USA TODAY is reporting that as kids are heading back to school, that many parents are scrambling for ideas for quick breakfasts and easy bagged lunches. USA TODAY asked two registered dietitians to give parents ideas for healthful meals to pack at home.
I like the suggestions of the Registered Dieticians in this USA Today article:
“Children can’t make it three or four hours in the morning on just sugary cereal or pastry,” says Ward.
“At breakfast, I try to make sure my kids get a decent dose of protein (egg, cottage cheese, peanut butter), as well as complex carbohydrates like whole-grain toast or oatmeal, fruit, and dairy, such as skim or 1% milk or yogurt.
“I’m a big fan of school lunches, but you have more control over the cost and what your child eats if you pack lunch at home. Think outside of the box. Lunch can be more than a sandwich. Consider leftover pizza, soups, stews, pasta, chicken Caesar salad or even breakfast foods, like cereal with milk.
“I like to get my kids involved in preparing their own lunches. For five minutes the night before, we put our lunch together for the next day. It reduces the chaos in the morning.” Her suggestions:
•Yogurt parfait: Layer 1 cup low-fat yogurt, 1 cup berries or ¼ cup raisins, and 1 cup whole-grain cereal in a tall glass.
• Scrambled egg pocket: Scramble one egg or two; place in half a whole-wheat pita pocket; add salsa, black beans and grated cheese. Serve with fruit or 8 ounces of 100% fruit juice.
• Banana Ants-Under-The Dog: Take 1 white whole-grain hot dog roll, spread with 2 tablespoons peanut butter or sunflower seed butter (good for kids who are allergic to peanut butter), then sprinkle ¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries on top. Peel banana and put in hot dog roll. Have with 8 ounces of 1% low-fat milk. “This is one of my favorites,” Ward says. “This can also be lunch if the child brings the banana unpeeled and peels it right before eating. If you want this to be lunch, add some other food to the meal.”
• Smoothie: Place 4 ounces plain low-fat yogurt, 1 cup berries or 1 medium banana, ½ cup of 1% low-fat milk and 2 ice cubes in a blender or food processor. Serve with one or two pieces of whole-grain toast.
• Hard-cooked egg (or two), whole-grain roll or toast with jam, sliced apple and 8 ounces of 1% low-fat milk. This can also be made into a lunch. You can make eggs on the weekend for the week ahead.
• Quaker Oatmeal to Go bar, banana or other piece of fruit and 8 ounces of 1% low-fat milk.
•1 slice of leftover thin-crust cheese pizza, a peach or pear, 8 ounces 100% fruit juice, and a single-serving bag of low-fat popcorn (already popped).
•Turkey and cheese roll-ups: Wrap deli turkey around string cheese. Serve with whole-grain pretzels, carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes, fruit and 8 ounces 1% low-fat milk.
•Mediterranean wrap: Place hummus, tabbouleh and feta cheese on whole-wheat wrap and fold. Serve with a can of pineapple juice, an ounce of pistachios, a carton of low-fat yogurt and a Quaker chewy granola bar with protein.
•Bagel sandwich: Leftover cooked, chopped chicken tossed with grapes and low-fat mayo on a 2-ounce whole-wheat bagel. (You can buy these frozen and keep on hand for lunches.) With a single-serving carton of raisins and 8 ounces 1% low-fat milk.
•Whole-grain crackers, hummus, string cheese, single-serving carton of raisins (1 ounce), 8 ounces 1% low-fat milk and a Quaker chewy granola bar with protein.
•Hard-cooked egg (or two), whole-grain roll, single serving of mandarin oranges, single-serving carton of raisins, 1 ounce of in-shell pistachio nuts and 8 ounces of 1% milk.
“With breakfast, it’s all a matter of timing,” Taub-Dix says.
“Breakfast doesn’t have to be elaborate. It’s quick, not fast food. It can be something like mozzarella string cheese on a piece of bread. If you grab a glass of milk, that would be great.
“A big thing with kids is the lunch can’t be smelly. That’s why many won’t take a can of tuna fish for lunch.
“It’s good to interview your kids. Sit down with them and ask them what kind of things they like in their lunch and what they toss in the garbage or trade with other kids. That way you don’t waste your time and your money. You can even have a taste test at home. Buy several kinds of low-fat cheese or whatever you want to taste test and figure out which one they like best.” Her menu ideas:
•Whole-grain bagel with 1 tablespoon crunchy almond butter and 2 teaspoons of apple butter, 1 fresh pear and 1 cup of skim or 1% milk.
•Greek-style quesadilla: Place 1 seven-inch, whole-grain tortilla on a piece of foil wrap and sprinkle with ½ cup low-fat cheese, such as shredded mozzarella-type cheese, and sliced tomatoes, then cover with another tortilla. Carefully place the combo in the toaster oven until cheese melts. Top with ½ cup low-fat Greek-style yogurt.
•A whole-grain frozen waffle toasted with 1 slice of part-skim cheese melted on top of it sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, 1 cup of skim or 1% low-fat milk and 1 fresh peach.
•1 cup whole-grain cold cereal (preferably with less than 5 grams of sugar a serving and at least 5 grams of fiber) topped with fresh or frozen berries. With 1 cup skim or 1% low-fat milk.
•Multi-grain bread with 2 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter and 1 teaspoon of raspberry jam, melon wedge and 1 cup low-fat yogurt.
•2 slices of raisin breadwith 2 slices of low-fat mozzarella cheese, fresh sugar snap peas, 1 banana, handful of almonds and 1 cup of skim or 1% low-fat milk.
•1 cup of cooked whole-wheat pasta (cooked the night before) tossed with cubes of grilled chicken, carrots, zucchini, and pine nuts, and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Serve with an individual serving of crushed pineapple in its own juice and 1 cup skim or 1% milk.
•Mixed green salad with grape tomatoes, sliced yellow peppers, shredded carrots, ⅓ cup chickpeas, 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds and mandarin oranges and grilled lean meat, such as chicken, turkey or fish, with 2 tablespoons of salad dressing. With 1 cup low-fat yogurt.
Easy and healthy school lunches? It’s in the bag.
You can learn tons of more tips on how to help your kids and family eat more nutritious in my book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat.
You can also see if your family is at risk by using my Fit Family Assessment tool.
Also, you can find an 8-week Family Fitness Plan at my website.