Meal Planning Tips for the School Year
Yes, back to school is just around the corner! I almost feel like we put as much energy into back to school as we do Christmas! Clothes, backpacks, school supplies, shoes, haircuts and the list goes on. Of course one of the major focuses in our home is food. 🙂
Many homes go from relatively sane during the summer months to adrenaline rushing madness when school starts. OK, maybe that might be extreme, but I am sure you get the picture.
When we are busy rushing here and there, the fast, convenient, accessible food becomes more and more prevalent. I have to admit that the marketers of processed, packaged food have done a phenomenal job at selling their product! Fortified, enriched, natural, high in vitamin C, added calcium are phrases that as parents we might look for as we all want are children to be healthy. However, these phrases have a hint of truth mixed in with copious amounts of illusion.
You know what does not lie? Real, whole food. Simple, but often times extremely hard too implement, especially when you have picky eaters, athletes, crazy schedule for parents and kids and sugar addictions surfing the background of all of this.
So, how do we start choosing our food differently?
- Take time on the weekend to plan your meals as a family. EVERYONE should have input as to what they would like to eat each week. When kids feel their opinion and needs are valued, there is more compliance with meals especially dinners. Kids are amazing at searching the internet ….. so get them to search for recipes that could be incorporated. Use this handy template to write down your weekly meals and hang it up so everyone can see what is the menu is each day.
- Shopping! Take your kids shopping with you. It teaches them the value of food, provides insight into how much prep is needed to put meals on the table, and budgeting. Have your kids pick out a different fruit or vegetable each week that they would like to try. Encourage them to look up different ways to eat this food through various recipes.
- Keep the kids in the kitchen! Yes, I realize most of us tell the kids to get out of the kitchen, but when you have the kids involved (prepping, cooking, setting the table) so much can happen during that time together, especially picky eaters. The recipes that your kids pick out with your meal plan, are the ones they should be helping with.
- Get your kids making their OWN lunch! This is a big one, but well worth it! It will definitely take time on your part to implement this habit. We often times don’t want to do this, as it sucks up more time the night before or in the morning that is limited to begin with. However, by having your kids make their own lunch gives them freedom, confidence and helps them learn about food. 3 years ago I started teaching my kids to make their own lunches. I started out by giving them a template: Basically include protein, fat and fibre, but can be broken down to: 1 fruit, 2 veggies, Main meal (sandwich, leftovers, salad), a treat and of course WATER (not juice). This was printed and hanging in our kitchen. Too much sugar at lunch, will not fuel their minds, create extra energy that is hard to harness for both child and teacher and depletes them of needed nutrients to grow. Today, my kids are responsible for their lunches which saves me time in the morning and gives them responsibility and accountability. NOTE: my 7 year old has started this routine, but not quite on his own yet. He has great older sisters to role model for him though! To help the creativity to flow, grab your Deli Snack Box template here!