September is back-to-school month! During this time of the year, things can get pretty hectic. With back-to-school comes a new schedule, new deadlines, and possibly a new meal routine. Healthy eating can fall on the backburner when life gets busy. Here are some tips to help you prepare healthy meals for your kids and yourself when life gets hectic!
Breakfast: It is especially important for your children to eat before school, so get breakfast ready ahead of time! Lay out a bag of cereal or oatmeal with a piece of fruit and a hard-boiled egg, or have a peanut butter sandwich ready and waiting.
Lunch: Pack lunches the night before, and let the kids help! Get them involved and show them how to make a healthy lunch. Making lunch the night before will guarantee that lunch will be healthy the next day! Being rushed can lead you to grab pre-packaged foods, which may not be as healthy.
If you don’t want to pack lunch, there is always the option of a school lunch. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a great way for your child to meet his or her nutritional needs. According to Food and Nutrition Service, school lunches must meet the meal pattern and nutrition standards set by the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The NSLP meal pattern increases the availability of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and has appropriate calorie limits for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Some children can receive free or reduced priced lunch, depending on the family’s income. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible to receive free meals, and children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible to receive free meals.
Dinner: During busy times, pull out the crockpot! The weather is getting cooler which is excellent for soups and stews. The crockpot will cook while you are at work or school, and dinner will be ready for you when you get home!
If you don’t have a crockpot, quick dinner options include whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce and vegetables, grilled chicken breast with vegetables and brown rice, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread with baby carrots.
Make enough for leftovers. Leftovers will save you time the next day, and will ensure you have a healthy lunch or dinner ready to go!
Snacks: Pack your kids (and yourself) healthy snacks. Hunger can make it more difficult to concentrate, so be sure to send your children to school with healthy snacks! Healthy snack options include veggie sticks with hummus, apples and string cheese, pretzels and grapes, popcorn and an orange, or peanut butter and banana or celery. These healthy snack options are also great for adults!