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What do you do when your home becomes the classroom, the playground and the cafeteria, all in one? Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, for many, back-to-school has been replaced with stay-at-home and the familiar structured routine of school days is going by the wayside. Parents around the nation are planning for some version of virtual learning this school year, which also means planning for meals that are typically provided by the school. This can feel overwhelming, but check out these tips to keep your child eating healthy and on some type of schedule.
- Set aside time for breakfast and lunch, and have your child sit at the table to eat with minimal distractions. Watching TV or being on the phone while eating can dull the body’s sensation of fullness, which can result in overeating. Also, limiting screen time during the day and taking short breaks for physical activity can help your child focus on learning.
- Try to keep healthy snacks on hand and unhealthy snacks out of reach or out of sight from your child’s learning environment. Studies have suggested that simply keeping unhealthy snacks further away or making them a bit harder to access can greatly reduce the frequency and amount of snacks eaten. Keeping fresh fruit or pre-cut veggies on hand makes healthy snacks convenient and more likely your child will eat them!
- Keep it simple. Brainstorm easy-to-make meals with your child and plan ahead for the entire week. Try to make it fun by creating a weekly menu similar to the school’s cafeteria and involving your child in the cooking or preparation to their ability.
- Some schools will be offering lunch pick-up despite going virtual. Check with your child’s school to see if this is an option. School lunches are required to follow guidelines to create well-rounded meals with healthy options. This is an easy way to relieve concerns over your child’s daily nutrition.
- When possible, eat meals with your child and model healthy eating. Children see what their parents eat and follow suit. Healthy eating is a win-win!
Quick and Easy Meal Ideas
- Sandwiches are the easiest thing to make, and have lots of potential to be healthy! Switch out white bread for whole grain bread and purchase lean deli meats and low fat cheeses, like turkey and Swiss. Serve with an apple and/or some carrots and you have a filling meal in less than five minutes.
- Hard boiled eggs are easy to grab, packed with protein and save well in the fridge. Eat with grapes, celery, peanut butter and some whole grain crackers for a balanced meal.
- Arguably the easiest way to “meal-prep” is to make extra dinner and pop it in the microwave the next day for lunch. Just be sure to store food in the fridge and reheat correctly to ensure food safety.
No matter what your child’s school year looks like, I hope this post was helpful in providing some simple and easy tips and tricks for making mealtimes healthy!