United in Resolution: How Your Family Can Make the Most of the New Year

A new year is upon us, and it may bring with it promises of beginnings and opportunities for positive change. The start of the New Year is not just a marker of time, but it can also be a symbolic moment to reflect on the past and envision a brighter future. In addition, the New Year can be a time when you and your family create your special individual and family New Year’s resolutions. Developing an annual tradition in which all family members think about positivity can foster a sense of personal growth, for children and adults, and may encourage family bonding and improve goal-setting skills. Let’s discuss some strategies for setting New Year’s resolutions individually and within the family context and ideas for implementing practical approaches that can make this activity a meaningful experience for every family member.

Why set New Year’s resolutions with children

When parents or caregivers involve their children in setting New Year’s resolutions, they are modeling positive behaviors and offering children opportunities to learn how to set goals for themselves and begin to understand the value of personal development. Participating in goal setting can teach children responsibility and perseverance and can give them an opportunity to feel joy as they achieve something meaningful. By involving your children in this process, you empower them and strengthen the family bond as you work towards meeting shared objectives and create a tradition to look forward to every year.

The SMART way to set goals

Consider using the SMART goal framework to set your New Year’s resolutions. SMART goals provide a clear roadmap for success and are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Establishing SMART goals can ensure that resolutions set by family members are well defined, realistic, and attainable within a designated time frame.

Let’s break down the components of SMART goals with some examples:

  • Specific: Specify exactly what you want to achieve.
    • Traditional Resolution: “Exercise more.”
    • SMART Resolution: “Take a family walk for 30 minutes every evening after dinner.”
  • Measurable: Establish a way to track your progress, and determine when you have met your goal.
    • Traditional Resolution: “Read more books.”
    • SMART Resolution: “Read one book each month, and discuss it with the family.”
  • Achievable: Ensure that your goal is realistic and attainable.
    • Traditional Resolution: “Learn a new instrument.”
    • SMART Resolution: “Practice the guitar for 15 minutes every day.”
  • Realistic: Set goals that are reasonable and within your capabilities.
    • Traditional Resolution: “Get all A’s in school.”
    • SMART Resolution: “Improve my grades by dedicating 1 hour to homework each school night.”
  • Timely: Define a time frame for accomplishing your goal.
    • Traditional Resolution: “Learn a new language.”
    • SMART Resolution: “Complete an online language course by June.”

Start small and build up

Start small, and set goals that can be easily achieved. Using this approach can increase opportunities for positive feedback, prevent feelings of discouragement, and foster a positive and empowering mindset for all family members. When goals are within one’s grasp, the individual is more likely to stay motivated and committed. Starting small and reaching these goals allow individuals, especially children, a chance to experience the satisfaction of progress and success. Their confidence can also be improved by reaching milestones, and they may find ways to build on those accomplishments! By striving to keep goals attainable, families can set themselves up for a journey filled with achievable milestones, continuous growth, and fun.

Set family resolutions

In addition to each family member setting individual SMART goals, families can set resolutions (or goals) they want to achieve together. These shared objectives can strengthen familial bonds and encourage collective growth. When families set resolutions together, they foster an environment of collaboration and support in which each member plays a vital role in achieving shared aspirations. Listed below are some examples of family resolutions, resolutions for younger children, and resolutions for adolescents and teens.

Weekly Family Meals:

  • SMART Goal: “Have a family meal together once a week and be together at least 30 minutes with no phones at the table.”

Exercise Routine:

  • SMART Goal: “Engage in 30 minutes of family exercise each day and allow each family member the opportunity to choose an activity to engage in that week (e.g., dancing, walking the dog, going to the park).”

Cooking Together:

  • SMART Goal: “Make one evening ‘Family Cook Night’ where the entire family will prepare, cook, and eat a meal together. Each family member will get a chance to choose a meal they would like to prepare.”

Family Game Night:

  • SMART Goal: “Schedule a weekly family game night, and turn off screens to reconnect and enjoy quality time.”

