Back to School Meals – Don’t Forget About Breakfast too!
I can feel it in the air, parents eagerly awaiting the first day of school. Don’t get me wrong, I know you love your kids—I sure do, and I’VE loved the precious time that we’ve had with them over the summer. But the idea of back to routine, and the sanity it brings, is like a breath of cooler fall air.
One of the hairy routines of back to school is getting everyone out the door, washed, brushed and fed with the backpack full of essentials and a healthy packed lunch. When I say routine, I really mean the “for the last time, puleese finish your breakfast, the school bell rings in 5 minutes and it takes 10 to get there” kind of rush in the morning.
So how do you keep your sanity in the morning and your kids bellies full until recess or lunch? It’s all about what you feed them. It needs to be fast, filling and check off a nutritious box or two in the process.
Start the day off right with a balanced breakfast:
• Cereal with egg and fruit
• Cereal or granola with plain Greek yogurt and fruit
• Toast with boiled egg and fruit
• Smoothie and toast
In case you didn’t pick up on the theme above, there’s almost always a protein (egg, Greek yoghurt, smoothie with protein powder) offered at breakfast. Oats are a slow releasing carbohydrate and don’t lead to energy highs and lows, leaving your budding Einstein with his head on the desk for a snooze before lunch.
Cereal is a staple in most families, but don’t be drawn in by the marketing of sugary, refined and colour laden cereals being a good source of fibre or nutrients that will make a difference. With more awareness about the importance of fibre, salt and trans fats, my hope is that reducing sugar will be the next wave. You can be on the cutting edge of a new trend by looking out for a cereal’s sugar content as far down the ingredient list as possible, if it’s there at all. Nature’s Path do make some cereals without sugar; Millet and Rice Flakes, Rice, Millet, Kamut and Corn Puffs and Agave Granola. Mix them all up and presto, your own healthy cereal!
Now to pack those darn lunches. The first couple of weeks may start off swimmingly, but then soon becomes to the hum drum of the same old and you are reaching for new ideas.
Here’s some to keep you going:
- Get the kids involved. Put up a list or calendar on the fridge and have everyone contribute to what’s for lunch. It may need some tweaking, but here’s a chance to teach them about a balanced lunch with protein, carbs, fruit and veggies.
- Try to incorporate leftovers to cut down on cooking. Add your suggestions to the list on the fridge, knowing what’s on the menu for the week. You’ll know that because you meal plan right?!
- Use wraps instead of sandwiches or roll out the bread with a rolling pin and fill with spreads of calcium rich tahini (sesame seed spread—if it’s safe for your school) and banana or hummus and grated carrot for the fastest lunch ever.
- Have thermos days, wrap days or sandwich days. It’ll take away the boredom of the same old in the lunch bag.
For more ideas to save your sanity, I’ve make a Smart Kids Breakfast and Lunch Meal Plan to support parents feed their kids a healthy breakfast and lunch to get the most out of the school day, and avoid the after school crash that leaves you wondering if you picked up with wrong kid from school. Here’s a few ideas to wet your appetite:
Filling for a Wrap, Pita or Sandwich:
Grated cheese and grapes
Falafel, hummus and salad
Grated carrot with cucumber, sprouts and hummus
Sides or Accompaniments
Seaweed – nori sheets, strips or krinkles
Cream cheese or soft goats cheese as a dip with low sodium pretzels
The meal plan has over 15 recipes, 10 breakfast ideas, 15 thermos fillers, 20 sandwich and wrap fillings, Sides and sweet endings to finish off the mid day meal and a two week meal plan to get you started, a template for future meal plans.
I know you can do this. A healthy packed lunch without pulling out your hair every morning. Just think of those great grades, glowing remarks about your energetic and well balanced kid from the teacher—you’ll be the one deserving top marks!