Dietitian hacks for feeding kids on Christmas day
by Anne Finch, Accredited Practising Dietitian for LiveLighter
- December 12, 2023
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In my family, Christmas is all about The Lunch…. and it’s easy to forget about the other meals in the day. So here are my tips for keeping everyone fed and happy all day long.
A ready-to-grab breakfast
While everyone is bouncing around, waiting to open presents, or heading off for a Christmas swim, it’s great to have a “grabbable” brekkie. One that can be prepped in advance, eaten on the go and provides a substantial start to what is often a marathon of a day. Try some muesli muffins, overnight oats or mini frittatas. Great last minute options include an avo or peanut butter sandwich, a boiled egg or a smoothie.
I’m a big fan of packing a bunch of familiar and easy-to-eat foods into an esky to bring along when you’re traipsing around between gatherings. It’s not intended to replace The Main Event, but it’s a way to avoid the hangries, and take the pressure off getting “a full meal” on a day that’s pretty topsy-turvy with different meal times and unfamiliar foods. Happier kids and less stressed parents means that Christmas can be fun for everyone! Typical snack box foods for us are cherry tomatoes, snow peas, berries, baby corn spears (our fave “no chop” fruit and veg!), grainy crackers, cheese and nuts. Leftover “ready-to-grab” breakfast options are good inclusions too. There are heaps of ideas over here on our snack plate dinner “recipe”.
Bring a colourful plate
I often bring a family fave as my “plate to share”. That way if the kids aren’t feeling up to trying something new, there’s something on the table that’s familiar, and they can confidently join in the shared experience. I try and make it something that is fruit or vegetable “forward”, and it’s not just kids that benefit from eating their rainbows! There’s so much gorgeous seasonal produce in summer, why not make your share plate something bursting with colour? Mango salad, a bright strawberry drink, BBQ corn with pops of flavour, or seafood and avo “boats” are all right at home on a festive table.
It’s hot, it’s busy, and it’s easy to forget to hydrate! BYO water bottles and let the littlies know where they’ll be kept. Sparkling water with some slices of fruit or fresh herbs is a lovely way to jazz up the offerings and provides an appealing alcohol-free alternative for the adults too.
We love leftovers, and to keep them safe to eat (especially for kids and older adults who get hit by gastro the worst), it’s important to take care of them. A good rule of thumb is that if perishable food has been out for 2-4 hours, eat it immediately or put it in the compost – it’s not safe to pack away and eat another time. Pop food back in the fridge within two hours of putting it out to reduce the risk of food borne illness. Any food that’s been out for over four hours is getting a bit iffy and should to straight to the compost. We’ve got a great blog with ideas about what to do with those lovely, safely stored leftovers over here.
What’s for dinner?
If you’ve got a dinner event on too, feel free to repeat the steps above! Bring some simple, familiar foods, embrace the chaos, and don’t forget to drink some water.
If anyone is hungry for dinner (or discovers they’re hungry at bed time…), keep it simple. Some of those safely stored leftovers, snack box leftovers, toast or cereal are all easy and totally acceptable dinners.
We’d love to hear some of your tips and tricks for looking after the littles on those big, busy days!