How to Create Simple & Healthy School Day Meals
Getting out the door in the morning (or to the computer) can be challenging. It’s easy for us to fall into the quick grab and go foods for ease, but the ingredients in our processed foods and excessive packaging harm us and our Mother Earth.
TIP #1: PLAN & PREP AHEAD OF TIME
Decide on 5 meals to plan and prepare for each day of the coming school week. You can choose to make the same menu each week to keep it easy and find ingredients that can be used in different recipes. Having a meal plan also helps ensure you use up what you buy and reduces food waste. Not only will this help create your weekly grocery list, but you’ll know what foods to prepare each day.
At the start of each week, prepare dishes and baked goods, and chop vegetables and store for easy access. This will save time in preparing and packing lunches.
TIP #2: INVOLVE YOUR KIDS
When kids help in the kitchen they are more motivated to consume the food they’ve helped prepare! Kids love to feel a part of the family unit, so utilize your kids and have them mix, safely chop, and help pack their own school lunches. This allows for connection time with your kids, but you may see positive results in the ‘clean plate’ department!
TIP #3: REUSABLE LUNCH CONTAINERS
There are all sorts of cute and colorful lunchbox options out there, but not all are safe or environmentally friendly. Plastic baggies are SO easy, but single-use plastics are not sustainable for the environment. Opt for more long-lasting, food-safe lunch boxes and bags like these from Fluf! Reuse the same lunchbox every day to take the guesswork out of finding plastic bags to use.
TIP # 4: EAT THE RAINBOW!
Kids are constantly growing, building, and rebuilding and need a variety of macro and micronutrients to keep up with these processes. Accomplish this by providing a variety of colors. Blues from blueberries, reds from peppers, greens from avocados all provide different types of nutrients. Try to add in as many different fresh and raw colorful fruits & veggies as you can.
TIP #5: OPT FOR WELL-BALANCED, WHOLE-FOOD LUNCHES
The convenience of packaged foods may be indisputable, but packaged and processed foods do not provide the nutrient levels kids need to support healthy development. Choose whole-foods, which are grains, fruits, and vegetables that have been minimally processed or not processed at all, and high-quality (organic, grass-fed, wild-caught) foods when possible simply slice those fruits and vegetables and throw them in your kids’ lunchbox!
Keep it balanced. Support your kid's ability to hold attention and concentrate longer in a class by combing carbohydrates like fruits or grains with slow-digesting proteins and fats like avocado, meat, cheese, or nuts. Slower digesting foods can prevent your child from experiencing a sugar crash after lunch. Always try to pack at least one vegetable, fruit, protein, and whole grain.
Check out our 5 Day School Week Menu Here!
Anna Krasin is a Nutritionist & Mom in Denver, CO