As the calendar marches on and students prepare to head to class, it’s a great time for all of us to consider a more inspired mealtime. Here are some things you can do to make your mealtime easier, delicious, and yes, nutritious, too.
Get ready for breakfast and make lunches the night before
Choose multiple recipes that use similar ingredients for the week to manage both nutrition and limit the potential for food waste
Stock up on favorite sale items for pantry and freezer. If you have some favorite meals, you can be confident that you will use the ingredients for these and not waste them.
Involve the family. Pretty much everyone in the house can help get meals on the table. Assign age appropriate tasks, and with a few simple guidelines, have everyone make their own lunch. Offer tips like making sure there are at least three food groups (pick from fruits, veggies, grains, lean proteins, and dairy) and that the items are food safe stored in backpacks and/or lockers. Allow for some creativity, like cheese and crackers instead of a sandwich, or breakfast foods that are easy to transport. Keeping things interesting and creative can help inspire participation in mealtime chores.
Make meals work overtime. Consider the entire week and month when planning meals. Taking a moment to look at what the days ahead have in store can actually make meal planning easier. If you know you have evening obligations after school and/or work that involve mealtime, make meals that can be easily frozen for future lunches or dinners. Casseroles, stew, or chili are all great options that include multiple food groups and can usually be made ahead of time.
Eat what you like. Favorite foods can pretty much all fit in. Of course, nutrition and food safety are on our list of daily needs, so start there and then figure out how to fit in more decadent treats.
Remember balance. Five food groups, multiple choices within each group, lots of eating occasions between meals and snacks. Offer options that cover you on all of these levels to help ensure you get the nutrition you need in every tasty bite.