Is there anything easier to feed children than pizza? If it’s a big hit in your house, then good news! There are simple, small steps you can take to turn pizza night into a chance to eat more veg and turn it into a more balanced meal.
Why is Pizza so great?
Most kids love pizza! Yes, there are occasional exceptions, but for most families pizza is a big hit, making it a great place to start adding more veg to the meal.
Pizza is fantastic for its ability to be a “base” – it is a building block (and a tasty one!) that can become a vehicle for making better choices for toppings, sides, or small improvements.
A plain pizza already contains some carbs (bread base) and protein (cheese) and even a tiny bit of veg (tomato sauce), so adding some more veg as a topping or side can easily create a balanced meal!
So whether you are starting with your favourite brand of frozen margarita, topping a wrap with some tomato puree and cheese, or making your own pizza dough and adding extras, we can help you with some small steps to a still-tasty-and-somewhat-healthier pizza night.
How are your pizza skills?
I’m just starting out.
I’m ready to take it to the next level.
How can I get my kids involved and interested?
Most kids love pizza!
Yes, there are occasional exceptions, but for most families pizza is a big hit, making it a great place to start adding more veg to the meal.
Frozen pizza/base or a tortilla wrap
Tomato sauce/puree if needed
Grated cheese, if needed
Optional extra favourite toppings
For a frozen pizza: Cook the frozen according to package instructions, adding any extra toppings you want before cooking.
For pizza base: Top with tomato sauce/puree and cheese, plus any extra favourite toppings and bake in a hot oven (220C/gas 7) for 10 mins or until cheese is golden and base is cooked.
For wraps: Top tortilla wraps with tomato sauce/puree and grated cheese, plus any extra favourite toppings and bake in a hot oven (200C/gas 6) for 2-5 mins or until cheese and wrap are golden (you can also do this for 1 minute under a grill for an even quicker pizza!).
There is no need to go any further with this recipe until you are confident with it and feel up for the next step.
Feeling ready? Let’s see how you can get your next small victory without battles…
Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating.
Kids in the kitchen
The eventual aim, if possible, is to get kids in the kitchen. Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to mean they are with you from start-to-end creating mess and rising stress levels! It can be as simple as giving them one small job (stirring, measuring, pouring, grating, chopping…) ideally involving veg. They can come in to do their little bit, and have fun with you for a few minutes. Getting them involved, making it playful and praising them plenty for their involvement, perhaps even serving it as dinner they “made”, makes it much more likely they will eat the food offered, not to mention teaching them important life skills. Find ideas, safety tips, videos and even a free chart in our Kids in the Kitchen section here.
While getting kids to interact with veggies for real and using their senses to explore them is best, encouraging hands off activities like arts & crafts, puzzles & games or at-home science experiments can be a great start, particularly for those who are fussier eaters or struggle with anything too sensory. Use these veg-themed activities as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. We have loads of crafty downloads here, puzzles here, and quirky science with veg here.
Once you feel your child is ready to engage a little more, you can show them how to explore the veg you have on hand with their senses, coming up with playful silly descriptions of how a veg smells, feels, looks, sounds and perhaps even tastes. Find ideas, videos and some simple sensory education session ideas to get you started here.
The moments before food is offered can be a perfect opportunity for engagement that can help make it more likely a child will eat it! Giving children a sense of ownership in the meal can make a big difference to their feelings going into it and the pride they take in it. You know your child best, but if you aren’t sure where to start, we have some fun and simple ideas for easy roles you can give them in the serving process over here.
I Want To Improve My Pizza
If you are feeling confident with your favourite pizza recipe, but you’re wondering if there are some small tweaks you could make for the better, this is for you.
We’ve outlined some simple stages for continually improving on a basic pizza recipe to get you from good to great. Find where you feel your current recipe sits and see if the next step is something you could aim for. You don’t have to go any further, but if you choose to, make sure you are feeling confident with this new stage before you try the next one.
And remember, the MOST important thing is that the family enjoys the meal! These changes and swaps can take as long as is needed if your family isn’t ready for big changes all in one go. Small simple improvements over time may not even be noticed.
Play is essential!
Think of children helping in the kitchen as a role play game with plenty of fun for maximum effect. One of the best ways to develop a love of veg in kids is to get them involved in the prep of the veg. Not only is cooking an essential life skill for kids to learn, but it’s a great, fun way to get them engaging with healthy foods!
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