The lazy days of summer have come and gone. School is about to start and you’re ready. Well, kind of ready. Yes, you bought your kids their backpacks, pencils, and notebooks. But what about the food?
You know your kids need nourishing food to help them rock their school day, but somehow, meals and snacks ideas have completely fallen off your radar! Don’t worry! We’ve enlisted the help of some awesome Mom RD’s (Registered Dietitians) to share their best back-to-school tips. And they’re giving us their favorite recipes too!
TIP 1: Just be YOU when it comes to filling that lunch box!
The Expert: Liz Shaw MS RDN CLT CPT
You know that saying, “keeping up with the Joneses,” Well, that goes for the lunchbox envy too! Do what works for you instead of what works for those on the internet. If that’s a peanut butter sandwich, awesome! If that’s deli turkey and cheese with crackers, super cool. Point being, making a homemade lunch for your kids that’s filled with wholesome whole food ingredients will help satiate and satisfy them while reminding them they are loved!
Tip 2: Try a bento box this year!
The Expert: Angela Lemond, RDN CSP LD
Bento Boxes are the BEST because they remind us to place a food group in each slot. It’s also a great teaching for kids to pick a grain, protein/dairy, fruit and veggie with their meals. Encourage them to fill their slots each day with their choices that you provide at your home.
Favorite after-school snack:
It’s still HOT here in Texas. My teens come home and want some cool and refreshing. We’ve been freezing yogurt and fruit for them so they have a treat before getting into their homework. These berry vanilla yogurt bites are so easy to make, and kid-approved!
Tip 3: Enlist your kids to help pack the lunch!
The Expert: Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, author of The 101 Healthiest Foods For Kids and founder of RealMomNutrition.com
Encourage your kids to pack their own lunches! Even little ones can help choose items and find a cold-pack in the freezer. It gives them independence and life skills and frees up time for you. I make lunch packing bins (one for the fridge, one for the counter) to corral items for packing to make it a little easier.
Tip 4: Change dinner time!
The Expert: Heather Mangieri, RDN, CSSD
Kids come home from school hungry, so they don’t need a snack – they need a meal. If dinner time can be moved up during the school year, that is ideal. But if not, have something easy to assemble ready-to-go.
Favorite after-school snack: Make a sandwich, a Greek yogurt bowl with fruit and nuts, heat up a
soft taco or make a mini pizza on a tortilla, Naan bread or in the toaster oven. This will keep
them filled, satisfied and nourished until the family meal or dinner. Here are a few
Where you kind find Heather: https://heathermangieri.com/my-blog/
Tip 5: Stock your pantry and fridge for success!
The Expert: Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND
Be prepared! When it comes to healthy eating, there are various ways to be prepared to go into the busy school year. Find 5 or 6 healthy recipes and start giving them a try to see which will be a hit with your family and you can incorporate into their healthy meal plans. Stock up on essential pantry items that you cook with often, like canned beans, olive oil, quinoa, or anything else! Set one day a month to find and test new recipes and to restock up on your necessary items. Once you have a plan in place and are prepared, you will better be able to handle anything that comes your way this school year!
Tip 6: Try make-ahead breakfasts!
The Expert: Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, New York-based culinary nutrition expert and
author of 52-Week Meal Planner
Mornings are always a crazy rush for us, so having make-ahead breakfasts in the refrigerator or freezer is key to ensuring my girls get a healthy meal in their bellies before the school day begins. Baked oatmeal cups, egg muffins, whole grain waffles, hard boiled eggs, and lower sugar yogurts are some of my favorites to keep on hand. Try these Oatmeal Cups & Egg Muffins!
Favorite after school snack: Apples & graham crackers with peanut butter
Where you can find Jessica: www.jessicalevinson.com
Tip 7: Keep breakfast simple!
The Expert: Marina Chaparro, registered dietitian, mom of 2 girls, and founder of Nutrichicos-Children; Family nutrition
Breakfast can be challenging for little ones, I know my daughter is not very hungry in the mornings. So, don’t feel like breakfast needs to very elaborate or fancy in order to be nutritious. A simple whole grain cereal, low in sugar with some toppings like nuts, seeds, milk and fruit will fuel your little one for hours. Why it works: it includes 3 food groups, whole grains, protein and its something she enjoys! Win-Win!
Favorite after school snack: I’m a fan of picnic-style snacks. Afters school, kids can be hungry, tired and thirsty leading them to graze on snacks non-stop. To solve this, I use a picnic-style snack where I offer 1-2 small servings of fruit + a whole grain like crackers or a protein like nuts, cheese or yogurt.
Why it works: It’s visually appealing, easy to eat and it gives them independence to choose what they want to eat!