Whether your kids have already headed back to school or you’re still gearing up for that big first day, it’s an adjustment going from lazy mornings of summer to get-the-kids-dressed-fed-and-out-the-door mornings. (Or at least I imagine.) These back-to-school tips on nutrition from nutrition expert Jackie Keller are a good reminder for busy moms who want to keep their kids on the nutritional straight and narrow when the school days get super busy. Keller is a participant in the national Chefs Move to Schools initiative and the founder of the NutriFit meal-delivery program.
“As a working mother I understand how difficult it can be to prepare fresh and healthy meals, but it is so important not only for day-to-day nutrition, but also in shaping a child’s future lifestyle choices,” says Keller. “Make things that kids will want to eat, like healthier versions of classic dishes, so they’re not motivated to eat elsewhere or trade-off their food at lunch. My kids loved having different and exciting meals, not just a turkey sandwich every day.”
5 Back-to-School Tips for Healthy Eating
1. Focus on creating balanced, portable meals. Instead of a sandwich, try different kinds of wraps. Wraps can be healthier and are more versatile than a sandwich; almost any combination of foods can be used as a wrap filling, which makes them fun for kids. Make sure there are fruits and vegetables in at least one meal a day and include a variety of foods for a balance of vitamins and nutrients.
2. Emphasize breakfast. The most important meal of the day, a healthy breakfast increases a student’s ability to concentrate and learn. It is also important for setting the tone for the rest of the day. Whole-grain cereal, oatmeal, fruit and eggs are all great options.
3. Plan ahead. Put together meal plans during the week to keep the family on track. Planning ahead will allow you to get everything you need at once, requiring only one or two trips to the market a week. Plus, sticking to a list will keep you from grabbing less-than-healthy last-minute snacks that call to shoppers’ and especially kids’ attention.
4. Get children involved. Take your kids to the farmer’s market and let them pick a new vegetable or fruit to try, or even have them participate in an at-home garden. Let them help you prepare food in the kitchen; it will be fun for them, and they will learn even more about making the right food choices.
5. Keep kids active. Remember to keep children moving when they get back to school. Take walks or hikes, or get involved in something the whole family can do together to not only get exercise but also to have quality time together.
What are your go-to meals to spice up your kids’ lunchboxes? Do you serve the same breakfast every day or switch it up? Share the nutritional nuances of your school days! —Erin