For Younger Children:

  • Daily Chores:
    • SMART Goal: Complete morning routine: Get up, get dressed, make your bed, eat breakfast, and brush your teeth.
  • Reading Habits:
    • SMART Goal: “Read for 20 minutes a day either independently or with a family member.”

For Adolescents/Teens:

  • Screen-Free Time:
    • SMART Goal: Learn/practice a new skill that doesn’t involve the use of a screen.
  • Balanced Lifestyle:
    • SMART Goal: “Go outside for at least 1 hour a day to engage in physical activity like running, biking, tennis, or pickleball.”

Revisit resolutions and goals as needed

Adaptability can be key when it comes to setting goals. Allow flexibility for yourself and your child so you can adjust any pre-established goals throughout the year and encourage success. Kids grow and change rapidly, and their interests and capabilities will evolve. Adjusting goals, as needed, allows for a more realistic and encouraging approach and considers the developmental stage of your child and their priorities. Whether modifying learning objectives, altering extracurricular commitments, or pivoting to a new hobby, parents who can recognize and adapt to these changes can ensure children’s goals remain achievable and aligned with their needs and aspirations. Teaching children the value of flexibility in goal setting can equip them with essential life skills and can foster a resilient and positive attitude toward overcoming challenges.

Incorporating SMART goals into your family’s New Year’s resolutions can set the stage for a successful and fulfilling year. As you embark on this journey together, remember that your commitment to continuous improvement is vital. To further support your resolution-setting endeavors and make this process more rewarding for you and your children, explore the resources listed below. Here’s to a SMART and joyful New Year for your family!

Additional Resources

Cooking to Thrive

Moving to Thrive

Family Media Guidelines

Eating Together as a Family

5210 Tips for Families


Aghera, A., Emery, M., Bounds, R., Bush C, Stansfield, R. B., Gillett, B., & Santen, S. A. (2018, January). A randomized trial of SMART goal enhanced debriefing after simulation to promote educational actions. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 19(1), 112-120. https://doi.org/10.5811/westjem.2017.11.36524

Le, B. M., & Impett, E. A. (2019). Parenting goal pursuit is linked to emotional well-being, relationship quality, and responsiveness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(3), 879-904. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407517747417

Nair, A., Nair, D., Girdhar, M., & Gugnani, A. (2021). Optimizing developmental outcomes by setting smart goals individualized home program for children with disabilities during COVID-19. International Journal of Physiotherapy and Research, 9(5), 4028–4034. https://doi.org/10.16965/ijpr.2021.184

How to Help an Adolescent who is a Picky Eater

Everyone has preferences on what foods they enjoy and what foods they don’t like. Children are no different! The American Academy of Pediatrics (2018) suggests that parents should offer a variety of foods to their children when they start introducing solids. (Information on introducing solids can be found here!)

But, parents of adolescents, who are well beyond the introduction to solid foods, may be wondering what they can do if their child is a picky eater?! Maybe your adolescent has issues with or concerns about trying different foods, or, maybe, they only want to eat their favorite foods. The good news is that there are strategies available to help you, the parent, encourage your older child to be more adventurous with food and to move towards eating a more balanced diet! Each tip, listed below, includes an example of how you can use the strategy presented and work with your adolescent to improve their food choices and eating habits.

Be Positive

Mealtimes can be a time for sharing and connecting. Try to stay positive and avoid becoming frustrated when your choosy eater insists on only eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or pasta with butter night after night. Instead, concentrate on the conversation, so your child can see that mealtimes are pleasant and positive times that do not need to be stressful or full of conflict. Keep your conversation engaging, and focus on topics that your child is interested in. Don’t mention worries or struggles around eating, just allow mealtime to be an engaging social time that encourages connection.

