When do your kids go back to school? Mine start August 29 and boy, is it bittersweet. I hate saying goodbye to summer while at the same time I’m desperate to get some structure in our lives again. A new school year feels like a fresh start in many ways, definitely in terms of diet. Ice cream for lunch is not unheard of these days.
But I’m ready to get this family back on track and I’ve partnered with GIANT Food Stores to share some tips to help you tackle those healthy new school year resolutions.
Let’s break it down meal by meal. And first things first: coffee. 😉 You’ll see a lot of Nature’s Promise products in this post and I love them not only for their high quality but because they make organics affordable.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so make sure the kids get a good start by having some quick and easy things on hand. I don’t know about you but mornings are RUSHED in my house. A bowl of GIANT’S Own Brand Oat’s and Os with a handful of blueberries is something easy that the kids can serve themselves.
Nature’s Promise nut butters on a slice of whole grain toast with a banana is a perfect starter and my kids LOVE this combo. Add some Nature’s Promise Granola to yogurt for a filling breakfast. I always try to get some protein and some fruit in their bellies before sending them off.
Have a few go-tos (breakfast is one of those meals my kids don’t seem to mind eating the same thing over and over again) and mornings will go much more smoothly.
Build a Better Lunch
My kids rarely buy school lunch so we pack a LOT. GIANT’s nutritionists have put together this infographic to help parents pack healthy lunches for their kiddos. If you’d like a printable version, just click on the image to get the full size picture.
They’ve got a few basic tips for us for great school lunches:
- Remember that there are 5 food groups. Try to include a minimum of 3 of them in your child’s lunchbox.
- Get your kids involved (more on this below). Use GIANT’s infographic or go here for a list of foods in each category. Let them choose what they like.
- Remind yourself to add variety by choosing a lunchbox with different sections.
- Lunch doesn’t have to be a sandwich! Think outside the lunchbox.
I used some small containers and muffin liners to fill this bento box with a variety of goodies my kids love. I’d probably put a piece of cling wrap on the hummus to avoid a mess but otherwise this was so easy for me to throw together and it’s colorful, healthy, and delicious. A win!
Look for GIANT’s Own Brand and Nature’s Promise organics for a great selection of healthy and reasonably priced items the kids will love.
Both of my kids play sports so the ‘whats-for-dinner’ scramble makes evenings even crazier. Throw in a lack of planning with running to practice and you have a recipe for disaster. Take the time over the weekend (or whatever day works for you) to make a dinner plan for each night of the week. I’m preaching to myself here, too, because I’ve totally fallen off the wagon over the summer. But I know for a fact that having a meal plan in advance gives you a handle on the week before it even starts.
I love the Nature’s Promise chicken and that’s good protein for my kids before they go run their hearts at out soccer.
And one more tip: If you seriously have no time to grocery shop, check if Peapod delivery is available in your are. We LOVE this service, especially during the school year.
Stock the Snacks
My daughter is starting middle school this year and her lunch period is at 10:18 AM. I’ll save you my rant on how absurd this is, but clearly that child is going to come home starving. And when a kid comes home starving they’ll grab whatever they can find to stuff in their mouths. So be prepared!
GIANT has a variety of healthy, delicious, and no-fuss snacks the kids can grab right out of the cupboard.
Fresh fruit is another quick and easy after-school snack that the kids gobble right down. Grapes and berries require no cutting so they’re self-serve. Perfect!
And for a sweet treat, I’ll just leave this right here. Organic Hazelnut Spread. Oh. My.
Enlist the Kids
When I talked about packing lunches above I mentioned getting your kids to help choose the foods that they want. The same holds true for dinners and snacks. It doesn’t all have to be mom’s job to feed the world. We do a family meeting (where I’m very dramatic about calling everyone together – the kids love it) and we plan our weekly menu that includes breakfasts, lunch foods, and snacks.
Also make the kids responsible for getting as much ready the night before as they’re able to. A checklist might help. I know I’m like a broken record: “Brush your teeth. Did you brush your teeth? Go brush your teeth.” We’re working on this….again this year. 😉
Find More Resources
The chooseyourplate.gov site is a great resource for meal planning and to give you some ideas for a variety of foods to include in your menu.
GIANT Food Stores offer consultations with nutritionists in classes and individual consultations. Find your local store on the website to learn more about this. Follow along on the GIANT Facebook and Twitter pages, too. They share some great tips and recipes!
The generous folks at GIANT Food Stores are sponsoring a $25 gift card giveaway for one of my readers so you can try some of these products and kick of a healthy school year in your home, too. This giveaway is open to US residents ages 18+ only (make sure you’re near a GIANT, of course!) and will end at 11:59pm ET on August 29, 2016.