Beating the Back to School Madness

Beating the back to school madness

Nutrition is important at every age, especially during the early years of life when children are learning, growing and developing. Eating a wide variety of foods can ensure that they build a strong immune system, develop their brain, support activity levels and improve cognitive function. Setting a solid foundation can also help with forming habits and behaviours that encourage healthy eating and good nutrition all the way into adulthood.

With the new school year kicking off, now is the perfect time to start planning healthy and nutritious meals for the kids. Let’s take a look at a typical school day and see what strategies may help to ease back into routine.

Start with a healthy breakfast

young girl eating breakfast

For children, the importance of not skipping breakfast has been well established as they need the energy to learn, grow and play.  School mornings can often feel rushed with parents making sure that kids are dressed, have brushed their teeth, packed their bags and are in the classroom before the school bell rings. That’s why keeping breakfast simple rather than making an elaborate hot meal, can help to reduce the mad morning rush. Why not try these quick and nutritious meals?

  • Wholegrain cereal with milk
  • Granola with fruit and yoghurt
  • Breakfast wrap with boiled or scrambled eggs
  • Toast with peanut butter, vegemite and cheese or avocado
  • Smoothie
  • Porridge

Pack a healthy lunchbox

healthy lunch box options

Children consume around 30% of their daily food intake at school so having a healthy lunchbox can definitely shape their day. Including a wide variety of foods from the five food groups can be an easy way to fill up their lunchbox and make sure that they meet their daily nutrition requirements.

  1. Fruit: fresh, frozen, tub of diced fruit in natural juice, dried fruit or fruit salad.
  2. Grain foods: wholegrain breads and rolls, pasta, noodle, rice, quinoa, couscous, corn thins, wholegrain crackers, pikelets/crumpets or bagels.
  3. Vegetables: cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrot sticks, air popped popcorn or leftover cooked vegetables.
  4. Meat and alternatives: lean chicken, beef, lamb, pork or turkey, hardboiled egg, canned tuna or salmon, falafels, tofu cubes or legumes.

Some ideas for recess/morning tea:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Yoghurt
  • Pikelets or rice cakes with peanut butter
  • Veggie sticks

A great way to make sure that kids are excited by their lunches is to get them involved in preparing healthy recipes for their lunchboxes. Some easy ideas include:

  • Pasta or rice
  • Sandwich or wrap
  • Veggie slice or quiche
  • Homemade scrolls

Take a look below to see some examples of how to build a healthy lunchbox.

LUNCHBOX #1
Mandarin
Sandwich with tuna, cucumber and cream cheese
Cherry tomatoes and diced cucumbers

LUNCHBOX #2
Diced peaches in fruit juice
Cheese and crackers
Zucchini frittata
Muesli slice

LUNCHBOX #3
Banana
Tub of yoghurt
Leftover spaghetti bolognese
Carrots and cucumber with hummus

Top tips for a healthy lunchbox:

  1. Tick off the five food groups. This will ensure that kids are getting the nutrients they need to learn, grow and develop.
  2. Keep it cool so that food stays fresh and safe. Choose an insulated lunch box and pack a freezer brick or wrapped frozen drink bottle next to foods that should be kept cold.
  3. Always have a water bottle. Choosing water instead of sugar sweetened beverages such as juice, cordial or soft drink can help them stay hydrated and will benefit their overall well-being.
  4. Get the children involved. Write a shopping list together or get them to choose the fruits and vegetables or the different cheeses or yoghurt flavours when you’re at the supermarket.
  5. Keep it simple and interesting. By changing up their lunchbox you can keep them engaged in the healthy choices and make sure they are enjoying their food.
  6. Encourage them to sit and eat before play time.

 Prepare an after-school snack attack

fun and healthy lunch box options for kids

It can be a long time for kids to wait between lunch time and dinner. Having snacks ready to grab and go is a good idea, especially if they have after school activities, sports or play dates. You can use the same model as building a healthy lunchbox to make some healthy snacks.

Foods such as fried foods, cakes, biscuits and lollies and drinks such as soft drinks, cordial or juice should not be every day foods as this may cause children to miss out on important nutrients. They should be consumed occasionally and in small amounts as they can contribute to health problems such as tooth decay and excessive weight gain.

 Role model healthy eating

healthy family meal at the table

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that childhood is a time of learning and the best way to encourage lifelong habits is by eating well yourself. Kids often mirror the adults they see every day so family meal time can be a great opportunity to catch up about their day at school or how they went with their extra-curricular activities.

 

 

How Lite n’ Easy can help!

Easy Bites are packed full of flavour and make the perfect, healthier dinner option for the little ones. They also make a great lunch or snack option for older kids and adults. With a stash of Easy Bites in the freezer, the little ones could be eating a nutritious meal just minutes after you walk in the door, giving you back precious time to unwind and get on with the rest of your evening routine. Give us a call on 13 15 12 or click here to order now.

 

Sarah Cinar, APD Dietitian at Lite n' Easy