Consider trying the strategy outlined below:
Sit down in a specific place (e.g., kitchen table) that is away from screens for your family meals. Ask for each member to share one positive experience they had that day. Try to focus on how that experience made each person feel, and allow the conversation to flow. Doing this allows everyone to focus on the social interaction they are experiencing, and bonding that can come as a result, and to shift their attention away from any negative thoughts about food.

Talk About It

Have conversations about food with your child at times when you are not eating. Talk to them about what they like and why they like it. Have them describe the different textures, smells, and tastes that they enjoy. Have them describe the feeling or taste with words other than “yucky” or “gross” (Cleveland Clinic, 2022), so you both understand what they like and why they like it. Knowing this can help you find new foods that may be similar to what they already enjoy and find pleasant to eat (AAP, 2018).

Consider trying one of the strategies listed below:
Identify your child’s favorite foods. What do they like about those foods? Try offering descriptive words like salty, crunchy, smooth, sweet, and warm. Mention other foods that fit their descriptions, and make a plan to try a few of these new foods in a taste-testing experiment and include the whole family. For example, your child may tell you they like how crunchy chips or pretzels are. So, try offering vegetable or fruit chips to match the crunchiness that they like.

Identify a food your child says they do not like. Have they actually tried it? If they have, what about it did they not like? Maybe they didn’t like how lumpy it was, or, maybe, the texture was strange to them. If they have not tried the food, ask them why. What is it about the food item that makes them not want to try it? Can you find any foods that they do like that are similar? For example, your child may not want to try broccoli, but they do like cauliflower. You can show them how they look and feel similar!

Let Them Help

Look through kid friendly cookbooks with your adolescent for recipes (make sure there are pictures to go with the recipe), and find something that your child wants to make with you. Remind them that you both will, at least, try a bite. When you go to the grocery store, ask your child to help pick out the ingredients for the recipe they’ve chosen. This allows them to feel some control over what they eat and can make them excited about the food they are willing to try (AAP, 2018). Make sure that you are willing to try new food recipes and food items with them (McCarthy, 2020).

Consider trying the strategy outlined below:
With your child, prepare a recipe that includes one of your child’s favorite foods with a food that your child wants to try. For example, if your child likes alfredo sauce with pasta, consider adding in a vegetable they are willing to try, like broccoli. Or, if your child really enjoys pizza, have them pick out a new vegetable that they can add to their favorite toppings. Allow them to have some control over what they eat, but still limit their choices to ensure that they are making healthier decisions

If you feel like your child is not receiving the correct nutrients or may be underweight due to their picky eating behaviors, contact your child’s pediatrician.

Experimenting with new foods can help encourage children to become more adventurous eaters and can add some fun and family connection to help make mealtimes enjoyable for the entire family. Your child will not like every food they try; you don’t like all foods either. But, keep exploring ways to offer new choices so your child can see that new foods don’t have to be scary, and that you respect their choices and boundaries along the way!

Additional Resources

Cooking to Thrive

Beyond Chicken Nuggets

Picky Eaters

Healthy 5210 Lunches for Back to School

The Picky Eater Project


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2018, April 26). 10 tips for parents of picky eaters. Healthy Children. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/nutrition/Pages/Picky-Eaters.aspx

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2018), September 10). Tips for feeding picky eaters. Healthy Children. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Picky-Eaters.aspx

American Academy of Pediatrics. (n.d.) Recipes. Healthy Children. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/chop-chop-magazine/Pages/default.aspx

Cleveland Clinic. (2022, May 9). How to deal with a picky eater toddler. Health Essentials. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-overcome-your-childs-picky-eating-habits/

McCarthy, C. (2020, June 23). Study gives insight – and advice – on picky eating in children. Harvard Health Blog. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/study-gives-insight-and-advice-on-picky-eating-in-children-2020060920004

Children under 24 months are sweet enough without adding sugar!

Dietary guidelines for Americans are issued every 5 years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services. The 2020-2025 guidelines include updated information about added sugar for children younger than 24 months and recommend these children do not receive any added sugars. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated labels to include information on whether a food has added sugars and how much. 

