Take the Summer Meals Eat Healthy Together Challenge with Your Family!

I admit to getting a bit lazy with my meals during the summer.  It's hot.  It's busy.  I just don't always get my meals planned the way I want to.  Even with all that's going on, however, I know that it's important to eat together as a family and use the time to fellowship with my husband and kids -- while also nourishing our bodies with fresh foods that are good for us!

The Walmart Foundation, has -- for for the third summer in a row -- given grants to nonprofits who help families with feeding and nutrition education.  "How much?" you may ask.  It's a big number.  The family-focused initiative includes $15 million in grants that will provide meals and nutrition education to 1.4 million children and families in more than 1,500 communities!

To help celebrate all the amazing families who will benefit from this gift, we are announcing a Summer Meals Challenge.  Families who commit to eating healthy meals together at least 3 times a week this summer are eligible to enter to win a $25 Walmart gift card.  Simply track your activity during the challenge by sharing photos on Twitter!

Here are some additional details on the promotion, which runs until August 4th:
  • Walmart is collaborating with Chef Lorena Garcia, renowned chef and author with TV appearances on BRAVO’s “Top Chef Masters” and NBC’s “Biggest Loser”, to help with the challenge.  You can view some of the meals she helped to develop at foundation.walmart.com/eathealthytogether   along with meal planning tools and tips for getting your whole family involved.
  • Follow @WalmartHealthy on Twitter. 
  • Post photos or updates on Twitter of your family eating healthy meals together, and include hashtags #EatHealthyTogether #Contest. 
  • Check out @WalmartHealthy each Monday for the announcement of the winning Challenge Tweet of the week; each winner will be awarded a $25 Walmart gift card. 
You can see the complete rules here.

To help you keep your meals ideas fresh, affordable, and easy, we have some tips for any family on a budget. (We follow these ourselves.)

1.  Upgrade your Greens.  Most kids are familiar with salad, as many schools now have salad bars.  Give your kids extra nutrients, introduce them to "power" foods, and save money by buying the big bags of "cooking greens" or other pre-washed and cut edible greens from the produce section.  These greens are better for you than iceberg lettuce, and more filling, too!

Need ideas for salads you can eat as a main course?  Why not try our Strawberry Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing or our Sirloin and Tossed Green Salad with Mandarin and Green Onion Dressing.....

2.  Limit Firsts. Offer Seconds.  I have a bad habit of overfilling my kids' plates at mealtime, which leads to overeating or wasted food.  Depending on the age of the child, I've started giving them half of an adult portion of each item, and letting them know that they can always come back for seconds when finished.  This keeps the pressure off the kids to eat after they are full, and we actually have had some leftovers from time to time (something that is very hard to do with 6 kids!)

3.  Eat Your Veggies... First.  We have a rule that has been implemented by my husband.  "Veggies first."   Our kids (and even I) know that you can't eat your meat, bread, or that delicious mac and cheese side until all the peas, green beans, or cabbage is gone.  This ensures that there are no struggles to eat "just one bite" of the veggie at the end of a long mealtime, and kids fill up on the good stuff!

Not sure how to get your kids to eat more veggies?  Try using unique cooking methods such as roasting or seasoning with fresh garlic or herbs.  Roasted Root Vegetables are a big hit at our house!

Do you have ideas for getting your family to the table for some easy, healthy meals?  Will you be using your experiences to enter the Summer Meals Challenge with Walmart?

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I've received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.