Summer is winding down and school will be starting soon. Are you ready? This can be a stressful time of year for families as they adjust to new schedules and managing the responsibilities of school and after school activities. Here are a few tips to help you ease into the transition and to keep your nutrition on track:
- Pack the night before. If your child brings a lunch from home, take a minute the night before to pack their lunch box. This will free up some time for you in the morning, and they’ll be ready to grab and go. Check back next week for ideas on what to pack for school lunch.
- Store lunch box supplies in a designated area. When it is time to pack a lunch, it can be frustrating if you can’t find what you need. Designate an area in your kitchen to keep lunch box supplies. Lunch boxes, plastic food storage containers and bags, forks and spoons, and water bottles are all good ideas. Take it a step further, and put non-perishable food items that you often pack for lunch right next to the lunch box supplies.
- Make the kids responsible. Let the kids take part in lunch box preparation. When they get home each day, put them in charge of emptying out lunch boxes and washing the containers. Instruct them on where the lunch box supplies should be put away and which items can be thrown away or recycled. When it is time to pack for tomorrow, let them put food in containers and fill up their water bottles.
- Check to see if your child’s school has a lunch calendar. With a house full of picky eaters, our school lunch calendar has been a real asset. My kids like to join in and eat school lunch every once in awhile. We can check the night before what will be served the following day. They can then choose whether to eat school lunch, or start packing their lunch box.
- Look into your school’s free or reduced lunch program. Many schools offer lunch programs for families who may benefit from them. Look on your school’s website or give them a call to find out if you qualify.
Have you heard the term “hangry”? It is when someone becomes angry because they are hungry. It’s a real emotion at our house! To prevent a case of the “hangries” do a little planning for after school snacks.
- Create a snack station by designating a certain cupboard, pantry shelf, or fridge section for snacks. Let the kids know that they may choose any snack from the designated area. Keep child sized dishes or containers near by so older kids can easily help themselves.
- Create a snack chart. If you are a little short on space and don’t have an area you can designated specifically for after school snacks, try using a snack chart. Something as simple as a lined sheet of paper will do. Write down nutritions snack options and let kids pick something from the list. If your kids do not know how to read yet, try drawing a picture of the item or taping part of the item’s wrapper or container to your sheet of paper. If you are struggling with snack ideas, check out the links below.
- Plan ahead. Over the weekend, take a little time to prepare snacks for the coming week. Chop up veggies, make a batch of muffins, or shop for items you have run out of.
Family mealtime is important for the physical, social, and emotional development of kids. As you shift from summer schedules to school time schedules, re-commit to family meals. Think about how you can create family mealtime in your home. How many nights a week can you realistically eat as a family? When will you plan your menus? How you will ensure your family is getting the nutrition that they need? For help answering these questions, click here. You’ll find all our posts on family mealtime. Check back next month for a fresh batch of ideas and recipes during Family Mealtime Month.
With a little preparation, you can be ready to hit the ground running. Take a moment this next few weeks and decide how you will ease into the transition. As you are planning out your menus for family mealtime, consider making Sesame Chicken. It’s quick, easy, and full of flavor.
Knowing my kids wouldn’t enjoy the spice from the ginger, I reserved some of the chicken and vegetables before I added the sauce. One small step and the whole family was happy. Enjoy!
Certified Nutrition Education Assistant