Photo: Sara Siskind

1. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

Focus on fresh fruit, purified water, protein, and fiber while kids are in the comfort of their home. Fuel them up with a simple smoothie that is quick to make and satisfies their nutrient needs. I like blending yogurt, banana, strawberries, milk, baby spinach and touch of honey. If smoothies aren’t their thing, try a snack plate with cut up cheese, berries, wholegrain crackers or bread. This wakes their bodies and brains up in a healthy way and will sustain them for the long day ahead.

2. Who Say’s Leftovers Are a No No?

Whole grain pancakes for lunch? If it’s good enough for breakfast, why not use it for lunch? Many times, kids don’t finish their breakfast. Instead of trashing it, let’s wrap it up with a little fresh fruit and cut up veggies and send it for school lunch. Not only is this easy, but less wasteful. I even recommended sending in leftovers from their favorite dinner. Make sure to cook enough so you have extra to eat twice. Soups are also an easy, healthy option that can be made ahead of time and packed in a thermos for school. Be creative and use what you have.  It can save you money and time.

3. Pack Easy, Simple Foods That You Know Your Kids Like and In Small Portions

Don’t feel bad with packing “the usual”- cheese sticks, apples, crackers, and yogurt. Choose healthy versions. Kids will enjoy them, and you’ll like the ease of tossing something familiar into a lunch bag that also provides energizing nutrients. I also love packing a small, low-sugar snack bar.  Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites is one of our family’s favorites! They are perfectly portioned and loaded with pistachios, cranberries, protein, fiber and antioxidants.  Not to mention they taste amazing too.  

4. Kids Have Voices Too!  Ask Them What They Want

Instead of trying to be the food detective, sit down with your kids and ask them what they want for school lunch. It doesn’t have to be perfect or gourmet. The key is to make sure they eat something nutritious that they also enjoy. Junk food is unacceptable; however we are fortunate these days, there are so many cookie and chip options that have upgraded ingredient lists and are even organic. Supermarkets have aisles designated to organic foods and snacks to make shopping easier. As long as the snack choice is paired with fresh fruit and vegetables and a small portion of protein, there is nothing wrong with a cookie or chip.

5. Have a Game Plan for Their Return from School

After school is one of the best times to fuel your kids with heathy foods. They come home hungry, really hungry. This is when a little preparation goes a long way. I recommend carving out the time to have a meal ready for them when they walk in the door, or if you are on the road make sure to pack a healthy sandwich or soup for them to eat. Whatever you want to serve for dinner, serve it to them now. I can almost guarantee that your kids will eat their fruit and veggies if they are cut-up and ready on the table. By giving kids a satisfying meal with protein, vegetables and whole grains when they are hungry, it prevents unnecessary snacking and filling up on empty calories until dinner time.