Read the labels

The biggest sources of added sugars in the typical American diet are soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts, snacks, and candy. An example of information about added sugar in packaged foods is now available on the “Nutrition Facts” label (FDA, 2021).

What is added sugar?

Many foods or beverages have extra sugar and syrups added to them when they are processed or prepared. These added sugars have many different names, such as brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose (FDA, 2021).

Here are a few ideas for how you can help your family reduce added sugar intake:

  • Read nutrition facts labels carefully (CDC, 2020). Many foods now list whether a food has added sugar and/or the amount of added sugar. You also can find information about added sugar by reading the ingredients. Avoid serving foods and drinks with added sugar to children under 2 years old. Learn more about nutrition facts labels here (Healthy Children, 2020).
  • Serve water and milk. Avoid serving soda, sports drinks, sweet tea, sweetened coffee, and fruit drinks. Milk is a good beverage choice, and it contains natural sugar (lactose) and provides calcium, protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients children need.
  • Limit fruit juice. Fruit juice has more sugar per serving than whole fruit. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice a day for children ages 1 through 3 years old. It is recommended that you do not give fruit juice to infants under 1 year old (Healthy Children, 2020).
  • Go fresh and limit processed, pre-packed food and drinks. Sugar is often added to processed and pre-packaged food items while they are being made or at the table. For example, there are hidden sources of added sugar in processed foods like ketchup, dried cranberries, salad dressings, and baked beans (CDC, 2020).
  • Satisfy your child’s sweet tooth with whole fruit (Healthy Children, 2020). Keep bananas, oranges, or grapes in your young child’s line of sight, and offer these and other fruits regularly.

By limiting sugar and avoiding added sugars in your child’s diet, you are helping to ensure proper nutrition and a healthy beginning for your child. An app is available through the USDA My Plate Campaign to help you follow the new guidelines available on the My Plate website (USDA, 2021).



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, December 17). Food and drinks for 6 to 24 months old. Nutrition. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/foods-and-drinks-to-limit.html

Healthy Children. (2019, March 25). How to reduce added sugar in your child’s diet: APA tips. The American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/How-to-Reduce-Added-Sugar-in-Your-Childs-Diet.aspx

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2021, January 4). Changes to nutrition facts labels. https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/changes-nutrition-facts-label

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). What’s on your plate? MyPlate. https://www.myplate.gov

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020,

December). Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 (9th ed.). https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf

Fruits and Vegetables Month

Food can be fun! Colorful fruits and vegetables are a great way to add brightness to your plate and entice your taste buds. You can find a variety of fresh produce at local farmers’ markets. Visiting your local farmers’ markets can be an exciting family outing! You can gather fresh ingredients and colorful fruits and vegetables, and, best of all, it’s something you can do together.

Get your kids involved! Your children may want to help make decisions about what goes on their plates. While in the produce section at the grocery store, help them explore the different fruits and vegetable options. A fun activity could be to pick produce that creates all the colors in the rainbow!

Not only can fruits and vegetables add color and create fun family activities, but they offer many health benefits including lowering cardiovascular disease risk (Bondonno, Bondonno, Ward, Hodgson, & Croft, 2017; Lassale et al., 2016), protecting the body against oxidative stress (Brookie, Best, & Conner, 2018), decreasing mental health disorders (Brookie et al., 2018), promoting nutrient absorption, and acting as anti-obesity agents (Pem & Jeewon, 2015).

As autumn approaches, here are some seasonal favorites you may like to try at home!

Research indicates that eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day will provide the greatest health benefits.

Do your part, live a longer life, and establish healthy life-long habits for your kids!



