Another new school year is upon us and with that comes an opportunity to reset our kids’ eating habits and get them back into a regular routine of eating healthy. I know that this is sometimes an uphill battle, but with the correct tools in hand, it can be much easier!
My name is Katie Everson and I’m a Nutritional Consultant with a Masters in Nutrition Education and a mom of 3 active boys. I wish I could tell you that my kids eat perfectly, but that is just not reality as there are many situations that are simply out of my control (school birthday treats, play dates, etc.). However, I do know that if I continually put nourishing, whole foods in front of them whenever possible, I will build a strong foundation for their eating habits as they grow up. You can do the same for your kids, so let me help you get a jump-start for the upcoming school year!
Breakfast. We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that is absolutely true. Breakfast is an opportunity to give kids nourishing food so they can go to school to focus and learn. Most of us don’t have a lot of time in the morning so it has to be something quick. The majority of cereal available to us in the grocery store doesn’t provide the nourishment kids need, usually contains GMOs and includes a laundry list of processed ingredients.
Here are some alternative ideas you can consider giving your kids for breakfast:
- Scrambled eggs, omelets, or any way your kids will eat an egg. Eggs are an incredible source of protein and will help power kids through their morning at school. Serving eggs with fruit on the side is a great way to start their day. People tend to think that cooking eggs is a long process, but it truly is quicker than you think!
- Grain Free Banana Pancakes. This is a great recipe because you can make it ahead of time. I have a son who refuses to eat eggs, so this is a way that I can sneak them into his diet for protein.
- Honey Pork Sausage (Recipe Collection II: Family Edition). Sausage is another great idea for kids who don’t like eggs, but are lacking protein in the morning. You can make these the night before and then warm them up in the morning. Serve them up with the pancakes listed above, steel cut oatmeal, or fruit.
- Ezekiel English muffins with almond butter, a glass of whole milk, and fruit. Ideally you’d want to include more protein in your kids’ morning meal, however this is a good alternative for picky kids who are transitioning out of cereal or do not like some of the options mentioned above.
- Greek yogurt. You can add nuts, seeds, fruit, or honey to make it more fun and interesting.
Lunches and Snacks. If you cringe at the thought of packing your kids’ lunch and being prepared for after-school snacks, you are in the same boat with a lot of moms out there! It’s okay to feel overwhelmed because so many times it’s hard to come up with new ideas. However, once you figure out new food ideas that are nourishing, it is rewarding for both you and your kids.
Here are some ideas to help get you started:
- Soup, soup, soup! Soup is something you can make ahead and freeze in appropriate-sized containers that will work for your family. We all know that kids are picky and don’t like to eat everything all of the time. However, there are endless soup recipes available that are nourishing and made from whole foods. You can also get your kids involved in the process by having them cut up ingredients and help put the soup together if they are old enough. You can then warm it up in the morning before school and send it along in a thermos like this one that will keep things warm for up to 5 hours!
Both of Tracie’s Recipe Collections include a variety of soups you can try that are super tasty and very nourishing!
- Smoothies. You can make and freeze smoothies for later use, which will allow you to save time. Both of Tracie’s cookbooks also include several different smoothie recipes. One way to save time is to make smoothies and then freeze them in ice pop molds. You can take them right from the freezer, put them into your child’s lunch and they will be thawed perfectly for lunchtime. The key is to make several at one time so you don’t have to come back and make more for a while.
- Hummus (original Recipe Collection) or Ranch Dip and raw vegetables. These recipes can be used for both lunches and snacks. Kids love to dip almost anything in ranch! And on the flip side, hummus doesn’t have to be boring. You can add a variety of different flavors to traditional hummus that will spice things up to keep your kids’ interest.
- Hard-boiled eggs. These can be used for lunches or snacks. Match with vegetables and/or fruit to make a balanced meal.
- Miniature homemade pizzas. Lunches can be as simple as making little pizzas with an Ezekiel tortilla or English muffin (cut into ¼’s), along with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. Make 20 at a time and place them in the freezer. They can be put in lunches and eaten cold.
- Whole chicken leftovers. Use whole chicken that was made the night before. You can use a “clean” barbecue sauce (like Daddy Sam’s) and warm it up in the morning with the chicken. Place the chicken in a thermos (see pic above) and send along with a slice of sourdough for them to make a sandwich at lunch. You can also keep the chicken plain and make a wrap using an Ezekiel tortilla. Add spinach, cheese, avocado, or any other whole ingredient your child would like to have in it. Try using a container with built-in dividers (that also happens to be collapsible!) like this one:
Lunches do not have to be a formal recipe! The simpler you keep your ideas, the quicker it will be in the morning and the higher your success rate will be for providing quality food! Start with whole foods in mind and branch out to more recipes after you have practiced a bit.
- Leftovers are key. When you are planning your dinners for the week, double your recipe on the nights your meals are freezable or use them the following day for lunch. For example, when I make spaghetti and meatballs, I definitely plan on freezing the meatballs. I use Tracie’s Grain-free Meatball recipe (original Recipe Collection) along with Jovial brand (made from einkorn flour) or gluten free noodles. The more you freeze, the more variety you’ll have during the week with your kids. My kids are not always crazy about having the same meal two times in a row, so that is when I can rely on my freezer meals to pull a “new” meal out for their lunch. I always put hot meals in their thermos (see pic above) in the morning and it stays warm until lunch.
- After-school snacks. These can be a bit tricky because you don’t want it to get too involved with dinner coming soon. One idea is apple nachos. Slice up apples and spread them around a plate. Drop almond butter around it, add melted Enjoy Life chocolate chips, and walnuts. Give them a string cheese on the side and you have an easy, but balanced, after-school snack.
- Cheese and Fruit Kabobs (original Recipe Collection). This is another great after-school snack idea. It’s super easy and you can add whatever fruit you have on hand.
- Muffins. Lastly, muffins can be used for both lunches and snacks. They can be placed in the freezer and used over time. A great recipe to try is Tracie’s Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (Recipe Collection II: Family Edition) or Einkorn Flour Banana Muffins. If your kids like muffins, you can find several different recipes they like, set aside time to make them all in one day and then pop them in the freezer. You’d then have multiple muffins on hand and would not have to make them all that often. I always use Jovial einkorn flour for my muffins or coconut flour. When making muffins, quality ingredients are key. Try placing them in reusable pouches like these that are super cute and simultaneously save you money and the earth!
The above ideas should be a great way to jump-start the new school season! Every child has different food preferences, but the more we expose them to different foods, the more we learn about the variety they are willing to eat. Consistency will usually lead to a breakthrough of establishing successful mealtime habits.
Katie and her family