Whether it’s looking both ways when crossing the street or not touching their privates in public or making safe choices when it comes to drinking and drugs, it’s your job to instill in your kids the values and habits needed to make wise choices. The same is true when it comes to food and healthy eating. It’s your job to consistently offer them great, fresh food so when they’re on their own making choices, they’ll know the difference between the good stuff and the junk.

It’s impossible to police your kids when they aren’t home—if your kid occasionally eats some really gross junk food, it’s not the end of the universe. As for school lunches, that’s a tough one. We laud Michelle Obama and her food initiative, and think smart moms should lobby their local schools for fresh, healthy lunches.

In Smart Mama, Smart Money, we relate this experience from our childhood that informs our philosophy about kids and food: Our mom was a terrific old-fashioned cook. Her mother grew up on a dairy farm, and her dad owned a restaurant; she made simple food from fresh ingredients. We did not have very much money, and there were five kids. All we ever begged for were TV dinners, and on occasion she caved and bought them. Then she would crinkle her nose in distaste when asked why she wasn’t joining us in our grizzled chicken, grey pea and cardboard potato feast. While we loved those seldom-served Swanson dinners, we also knew the difference between delicious ‘real’ food and occasional junk food.

In our house, we kept a junk food drawer that was available pretty much whenever our kids wanted to dig into it. Guess what? While, on occasion, we’d have to tell them it was too close to dinnertime or they’d eaten enough, they rarely over-indulged. Mostly, it was their sugar-deprived friends who turned into junk-food-eating-vampires when they came to play. Today, they shun most junk and processed foods. In fact, they’re mindful about what they eat, appreciate great food and are terrific cooks.