Bondonno, N. P., Bondonno, C. P., Ward, N. C., Hodgson, J. M., & Croft, K. D. (2017). The cardiovascular health benefits of apples: Whole fruit vs. isolated compounds. Trends in Food Science and Technology, 69, 243–256. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2017.04.012

Brookie, K. L., Best, G. I., & Conner, T. S. (2018). Intake of raw fruits and vegetables is associated with better mental health than intake of processed fruits and vegetables. Frontiers in Psychology, 9(APR), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00487

Lassale, C., Castetbon, K., Laporte, F., Deschamps, V., Vernay, M., Camilleri, G. M., … Kesse-Guyot, E. (2016). Correlations between fruit, vegetables, fish, vitamins, and fatty acids estimated by web-based nonconsecutive dietary records and respective biomarkers of nutritional status. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), 427-438.e5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.09.017

Pem, D., & Jeewon, R. (2015). Fruit and vegetable intake: Benefits and progress of nutrition education interventions- Narrative review article. Iranian Journal of Public Health, 44(10), 1309–1321.


What to do when it’s snack time?

Your child says, “I’m hungry,” but dinner isn’t for another 2 hours. Rather than have your child dig into the pantry or run for the cookie jar,  what can you do to help them fill that hungry void?

Snacks can be a positive or negative component of your child’s diet. Fruits and vegetables are good snacks to serve since most children do not eat the recommended 5 to 13 servings a day. Some popular fruits and vegetables like broccoli, baby carrots, snap peas, celery, blueberries, apricots, kiwi, pears, and peaches are great snacks that will help fill your child up between meals.

Some tips to get nutritious snacks, like fruits and vegetables, to your kids quickly include the following:

  • Chop your fruits and vegetables ahead of time and assemble them in easy grab-and-go areas of the refrigerator.
  • Set fruits out in bowls on the counter so they’re visible and accessible.

Low-fat dairy products are also great for snacking. Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium, and dairy products can fill you up. Popular low-fat dairy foods like yogurt, low-fat cheese, and low-fat pudding or frozen yogurt (these are high in sugar, so use as occasional treats) are good grab-and-go choices.

Some tips for providing low-fat dairy products to your children include the following:

  • Purchase yogurt, pudding, and cheeses in individual servings and make them visible in the refrigerator.
  • Plan ahead for snacks throughout the week so they are fresh.

For more information, visit the Family Toolkits at www.5210.psu.edu and look under Healthy Kid Snacks and Healthy Eating in a Hurry.

Healthy 5210 Lunches for Back-to-School

Back-to-school means adding that extra step of preparing lunches for the school day. Remember the daily dose of at least 5 fruits and vegetables and 0 sweetened beverages when packing school lunches, and try to include a variety of healthy options.

If your kids are picky eaters, try these ideas to help kids eat healthy:

  • Get kids involved and have them help make and pack lunch foods.
  • Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of foods like sandwiches, deli meat, and cheeses.
  • Use wraps and fill them with tuna, chicken, or even veggies to make fun roll-ups.
  • Include fruit, like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries and granola or bran flakes to sprinkle on top of yogurt.
  • Pack individualized items for kids to make their own meals, for example taco fillers, veggie tortilla pizzas, chips and bean salsa, and cracker stackers.
  • Include low-fat dips, like hummus, for vegetables.

If your mornings are rushed, try these ideas to save time:

  • Use dinner leftovers!
  • Pack the night before to save time in the morning.
  • Buy fruits that don’t require manipulation, like bananas, apples, pears, and oranges.
  • Pre-make and cut foods, like hard boiled eggs, carrots, celery, broccoli, cucumbers, cauliflower, and tomatoes for easy grab and go options.
  • Make stackable foods in containers for the next day – or even the week – for example, salads and yogurt parfaits.


