It’s no secret that having school-aged kids is a lot of work.
I love every second of it but have also learned from my challenges and roadblocks. One of the most important ways I set my kids up for healthy successes is through planning their meals and snacks in ways that are both routine and novel.
Routine works for me because it allows me to plan and organize for the coming week and trying new things has helped me get my kids enjoying a variety of tasty, healthy food that they used to turn their noses up at.
In this post, I’m sharing a few of my favourite and tested methods of keeping my school-aged kids healthy through the school year.
Plan ahead: aka, ‘meal prep’
Get your kids off to a great start by pre-planning breakfast options. Healthy breakfasts do not have to be time-consuming or complicated. Always keep some of your kid’s favourite, easy breakfast items on hand so you’re never in a pinch.
I like to pre-cut my fruit and store in several different glass containers in the fridge. In the mornings, I use this fruit to offer my kids a healthy selection at the breakfast table to grab from. Giving kids choice allows them to feel more in control. This has worked well to turn my kids onto a variety of healthy foods.
They especially love choosing their own fruits to decorate a smoothie or oatmeal bowl like this one.
I also have an amazing, go-to breakfast waffle recipe that has saved me so much time over the years. Though waffles aren’t, traditionally, the healthiest of breakfast items, with just a few small tweaks you can make a delicious and nutritious option, perfect for busy mornings.
Healthy Start Waffles
These waffles work both fresh or frozen and reheated. If you freeze them, you can take them out in the morning and pop them into the toaster and they make a quick, easy breakfast or portable lunch for that day.
Until my children got used to the taste of these waffles, I would (sometimes) put a couple of chocolate chips on top of the waffles to decorate and make them more appealing. This worked like a charm to get them excited about eating them. I also slice the waffles into fingers so they can pick them up and dip them into a little bowl of pure maple syrup (kids love eating things with their hands that they can dip).
Now my children eat these amazing, healthy waffles without the chocolate chips.
For both lunch and dinner, it’s essential to plan in advance. Take the time before the school year starts to sit down with your kids and plan out a schedule for lunch and dinner that the whole family will enjoy and you can all stick to.
For lunches, pick a meal plan that is easy to repeat, enjoyable and healthy. For example, in our house, every Monday is: cut up veggies, hard-boiled eggs and whole-grain pita with hummus. Every Tuesday is soup in a thermos with chopped veggies and fruit and so on…
Tip: When grocery shopping, make sure that your list contains the items needed for these planned meals. See our Meal Planning for Busy People post. Take an hour or two over the weekend and prepare anything that you can pre-cook, pre-chop or prep (such as fruits and veggies, batch soup, whole grains, overnight oats). It’s nice to have these prepared items stored in resealable glass containers so you can easily see and access them when you need them.
This planning an prepping will help save you time and money, as you won’t be buying items that are not part of your plan that will just sit in your fridge and spoil.
Also, make sure you have, on hand, healthy alternatives to conventional snack items. Of course, offering your kids fruits and vegetables is a great choice when it comes to nutrition, but you can find some fun, convenient items that are made with healthy ingredients and are school-friendly such as Made Good brand options and more.
For dinner, the same rules apply. Sit down with your family ahead of time and discuss a Monday through Friday dinner plan. This way, your kids feel empowered by being involved and they start to look forward to what’s on the menu. Once your kids get old enough, start asking them if they would like to get involved in meal prep. They can help by washing fruits and vegetables, or setting the table while you prepare dinner. This helps the family bond after a long day and shows your children the responsibility of preparing healthy meals is for the whole family.
I hope these ideas get you and your family excited about prepping for healthy success through the school year. Once you get into the swing of things, it’s a habit like everything else.
I’m on a mission to make your life easier, so we’ve got lots of healthy ingredients and snack items on our site to help keep your school kids healthy!