One tip I came up with is, preparing my kids lunches and snacks just like I prepared during the summer. The only difference is preparing meals that travel. I find that it is easy to get frustrated and give up if you don't have a plan. So where do you start?
I think this is a great time to include your family in the planning. By doing so, you allow them to have input into what they will eat, which I find they are more likely to then eat it. So here are my steps to creating a healthy start to the school year for your kids (this can also be beneficial to you even if you don't have kids but need to have lunch and snacks for yourself).
1. Prepare a menu - I asked my kids what they wanted to eat during the school day. You might be surprised how helpful they can be (now this may or may not be useful information if your children are really young, you can't pack candy for the entire lunch). The suggestions they gave me where wraps. What a great idea for the first week of school. We talked about the different kinds of wraps. They suggested Hummus wraps, veggie wraps, and chicken wraps. Once you have some suggestions you can create a menu around those suggestions to make your lunches and snacks. Also, you are going to have to bring variety, because we know how easy it is to give up if you have to eat the same thing all the time.
2. Shopping - I involve my family in our shopping trips. I tend to go shopping right after church on Sunday because that is the time we are all together. The Trader Joe we go to is only minutes away from our church and this helps me in the preparation time. My kids are older, however I love watching the families with the younger children pushing their own carts. So don't let your kids age keep you from allowing them to get involved in the family shopping trip. This cuts my time because everyone is given an assignment on what to get. This allows us to get in and out of the store in less than 30 minutes. If I was by myself I know it would take longer. And as a mother with limited time that extra help is useful.
3. Prep time - This takes some time, but it is well worth the effort. What's prep time? Once you get home and unpack your groceries, that is the best time to begin to prep your snacks for traveling. Make sure you invest in sandwich and freezer bags, you'll go through quite a bit. I take whatever my fruits and veggies are that I will be packing and clean them and cut them up and/or separate them into small sandwich bags. You can even prep some of the items you will use for the lunches, like the shredded carrots, diced mushrooms that I will use for the wraps. I would shred some of the carrots and put them in sandwich bags so the kids could grab some and put it on their wraps. Or if you find the shredded carrots, get that and the work is already done for you.
I separate the grapes into snack bags as well as broccoli, or baby carrots. This makes it easy for the kids to pack a lunch in the morning or even for me to grab a snack when I desire one during the day (I work from home). One thing we often don't do is get something to eat if it isn't easy and convenient. If we have cookies on the counter, we'll grab the cookies instead of washing the grapes or cutting up the broccoli. So if you have those items already in snack bags you'll eat them (additionally have less cookies or other tempting snacks on the counter). I know that works for my family. When I bring grapes in and forget to sort them, I can guarantee that I will probably be throwing some away because they went bad. However, if I sort them, I never have any left. That's the goal.
4. Pre-cooked meals - I am also taking the opportunity to cook some of the items that we will have for lunch. For example, I had my daughter make two homemade cheese pizzas. We had some for dinner and the rest was packaged for lunch. These are so much more healthy than ones they would get at the school cafe. I also baked some chicken breast strips that can be used in their wraps during the week. This is a great way to cut cost (buying lunches out) and a great way to cut time (doing the prep ahead of time).
I baked two packs of the chicken. Just season them with what ever season you like. I also put several gloves of fresh garlic on the chicken and baked it. Once it was finished I put them in a large Ziploc bag so that my kids can pull out a chicken strip or two to use on their wraps. Great time saver! The wraps I purchased to use with lunch are healthier choices as well. Be creative. And if you didn't know, you can try something out at Trader Joe and if you don't like it you can get your money back. That's a great incentive to try out new things. So we tried two flour tortillas. We purchased the Chia Seed (which has omega, protein, 1 wrap is 130 cal, 260mg sodium, 2g fiber and 3g of protein 20g of carbs) and the spinach tortilla (100 cal, 160 mg sodium, 20 g carb, 2 g protein). The girls can be creative how they make their wraps. They can use a chia seed wrap one day with hummus and veggies and or chicken. Or they can do a spinach wrap with chicken, shredded carrots and a little cheese.
So I'm getting my kids ready for a healthy school year. I also suggest you make sure your kids are getting their vitamins every morning. As much as we want to make sure we are getting good nutrients, I believe adding vitamin supplements to your diet isn't a bad thing. You want to set your kids (and yourself) up for a healthy year. Taking vitamin C and a good multivitamin is a great way to help your body fight off the germs, virus and colds coming our way. I happen to give my kids (and take as well) vitamin supplements from Market America. I like the vitamins because they are in powder form. For those that have problems swallowing pills or that have reactions to the coating on pills, these are great. Partly because they also go to work faster because they don't have to break down in your system. So with these tools, my kids are off to a great start for the upcoming school year!
I'd like to hear from you! What tips do you use to help your kids eat healthy (or for your family in general) during the school year? Share your tips so that we can encourage each other. If you are interested in learning more about the vitamins I mentioned you can go to:
http://isotonix.marketamerica.com/jewelwilliams/USA or you can e-mail me @ Williamsinnovativenetwork@gmail.com for more details. Next week, I'll begin to share my actual health journey and some of the things I found that helped me along the way. Until them, keep striving so that you can WIN in health!