Parents watch TLC's Jon and Kate Plus 8 in shock and awe. Moms and dads are awed by the way the young couple, Jon and Kate, are raising two sets of multiples and shocked by the fact that all the children — Cara, Mady, Alexis, Hannah, Leah, Aaden, Collin, and Joel — eat! The twins' and sextuplets' diets don't consist of just peanut butter and jelly and buttered pasta; they entertain their pint-sized palates with everything from traditional Korean food to cracked crab and fresh vegetables.
lilsugar recently had the opportunity to ask queen of the Gosselin kitchen, Kate, a few questions about feeding her family of ten, the importance of an organic diet, and her recent partnership with the Grains Foods Foundation to promote brown bag lunches. To see her tips and what she had to say, read more.
lilsugar: Why did you decide to team up with the Grains Foods Foundation?
KG: These days, everyone is looking for ways to cut costs while still managing to eat healthy. With a family of 10, we’re certainly no different. We’ve been brown bagging for years and I’m working with the Grain Foods Foundation to show other families how packing lunches can be an easy and fun way to save money and eat healthy. There’s even a calculator on their website — grainpower.org — that shows how much money and calories you can save when you pack a lunch instead of eating out. It’s amazing!
lilsugar: Does or did incorporating grains into the Gosselin family diet bring down the food bill?
KG: Definitely. Grains like bread, crackers, pretzels, and granola bars have always been a part of our family diet because they are affordable, delicious and nutritious. We go through a loaf of bread at every meal so I usually buy a whole flat of bread at one time!
lilsugar: How important do you think it is to raise children on an organic diet?
KG: More than anything, I think it’s important to raise children on a healthy diet. As I’m sure you’ve seen on the show, I try to find fruits and vegetables from local farm stands but when that isn’t possible, there are always great and healthy options available at the supermarket.
lilsugar: As someone who fed a family of 10 on a budget, what tips would you offer other mothers to cut costs?
KG: Pay attention to the things that are on sale, clip coupons and, above all, avoid buying things that you don't need. Being organized and planning ahead is one of the best ways to stick to a budget. I know it’s not always easy for families to plan ahead but making sandwiches and packing lunches is a relatively simple way to save money and eat healthy. Nutrition has always been important to me personally as a woman, a nurse and especially as a mom.
lilsugar: On Jon and Kate Plus 8, your children seem to eat all of the healthy things you prepare. How have you managed to raise eight adventurous eaters?
KG: I have always prepared healthy meals without other options. I firmly believe that if they are hungry, they will eat what is in front of them. I also do not "over-snack" them. That said, if they do have a snack, it's usually something with grains (pretzels, wheat crackers, etc).
lilsugar: What are your family's favorite meals? Are there any foods your children do not like?
KG: We have a lot of favorites and I believe in exposing kids to a variety of foods from a very young age to avoid those childhood ruts (eating and wanting to eat the same four things for every meal).
lilsugar: You are often filmed packing cereal bags, lunches and picnics prior to outings on your show, do you do that for convenience or to save money?
KG: Both. Packing lunches and snacks ahead of time saves us money and help me make sure my family eats healthy no matter where we are. It ensures I’ll have something nutritious on hand when we’re away from home.
lilsugar: Do you have advice for moms on how to pack lunches that children will actually eat?
KG: Try to make their lunches fun. Include a note in their lunch bag or scribble words of inspiration on a napkin. And if you want to get really creative, use cookie cutters to transform your child’s sandwich into a work of art – or even into their initials. These little surprises are sure to bring a smile to their face.
Another thing I do is aim for variety. For instance, I’ll make them checkerboard sandwiches where I mix up the bread - using one slice of light colored bread and one slice of a darker bread, I simply cut the sandwiches into quarters and flip two of the quarters over to make a checkerboard. This is a great way to start introducing kids to whole grain bread. Kids love fun-looking food, even if it’s good for them!
lilsugar: You are extraordinarily organized. Do you have favorite products to pack food in a certain type of cereal bag, lunch box or drink container, etc.?
KG: I love cute reusable lunch bags and am a huge fan of color coding. With a family of 10, everyone having their own special color makes things much easier! Plus, it fosters a sense of ownership in the kids, which makes it less likely they’ll leave it behind or swap it with another child’s lunch!
lilsugar: You make cool, interactive snacks from edible play-dough to the pudding paint, do you have others?
KG: Those are the latest ones. Anything that is able to be eaten as well as fun (and healthy!) thrills my kids!
lilsugar: What is your family's favorite edible splurge, for example, ice cream for dinner?
KG: Well, ice cream for dinner is great but sometimes we will also have breakfast for dinner (French toast is always a big hit). Think variety with nutrition and it will keep everyone interested!
Check back on lilsugar each morning this week for some of Kate's delilicious kid-friendly sandwich recipes!