Start the School Year Off Right with These Tips
As kids count down their last days of summer vacation, it’s time to start thinking about back-to-school nutrition. Keeping children energized and focused throughout the school day requires not only a good night’s sleep, but also a wholesome breakfast and hearty lunch. Providing a variety of nutritious foods for these meals, from fruit, vegetables and grains to protein, wheat germ and dairy products, can help children perform better in school.
According to the American Dietetic Association, kids who eat breakfast regularly miss less school, are on time more often and suffer fewer stomach aches from being hungry. Typically, kids who are well nourished concentrate better and achieve higher test scores. When kids don’t eat lunch, they may lose their focus in school, not be as willing to participate in sports due to a lack of energy and snack on the wrong foods when they get home.
Here are some ways you can get back into the groove and provide solid nutrition to help your kids start the school year right.
Stock up ahead of time. Do your grocery shopping before the week starts so you have a wide range of ingredients with which to prepare meals.
Get your kids involved. Have them help you pull recipes and make lists of what you will be preparing each week.
Prepare items ahead. Make food in advance and freeze it until you’re ready to use it. Banana bread and homemade whole wheat bread can be frozen and then thawed so they’re ready for the morning rush. Or for lunch, bake a wheat germ pizza crust topped with cheese, cut it into strips and freeze until ready to use. Pack the lunch with a side of pizza sauce for dipping.
Shake things up. Lunch boxes don’t always have to contain a sandwich. Pack a combination of small containers of foods your child likes to eat, such as cheese, lean ham, cherry tomatoes, whole grain crackers and melon. Look for recipes online or check out our Kretschmer Wheat Germ recipes for more ideas. This is a great way to get all of the food groups into one meal and makes lunchtime more interesting for your kids.
Push the morning protein. Protein keeps children satiated longer and will help prevent an energy crash. Serve an egg with turkey or Canadian bacon on a whole grain English muffin, whole wheat toast with peanut butter or a high-protein smoothie with Greek yogurt.
Make it to go. If breakfast needs to be on the go, try these ideas: Wrap up a waffle sandwich with scrambled eggs and a slice of cheese; pack a container of cottage cheese with a sprinkle of wheat germ and some fresh berries; slice a banana lengthwise and spread with some peanut butter or almond butter; toast a corn tortilla with cheese, and add avocado and salsa—roll it up and it’s ready to go. Or pack breakfast the night before: Let your kids create their favorite trail mix with no added sugar, dried fruit and nuts; pack hardboiled eggs, a slice of cheese and some whole grain crackers; create a homemade yogurt parfait in a plastic container with fruit and wheat germ.
Make a little extra. If tonight’s dinner will make a good lunch tomorrow, cook extra and pack it for your child’s lunch. Or make something new with it: If you’re serving roast chicken, then make chicken salad for lunch. If you make tomato sauce for pasta, then make an English muffin pizza for breakfast or lunch the next day.
What are some ways you get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables?