Friday, 30 October 2009

Where Food Comes From: Teach Your Toddler Tip Three

Although we are lucky enough to have grown our entire summer vegetable supply in our garden, not everyone has a garden. But being reliant on the supermarket to buy your vegetables does not mean that your toddler is unable to learn about where the food comes from. When you are shopping there are lots of things you can do to help your toddlers learn about the food you are buying.

Let your toddler pick out the fruit and vegetables for you. Garden Girl loves selecting apples of various types. Some days she will only choose red ones, other days shiny ones and sometimes she will choose the biggest. She also counts out my carrots and picks out the biggest broccolli. If I am not following a recipe I will let her choose the type of vegetables, telling her to pick out three different vegetables, or three green vegetables, or choose one vegetable that grows above ground and one that grows under the soil. Garden Boy will always join in and makes Garden Girl giggle when he gets it wrong or sends an apple rolling across the supermarket floor. I have to watch him though, as he is liable to take a big bite out the vegetables, testing them out before he buys. Still, most of the vegetables from our garden have munch marks in them, so why not those from the supermarket? It just makes them more authentic!

We usually buy frozen peas and tinned beans, but if you don't grow your own it is worth buying some fresh peas or broad beans in the pod every now and then. Our Little Garden Helpers love podding them for me while I chop the rest of the vegetables and they get to see what they looked like on the plant. Around Christmas time there are usually sprouts still attached to the plant stalks in the supermarkets and there are always tomatoes still on the vine on the shelves, so look out for them and occassionally buy them like this so you can explain why they look like this.

Supermarkets also sell herbs growing in their pots so try to buy these rather than the ready cut ones, or the dried ones, although many herbs are easy to grow from seed on a window sill, in small pots, so spend less and let your toddler plant their own.

I also frequently take our Little Garden Helpers to the garden centre for nothing more than an afternoon's entertainment. They love it, as there is lots to see (especially near Christmas when they have fabulous Christmas displays) and if you are trying to teach your toddler about food you can just seek out the vegetable section and show them what the plants look like in the early stages, before they hit the supermarket shelves.

And the best thing about getting your toddler to help with the shopping? They stay happy and engaged while you shop instead of feeling like they are being dragged round and when they don't want to eat their food later you can remind them that they chose it and it might just encourage them to tuck in.

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