• Meal Planning and Preparation

    Parents and children can each have a role in making healthy family meal choices. Parents decide which foods to buy, which snacks to make available, and when and how these foods are prepared. Children decide “how much” and “if” to eat at all.

    Involve children in meal planning and preparation. Most children will enjoy deciding what to make for dinner. Talk to them about making choices and planning a balanced meal. Some might even want to help shop for ingredients and prepare the meal.

    At the store, teach children to check out food labels to begin understanding what to look for. In the kitchen, select age-appropriate tasks so your child can play a part without getting injured or feeling overwhelmed. And at the end of the meal, don’t forget to praise the chef.

    School lunches can be another learning lesson for children. If you can get them thinking about what they eat for lunch, you might be able to help them make positive changes. Brainstorm about what kinds of foods they’d like for lunch or go to the grocery store to shop together for healthy, packable foods.

    There’s another important reason why children should be involved: It can help prepare them to make good decisions on their own about the foods they want to eat. That’s not to say that your child will suddenly want a salad instead of french fries, but the mealtime habits you help create now can lead to a lifetime of healthier choices.

    Click on the resources listed below to download:

  • How to Cope with Picky Eaters

    Picky eating is typical for many preschoolers. It’s simply another step in the process of growing up and becoming independent. As long as your preschooler is healthy, growing normally, and has plenty of energy, he or she is most likely getting the nutrients he or she needs.

    Typical picky eating behaviors

    Many children will show one or more of the following behaviors during the preschool years. In most cases, these will go away with time.

    • Your child may refuse a food based on a certain color or texture. For example, he or she could refuse foods that are red or green, contain seeds, or are squishy.
    • For a period of time, your preschooler may only eat a certain type of food. Your child may choose 1 or 2 foods he or she likes and refuse to eat anything else.
    • Sometimes your child may waste time at the table and seem interested in doing anything but eating.
    • Your child may be unwilling to try new foods. It is normal for your preschooler to prefer familiar foods and be afraid to try new things.

    How to cope with picky eating

    Your child’s picky eating is temporary. If you don’t make it a big deal, it will usually end before school age. Try the following tips to help you deal with your child’s picky eating behavior in a positive way.

    • Let your kids be “produce pickers.” Let them pick out fruits and veggies at the store.
      Have your child help you prepare meals. Children learn about food and get excited about tasting food when they help make meals. Let them add ingredients, scrub veggies, or help stir.
    • Offer choices. Rather than ask, “Do you want broccoli for dinner?” ask “Which would you like for dinner, broccoli or cauliflower?”
    • Enjoy each other while eating family meals together. Talk about fun and happy things. If meals are times for family arguments, your child may learn unhealthy attitudes toward food.
    • Offer the same foods for the whole family.  Serve the same meal to adults and kids. Let them see you enjoy healthy foods. Talk about the colors, shapes, and textures on the plate.

    Trying new foods

    Your child may not want to try new foods. It is normal for children to reject foods they have never tried before. Here are some tips to get your child to try new foods:

    • Small portions, big benefits. Let your kids try small portions of new foods that you enjoy. Give them a small taste at first and be patient with them. When they develop a taste for more types of foods, it’s easier to plan family meals.
    • Offer only one new food at a time. Serve something that you know your child likes along with the new food. Offering more new foods all at once could be too much for your child.
    • Be a good role model. Try new foods yourself. Describe their taste, texture, and smell to your child.
    • Offer new foods first. Your child is most hungry at the start of a meal.
    • Sometimes, new foods take time. Kids don’t always take to new foods right away. Offer new foods many times. It may take up to a dozen tries for a child to accept a new food.

    Click on USDA resources listed below to download:


  • Understanding Nutrition Facts Label
    • Serving Size: Pay attention to serving size. If you double the serving, you double the nutrients.
    • Check Calories: Check your calories per serving. 40 calories is considered low, 100 calories is considered moderate and 400 calories is considered high.
    • Limit These Nutrients: Eating too much fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol or sodium may increase your risk of certain chronic diseases like heart disease, some cancers or high blood pressure. It is recommended that you keep your intake of these nutrients as low as possible. 5% Daily Value or less is low, 20% DV or more is high.
    • Get Enough of These Nutrients: Eating enough dietary fiber, calcium, iron and vitamins A and C can improve your health and help reduce the risk of some diseases and conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease. You can use Nutrition Facts not only to help limit the nutrients you want to cut back on but also to increase the nutrients you need to consume in greater amounts. 5% DV or less is low, 20% Daily Value or more is high.
  • 5 Ways to Make Recipes More Nutritious

    Are you always on the lookout for ways to eat healthier? One relatively easy way is to modify your recipes and food preparation methods. Many recipes call for more fat, sugar and salt than what are needed for good flavor and quality. And depending on the recipe, you may be able to add or replace ingredients to boost fiber content.

