Between Jonathan’s track meets, Lily’s dance classes and baby Rose’s swimming lessons, it may seem difficult to plan healthy meals and snacks. Here are five simple tips to streamline meal prep and have healthy choices ready during the back-to-school rush.
1. Take the effort out of weeknight meals. Set aside an hour or two on the weekend to chop vegetables and fruit, measure spices and mix marinades. When the ingredients are measured and the vegetables are already chopped dinner feels so much easier! Even when the kiddos are under toe.
2. Find your Zen with slow-cooker meals. On the weekend, dump the ingredients for slow cooker recipe(s) into heavy-duty freezer bag(s), label and freeze until needed. On cooking day, add thawed ingredients to the slow cooker along with a little broth or water, and you will come home to a wholesome dinner.
3. Build quick, balanced meals packed with brain-boosting nutrients like choline, iron, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc to help children concentrate and excel.
- Breakfast burritos: Fill 6-inch whole wheat tortillas with scrambled eggs, black beans, spinach and cheese.
- Yogurt bowls or parfaits: Layer plain yogurt, nuts, dried or fresh fruit, granola or even crumbled granola bars into Tupperware containers or mason jars.
Tip: Try adding chia seed, walnuts or ground flaxseed to yogurt parfaits or smoothies to boost the omega-3 content.
- Pre-game smoothies: Layer frozen fruit, baby spinach, plain yogurt and nut or seed butter (or avocado) into a blender or the bowl of a food processor. Blend until smooth and thin with milk (or a non-dairy milk) to desired consistency.
Tip: Freeze a big smoothie batch for easy, anytime smoothies or popsicles.
5. Pack lunches for the week. Missing out on lunch can lead to night-time munchies and could even effect a child’s level of performance in evening sports. These nourishing meals are lunch box ready and can be prepared days in advance.
- Sandwich skewers are a hit even with picky eaters. Simply layer grapes, whole grain pitas wedges, lettuce, cooked chicken or deli meat, cherry tomatoes, cheese and cucumber slices onto wooden skewers. Serve with your child’s favorite dressing such as balsamic or ranch.
- Portion hardboiled eggs, vegetables, ranch dressing, grapes, whole grain crackers and cheese or yogurt into single-serve plastic containers.
- Stow mini whole wheat pitas filled with chicken, sliced apples, spinach, cucumbers and cheese in sandwich baggies.
- For a quick Tex-Mex inspired meal, mix the following in a large bowl: black beans, cooked veggies, brown rice and salsa. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a sprinkle of low-fat cheese and extra salsa.