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August, 29 2018 Wellness

How to Ace the Back to School Meal Game!

One of the side effects of the long, lazy days of summer is often a relaxed routine. Mornings are slow and casual mornings and meals tend to get made only when little ones run inside hungry after a day of playing in the sun.

Back to School means Back in Action! Your mornings are about to get a little more crazed, plus you have packed lunches, after school snacks, and classroom treats to start thinking about! But don’t let first day of school jitters get to you! Ruthy Kirwan from Percolate Kitchen (and the upcoming Uncomplicated Kitchen!) is here to help you ace the school year.

Weekday Mornings

Kirwan says to do yourself the ultimate favor: make everything “grab and go” as you possibly can! Think overnight oats, baked oatmeal, yogurt in squeeze pouches, egg muffins, and so on. Try simplifying their options to a few rotating choices that are always on hand. They’ll love the independence of choosing their own breakfast, and you’ll love not running a diner.

Kirwan also suggests considering the entire order of the morning to maximize time best for your family. “I make sure my daughter, who’s four, gets dressed and brushes her hair and everything before she eats. That way she can dawdle at the table and maybe watch a show and I don’t stress that she won’t be ready in time.”

School Lunches

Take a hint from high school algebra and stick to a formula! Kirwan’s kiddos get a protein, a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy, and a snack, like a granola bar or a bag of pretzels.

Some families will find it easiest to pack everything for the week on Sundays, some the night before, and some will be grabbing things as they run out the door, but so long as your fridge is stocked, you’ll be good to go! For children who are old enough to help, organize “lunch boxes” in the fridge so that they know their options for piecing together their own brown bag masterpieces.

After School Snacks 

Tiny bodies will need to refuel after a day of learning and playing, but there is little worse than a battle royale at the dinner table. What’s a mom or dad to do? “My go to after school snack for my kids is a banana!” says Kirwan. “If we’re home, I’ll spread it with peanut butter and roll it in Cheerios for a kiddie-friendly sushi. It’s also a handy portable snack that we can take to the park or eat on the road.”

Breaking for a snack immediately after school and then encouraging a bit of physical activity will refresh your little ones and give them the opportunity to work up an appetite again in time for dinner.

Birthday Treats & Class Snacks

With so many allergies to consider, schools and parents have to be super cautious when bringing in outside food. But don’t let that keep you from celebrating! Think outside the box and consider fruit as a sweet treat! A friend of Kirwan’s recently hosting a birthday party with watermelon cake pops for the kids. “She used a melon baller to make large balls of fresh watermelon, then dripped the pops with melted candy melts.” Melons are also an ideal option for slicing and stacking to craft a tiered “cake!”

No matter what routine you craft for your family, be patient! September might be a month of finding your groove, but you’ll be getting straight As by midterms!