Additional Resources:

Back-to-School Healthy Lunch Ideas: http://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/back-to-school-healthy-lunch-ideas—by-devin-alexander

Buying 5210 Fruits and Vegetables on a Budget

Grocery shopping can be challenging when you are on a tight budget, especially when you are trying to purchase enough fruits and vegetables to get the recommended five servings each day for each member of your family. However, there are ways that you can get five servings of fruits and vegetables each day and stay within your budget. Here are a few tips that may help:

Before you shop do the following:

  • Plan your menu for the week before you go shopping. Try to include meals that you can make in large batches and use for lunches or for another dinner later in the week, such as soups, casseroles, and stir-fries.
  • Make a list of the food you need to buy. Making a list will help keep you from buying items you do not need.
  • Join the store loyalty program. Many stores have loyalty cards. When you use these cards, you can buy items at a lower price. You may also get special offers and coupons that non-members do not get.
  • Cut coupons to save money. Remember that coupons only help if they are for items you usually buy. Remember another brand can still cost less even after you use a coupon.
  • Eat before you shop. Grocery shopping when you are hungry makes it more likely you will buy items you do not need and often leads to making unhealthy food choices.

At the store:

  • Buy fruits and vegetables when they are in season. Fruits and vegetables cost less when they are in season. Some fruits and vegetables cost less year-round, such as bananas, apples, oranges, cabbage, sweet potatoes, dark-green leafy vegetables, green peppers, and carrots. You can find a list of what’s in season here https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide
  • When you buy fresh produce, purchase in their whole form. Pre-cut and pre-washed produce is convenient but often costs much more.
  • Purchase frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen food is convenient, nutritious, and economical. Purchase multiple bags of frozen fruits and vegetables when they go on sale. You can also freeze fresh fruits and vegetables, when they are in season, to use later. Choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low-sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
  • Buy canned fruits and vegetables. Canned fruits and vegetables usually cost less than fresh, and they are just as nutritious. Purchase fruits canned in water or in their own juice instead of canned in light or heavy syrup. Look for fruit canned in “100% fruit juice.” For vegetables, purchase low-sodium varieties. Look for “low-sodium” or “no salt added” on the label. You can also rinse canned vegetables to remove some of the sodium.
  • Stock up on fruits and veggies that are on sale. When there are specials on fruits and vegetables, try to stock up if they are frozen or canned. If there is a special on fresh produce, try using it in several meals that week. For example, if broccoli is on sale, use it fresh in salads for lunch and in casseroles or a frittata for dinner.
  • Try buying store brands. Most stores offer their own brand of products that often cost less than name brands.

Use leftovers:

  • If you have leftover fruits and vegetables that are about to go bad, try using them so you don’t waste money. Most fruits and many greens, such as spinach and kale, can be used in smoothies. Fruits can be used on cereal, oatmeal, and ice cream. Many vegetables can be added to soups and casseroles. Or, display the fruits and vegetables you have on a plate with your families’ favorite dips as a snack!


Additional Resources:
Buying Fruits and Vegetables on a Budget: https://extension.psu.edu/buying-fruits-and-vegetables-on-a-budget

Fruits and Vegetables on a Budget: https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/fruits-and-vegetables-on-a-budget

10 Tips: Smart Shopping for Veggies and Fruits: https://choosemyplate-prod.azureedge.net/ten-tips-smart-shopping

Are Canned Fruits and Veggies as Healthy as Fresh: https://5210.psu.edu/canned-frozen-fruits-veggies-healthy-fresh/

Create a Grocery Game Plan: https://choosemyplate-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/budget/grocery_gameplan_interactive.pdf

Are Canned and Frozen Fruits and Veggies as Healthy as Fresh?


Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are a healthy choice! All forms of fruits and vegetables count toward your daily goal of 5 or more servings each day. Using canned and frozen produce provides more variety and convenient packaging and requires little preparation, which makes them easy to serve!

Facts About Canned and Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

  • Most canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are processed within hours after harvesting, so their flavor is preserved and nutrient losses are minimal. The nutrient content is comparable to fresh.
  • Depending on the produce item, canning and freezing may actually preserve the nutrient value and even increase the availability of some nutrients to the body.
  • Studies show that recipes prepared with canned foods had similar nutritional values to those prepared with fresh or frozen ingredients.

