Okay, so we've talked about finding vegetables and fruits locally and on the cheap. Now that your fridge is full of them, how do you get the kids to actually eat them all summer?
I think one of the keys is to make fruits and vegetables the number one most visible and easy-to-reach food items in the house. Don't leave them tucked away in the crisper drawer, unwashed in plastic bags. If they're on the counter when the kids run by, lookin' cool, crisp, and ready-to-go, kids are more likely to grab and eat them. Of course, it also helps to ditch the junk food or at least keep it out-of-sight, and perhaps rule out other foods for between-meal snacking.
But even though I think they should be out and available, I don't want them to get dry, wilty, or touched by flies. Yuck! This year I stumbled across a great solution at Bed Bath & Beyond: this Condiments on Ice tray with five 2-cup compartments. It has a clear lid that leaves the goodies visible and an ice compartment to keep everything cool. (They also have an Appetizers on Ice tray; I liked the dip holder, but the tray doesn't have a lid, which is a must for me, what with the whole fly touching issue).
Each late morning or early afternoon I fill the bottom of the tray with fresh ice and load it with whatever fruits and vegetables I have on hand. When the ice gets melty I pour off the water and add a bit more; at the end of the day I add whatever's uneaten to dinner or save it for leftover soup.
The options of what to put in this thing are almost endless. Here are three pictures to give you some ideas:
(1) baby cucumber spears, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, organic strawberries and green grapes.
(2) cucumber slices, romaine leaves, sugar snaps, baby carrots, jicama and apple slices (in one container with a small plastic divider), and green grapes.
(3)baby carrots, grape tomatoes, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, jicama, and baby bananas.
The daily Filling-of- the-Tray has become quite an event at our house, especially when the neighborhood kids are over. I tell you, I'm not sure why everyone insists that kids won't eat fruits and vegetables and you have to hand out candy and popsicles if you want them to like you. I've watched these containers empty in a matter of minutes. One little girl ate almost an entire cup of sugar snap peas before she stopped and held one up to me. "What are these?" she asked.