    The first step to healthier eating is to identify your dietary goal. To cut calories, fat, sugar or sodium (or to increase fiber) identify the ingredients that supply these components. Keep in mind that not all recipes need modification. Take into consideration how often the food is eaten and how much of the food is eaten. For example, it is more important to reduce the fat in a main dish served weekly rather than reduce the fat in a birthday cake enjoyed once per year.

    The second step is to change the ingredients to achieve your dietary goal. Ingredients can be eliminated completely, reduced in amount or replaced with a more nutritious ingredient.

    1. Decrease total fat and calories

    • In many baked goods such as muffins and cakes, try replacing half to all of the fat with unsweetened applesauce, low-fat yogurt or prune puree.
    • When making soups or stews, allow time to refrigerate before serving. The fat that hardens and accumulates can be skimmed off.
    • Bake, broil, grill or poach meat, poultry or fish rather than frying.

    2. Replace whole milk with skim or low-fat (1%) milk

    • Use naturally lower-fat cheeses, such as feta or mozzarella, in place of higher fat cheeses, such as Swiss or cheddar.

    3. Decrease sugar

    • In baked goods and desserts, such as breads, cookies, pie fillings, custards, puddings and fruit crisps, reduce sugar by one-quarter to one-third. Extra spices or flavoring can be added to compensate for the sweetness.
    • Buy unsweetened frozen fruit or fruit canned in its own juice or water.
    • Replace one-quarter of the sugar in cookies, bars and cakes with an equal amount of nonfat dry milk. This not only reduces calories but increases the calcium, protein and riboflavin in the food.

    4. Decrease sodium

    • Gradually reduce the amount of salt in a recipe each time you make it. By doing so, you will adjust to a less salty flavor over time.
    • Add herbs and spices for flavor instead of salt.
    • Choose garlic and onion powder rather than garlic and onion salt.
    • Do not add salt to the water when cooking pasta, noodles or rice.

    5. Increasing fiber

    • Keep peels on fruits and vegetables whenever possible.
    • Add extra vegetables to casseroles, soups, salads and other dishes.
    • Add fruits to muffins, pancakes and desserts.
    • Substitute whole-wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour when making breads, muffins, pancakes or other grain products.

    Click on the resources listed below to download:

  • Healthy Ingredient Substitutions
    • 1 cup of cream –> 1 cup evaporated fat-free milk
    • 1 cup of butter, margarine or oil –> 1/2 cup applesauce
    • 1 Egg –> 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute
    • Pastry Dough –> Graham cracker crumb crust
    • Butter, margarine, or vegetable oil for sautéing –> Cooking spray, chicken broth, or a small amount of olive oil
    • Bacon –> Lean turkey bacon
    • Ground beef –> Extra lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
    • Sour cream –> Fat-free sour cream
    • 1 cup chocolate chips –> 1/4 – 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
    • 1 cup sugar –> 3/4 cup sugar (this works with most everything except yeast breads)
    • 1 cup mayonnaise –> 1 cup reduced-fat or fat-free mayonnaise
    • 1 cup whole milk –> 1 cup fat-free milk
    • 1 cup cream cheese –> 1/2 cup ricotta cheese pureed with 1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese
    • Oil and vinegar dressing with 3 parts oil to 1-part vinegar –> 1 part olive oil + 1 part vinegar (preferably a flavored vinegar such as balsamic) + 1 part orange juice
    • Unsweetened baking chocolate (1 ounce) –> 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or margarine

    Click here to download a print-friendly ingredient substitution list.

  • Daily Breakfast

    Don’t forget to eat breakfast daily. Research has shown that children who eat breakfast have better overall nutrition, energy, and brain function; get sick less often; and have better general health.

    Make time for a healthy breakfast on school days with these easy tips that take less than 10 minutes to prepare and eat:

    • Keep a bowl of sliced fruit in the refrigerator to quickly toss on top of cereal or into low-fat or nonfat yogurt.
    • What could be quicker than a glass of low-fat or nonfat milk, a piece of fruit, and whole wheat bread with a slice of low-fat cheese or peanut butter?
    • Instant oatmeal microwaves in 2 minutes; add sliced fruit and a glass of low-fat or nonfat milk for a quick, hearty and nutritious meal.
    • Melt grated or sliced cheese in a tortilla in the microwave. Roll it up and eat on the go. If time permits, add diced tomatoes and smoked turkey.
    • Scrambled eggs are super quick too! They cook in just a few minutes in the microwave or a pan. Roll them up in a warm tortilla with salsa or low-fat cheese.
    • On the weekend, prepare a batch of whole grain muffins made with fresh, frozen (no sugar added), or dried fruit. Freeze for a quick grab-and-go breakfast.

