Back to School Food Hacks: Meal Shortcuts for Busy Families
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While kids attending year round schools have been back in the groove for a while now, those in traditional calendar schools head back this week. Either way, the start of a new school year can be challenging for busy families when it comes to meal prep.
Think protein, fiber and healthy fats for a breakfast that is going to leave your child feeling satisfied and ready to learn. Here are a few “grab and go” breakfast ideas:
A thick layer of peanut butter or almond butter (or sunflower seed butter) on a crispy slice of whole grain toast.
A container of Greek yogurt, with a few chopped nuts stirred in for extra protein and fats.
Hard boiled eggs and a piece of fruit. HINT: To save valuable time the next morning, boil and peel the eggs the night before. Scrambled eggs are another great option and may be quickly prepared in the microwave.
Overnight oats: Simply mix together equal parts of rolled or quick oats, Greek yogurt and milk (for one serving try using 1/3 cup of each). Then get creative and add a bit of fresh or dried fruit. Mix well. Cover and leave in fridge overnight. Your cool, creamy, oats will be waiting for you in the morning. HINT: For added protein, stir in a few chopped nuts in the morning. Also, feel free to add in more milk or Greek yogurt if needed, depending on the preferred consistency.
Toasted whole grain English muffin, topped with an ounce or two of favorite cheese: Swiss, cheddar, provolone, etc. A slice of tomato on top is a nice addition!
Tips for Packing Lunch
A benefit of bringing lunch from home is that kids don’t have to spend time waiting in line, so there will be more time to actually eat!
Include protein, a veggie, fruit and whole grain (optional). This could be as simple as a sandwich with fruit and a side of crunchy celery and carrot sticks or as elaborate as a salad topped with left over chicken and a piece of fruit.
Some families do a combination of school lunch and packing lunch. It doesn’t have to be all or none!
Consider pre-portioning lunch items on the weekend and placing them into zip lock bags for quick to assemble packed meals in the coming week. The protein bags might include slices of ham, turkey, boiled eggs, cheese cubes or nuts. The veggie bags might include sliced cucumbers, carrots, radishes, celery or tomato wedges. Grapes, orange slices or small apples could go into the fruit bags. Optional bags containing a few whole grain crackers or whole grain tortilla chips would also be an option.
Quick Dinner Meals
The “What’s for Dinner” Dilemma:
Relax…. dinner does NOT have to be served by 6:00 PM. Life gets busy and there are some nights when dinner is simply not going to happen before 8:00 PM. Kudos for making a meal at home! DO focus on the protein and veggies when meals are going to be served later. It might be a good night for soup and salad but save the carb heavy pasta meal for a night when dinner can be served earlier.
Some families try to prepare at least one meal each week that makes a LOT. Left -overs from that huge pot of chili can easily be frozen and revisited next week when a quick meal is needed.
Spend a few minutes planning out meals for the coming week and making a grocery list of needed items. Taking this extra step can save lots of time on the back end.
Check out this earlier Bull City Fit article with a few suggestions for pronto meals! https://www.bullcityfit.org/single-post/2017/09/25/Pronto-Meals