Benefits of Using Canned and Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

  • Canned foods are cooked prior to packaging, so they are recipe-ready.
  • Canning locks in the nutrients at their peak of freshness, and, consequently, they have a long shelf life.
  • Frozen foods require little preparation – the washing and slicing is already done.
  • Including frozen and canned fruits and vegetables in your diet can increase variety, especially when some items may not be widely available as fresh.
  • Depending on the time of year and the specific type of produce, purchasing canned and frozen fruits and vegetables can save you money, especially when they are not in season or if you find your fresh produce spoiling before you can eat it.

Remember to Check Sodium and Sugar on the Nutrition Facts Label

  • Sodium is usually added to canned foods to preserve them so look for low-sodium, reduced-sodium, or no-salt-added labeled foods. Compare the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts label, and choose the product with the lowest amount.
  • Drain and rinse canned veggies to reduce sodium even more.
  • Frozen vegetables with sauces and seasonings can have excess salt and added calories.
  • Look for fruit that is canned in water, its own juice, or light syrup. If the fruit is canned in light syrup, drain and rinse before use.
  • Make sure frozen fruits are 100% frozen fruits – no added sugars.

Smart Snack Tips for Healthy Children

The keys to smart snacking for healthy children include storing snacks where your family can see them; making snacks easy to grab and go; and great taste!

Follow these tips for healthy snacks:

  • Offer a variety of healthy foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, at planned times throughout the day. Let children choose whether and how much they eat.
  • Wash and cut up fruits and veggies so they are ready to eat. Have your child help you place fruits and veggies into containers or bags, so they are easy to see!
  • Buy food in single-serve containers for grab-and-go eating, such as juice boxes, raisins, fruit cups, and baby carrots.
  • Walk your children through the kitchen and show them where you keep healthy snack foods. Put healthy snack foods where children can reach them, such as the lower shelves in your refrigerator, pantry, or cabinets. Keep fresh fruit, such as bananas and apples, on the counter where children can see them.
  • Ask your child what snack foods from each food group he or she would like to eat, and purchase those foods so they are available. Children are more likely to eat foods that they are able to choose.
  • Use clear containers and plastic bags or containers covered with plastic wrap, so your family can see what snack foods are inside.

For a list of healthy snack ideas for kids, visit:

Getting Children to Try New Foods

It is common for children to dislike a new food when it is first introduced. Children tend to like foods that are already familiar to them and dislike foods that are unfamiliar to them, which is a normal part of development. Although it may seem like your child is a fussy eater, he or she may just need to become more familiar with the food before he or she decides to try it.

Introduce new foods to children when they are young. Children are more likely to accept new foods when they are younger. It is more difficult to get children to accept new foods beyond toddlerhood.

Tips to encourage children to try a new food:

  • Try pairing the new food with a food they already like or with which they are familiar. For babies, try adding breastmilk or formula to pureed foods. For older children, try pairing a new vegetable with a dip they already like.
  • Role modeling. Children are more likely to try a new food if they see an adult eating the same food. Encourage your child to describe the food (e.g., “This carrot is crunchy”).
  • Provide a variety of foods. Children are more likely to have a varied and balanced diet later in life if they are introduced to a variety of foods, tastes, and textures during weaning and in early childhood. Your child should eat a variety of foods because he or she gets different nutrients from different foods. Fruits and vegetables are particularly important because children’s diets are usually low in these nutritious foods.
  • Try introducing new foods at snack time. This may be a good time to introduce other foods from the same food group or similar foods. For instance, provide a snack of 2-3 different fruits or vegetables from which your child can choose.

Remember – don’t give up too soon! It can take 8-10 tries before your child accepts a new food. Although your child might make facial expressions that show dislike for the food, he or she may still be willing to eat it. Continue to provide opportunities for him or her to taste the food and other foods within that food group.