    Click here to download print-friendly daily breakfast tips.

  • Smart Snacks

    Make your snacks healthy. Snacking provides energy between meals and essential nutrients to help children meet their growing needs. Click here to view MyPlate snack tips for parents  or hacks for your snacks.

    Click on the resources listed below to download:

  • MyPlate

    We recommend following the guidelines set forth by USDA’s MyPlate. MyPlate illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet. Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your cup or bowl. For additional healthy eating tips, visit our Healthy You page.

    Please note that the amount of fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, grains and oils you need depends on your age, gender and level of physical activity.

    Click here to download MyPlate’s 6 Tips to a Great Plate

    To learn more about building a healthy plate, select a food group below.

    • Fruits and Vegetables: Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
    • Grains: At least half of your grains should be whole grains.
    • Protein: Go lean with protein.
    • Dairy: Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
    • Oils


    Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the Fruit Group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up or pureed. It is recommended that you get 1-2 cups of fruit a day. Click here for specific daily recommendations based off of your age and sex. In general, 1 cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or 1/2 cup of dried fruit can be considered 1 cup from the fruit group.


    Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the Vegetable Group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed. It is recommended that you get 1-3 cups of vegetables a day. Click here for specific daily recommendations based off of your age and sex. In general, 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy greens can be considered 1 cup from the vegetable group.

    Click here for the vegetables food gallery.


    Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products.

    It is recommended that you get 3-8 oz. of grains per day. Click here for specific daily recommendations based off of your age and sex.

    In general, 1 slice of bread; 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal; or 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta or cereal = 1 oz. of grains.


    All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the Protein Foods Group. Beans and peas are also part of the Vegetable Group.

    It is recommended that you get 6 cooked ounces of protein a day. Select a variety of protein foods to improve nutrient intake and health benefits, including at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week. Click here for specific daily recommendations based off of your age and sex.

    In general, 1/4 cup of cooked beans; 1/4 cup of tofu or 1 egg = 1 oz. of lean meat.


    All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Most Dairy Group choices should be fat-free or low-fat. Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group. Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not.

    It is recommended that you get 2-3 cups of milk per day.

    In general, 1 cup of milk or yogurt; 1/4 cup shredded cheese; 2 oz. of processed cheese; or 2 cups of cottage cheese = 1 cup of dairy.


    Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature, like the vegetable oils used in cooking. Oils come from many different plants and from fish. Oils are NOT a food group, but they provide essential nutrients. Therefore, oils are included in USDA food patterns.

    It is recommended that you get 3-7 teaspoons of oil per day. Click here for specific daily recommendations based off of your age and sex.

    Keep in mind that some Americans consume enough oil in the foods they eat, such as nuts, fish, cooking oil and salad dressings. Others could easily consume the recommended allowance by substituting oils for some of the solid fats they eat. Solid fats include: shortening, stick margarine, butter, cream, or beef, pork and chicken fat.

How-2-Cook Videos

View Video

Fruit Dissection Infographic Poster


Grow the Rainbow Infographic Poster


Easy on the Salt Infographic Poster


Smart Snacks Infographic Poster


Snack Swaps (English)


Cooking, Kid Approved (English)


Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget (English)


Daily Breakfast Tips (English)


Healthy Ingredient Substitutions


Meal Planner


Snack Swaps (Spanish)


Cooking, Kid Approved (Spanish)


Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget (Spanish)


Daily Breakfast Tips (Spanish)


ChooseMyPlate Eating on a Budget Resources

Making a plan before heading to the store can help you get organized, save money, and choose healthy options.

View Resource

ChooseMyPlate Personalized MyPlate Plan

The MyPlate Plan shows your food group targets – what and how much to eat within your calorie allowance. Your food plan is personalized, based on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level. The MyPlate Plan is also available in Spanish.

View Resource

ChooseMyPlate Quiz

View Resource

Chop Chop Magazine

Chop Chop's mission is to educate kids to cook and be nutritionally literate, empower them to actively participate as health partners with their families, and help establish and support better eating habits for a lifetime of good nutrition.

View Resource

Eat Together PA

The benefits of eating together as a family are huge. EatTogetherPa helps to make cooking a little simpler for those with busy lifestyles and full schedules. Browse the website for affordable recipes and family meal resources.

View Resource

GIANT’s Guiding Stars

Many of your favorite foods are healthy – just look for the Guiding Stars on thousands of products throughout GIANT Food Stores to know you're making truly healthy choices when you shop.

View Resource