Perhaps that is why finding time to prepare and provide nutritious meals and snacks can be such a challenge for many parents who want to give their children the best school experience they can. Unfortunately, not giving higher priority to what types of foods our kids eat can actually hurt their performance in school.
You don’t have to carve out hours of time or be an expert chef to ensure that your children eat healthy throughout the school year. In fact, incorporating just a few of the following healthy eating tips can get your family eating well without missing any of the important events that make school time a memorable experience.
Avoid last minute decisions. Just because a meal is served on a certain day doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for it the day before. In fact, the more you do in advance, the less you have to do in the moment.
Breakfast is a great example of a meal that can be planned and prepped the night before so that when morning comes and you are frantically trying to get your children and yourself out the door, you can grab a nutritious breakfast and go. This really works with any meal, but breakfast gets a lot of attention because it’s probably one of the hardest meals to plan in the moment.
In need of a few quick breakfast ideas? Check out our Healthy Breakfast Recipes for Back to School.
Lunches can similarly be planned this way with leftovers from dinner lending themselves well to a happy, healthy, and quick meal idea.
If it’s a game night and you’re traveling to watch your kid in his or her first big game, identify which eating style will work best for that night’s festivities. If you have time to eat a healthy meal at home with the family, that’s great! If not, identify what you do have time for. Do you have time to pack a meal? Does eating at a restaurant fit better into your schedule? Once you identify what style works for you and your family, you can then start making decisions about how to eat your best no matter where you are.
Keep healthy snacks in the car. Whether you have a cooler or not, you should be able to stash a few nutritious items in your car for trips to away games and travel to and from school. Individually packed veggies (think carrot sticks and celery sticks) and dip, packets of raisins, apples, bananas, and dried fruit all make wonderful options.
Create a Snack Station. Keep healthy eating simple at home by having a pre-stocked snack station ready to go in your fridge. Using a plastic veggie tray, fill it with snack options your kids can grab once they come home from school. Cheese sticks, yogurt, fresh fruit, hummus and whole wheat pita pockets, and baggies of cereal are all great choices.
Plan a family meal time. Eating together as a family allows for all kinds of conversations to happen; including discussions about food, nutrition and health. Make eating healthy an enjoyable experience and you might just find that both your children and yourself will be more apt to eat those foods you know are good for you, but may have felt forced to eat before. If you currently eat together as a family 1-2 times a week, aim for 3-4. If you haven’t yet added family meal time into your routine, then aim for just 1-2 times per week. You’ll love it!