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How to Add Balance to a Favorite Meal

Medically reviewed by: Kathryn Russel, MS, RDN

Balanced eating is when kids get the fiber and protein they need to grow — and at the same time, enjoy what they eat.

A meal that includes fiber and protein is best because fiber helps kids feel full, and protein gives them energy and strength.

It’s challenging to get balance into every meal. But if you aim for balance as often as you can, over time your child will likely get what they need.

Here are some easy ways to add balance to 4 kid-friendly favorites:

If your child likes fried chicken or nuggets, offer a fruit or vegetable with it to add some fiber. Good options are:

  • apple slices
  • carrot or celery sticks
  • any other veggie your child enjoys

If your child likes french fries, pair them with a protein-rich food. You could try:

  • black beans, chickpeas, or a slice of baked tofu
  • a chicken breast or drumstick, a meatball or meatloaf, or a pork chop
  • a scrambled or hardboiled egg, or an omelet
  • tuna fish, sardines, or a piece of leftover fish

If your child likes deli meats, make a sandwich. Try whole-grain bread or a whole-grain roll to add fiber. If your child prefers white bread, boost the fiber by adding veggies like:

  • lettuce or spinach
  • tomato or cucumber slices

If your child likes macaroni and cheese (or any pasta), mix their favorite veggies into your usual recipe. Or toss steamed veggies on top for extra fiber. Good choices are:

  • broccoli or cauliflower
  • mushrooms
  • onions
  • peppers
  • zucchini or yellow squash

If you are concerned or have questions about balanced eating, talk to your child's pediatrician. They might recommend that you meet with a registered dietitian.

Medically reviewed by: Kathryn Russel, MS, RDN
Date reviewed: August 2023