh veggies – just chopping up those 3 or 4 vegs and tossing them into containers. 

When those busy, frantic mornings hit you can feel comfortable know they will have at least one serve of vegetables sandwiched between the other things they love to eat. 

Did you know legumes count as vegetables? Whether they are dried, canned or cooked, legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans provide fibre, protein and other essential nutrients for children. Don’t be shy of canned vegetables as they can be a time saver. 

Bonus money saving tip: Aim to use vegetables when they are in season when they are cheaper, and tastier.

To take it one step further, try to include vegetables on the menu throughout the day when you’re with them. This makes vegetables the ‘norm’ and it also means you do not have to fit all of the vegetables into one main meal. 

Eating the rainbow

Providing a variety of color vegetables helps children learn to enjoy new foods, and ensure they get a range of different nutrients from vegetables of different colours.

Sometimes a simple arrangement of the food can go a long way with kids. For instance, you could make a tropical rainbow fruit salad using oranges, strawberries, mango, and kiwi. 

Try stir frying your own mix of vegetables using primary colored veggies like red onions, carrots, baby corn, and broccoli and arranging it a rainbow or their favorite animal shape. 

Covert vegetables

Find recipes that uses vegetables as the base like spinach and cheese muffins, zucchini and spinach tots, roast pumpkin dip or even pizza with vegetables. 

These are also great additions to pop into lunches or eat as leftovers for an afterschool snack.

 VegKit from VegEducation has put together an easy recipe sheet that helps parents and caregivers’ tips to include 7 days of veggie snacks. 

Adding vegetables in ‘covert’ ways can pack a positive punch and could help them consume an extra serve of veggies a day. 

Lastly, get your kids involved! 

There is nothing quite like growing your first piece of fruit or vegetables in your backyard at home. Whether it’s a small tomato or zucchini patch or just a herb garden, getting your kids’ hands dirty and involved will make them proud when you serve it at the table. Make it fun!

Make an avocado and strawberry smoothie with them dropping ingredients into the blender and watch their face light up when it turns pink and tastes good. Get them involved in preparing a yummy herb mix for the vegetables or making a sauce. The more they feel part of the decision making and creation, the more engaged they will be when it comes to dinner time. 

Improving children’s vegetable consumption is not just a matter of filling their plates—it’s about nurturing a lifelong relationship with nutritious food. By reimagining education, role modelling and involvement – we can sow the seeds for a healthier, happier generation. It’s time to cultivate change, one bite at a time.


Thanks to Ravi Patel at VEGEducation