Start New School Year With Good Nutrition

Kids and parents want tasty meals that can be made and eaten quickly but aren’t full of empty calories.

So, as you gear up for the school year, consider carving out some time from your busy schedule to do some meal planning.

When planning, consider offering a variety of foods to help children get the nutrients they need to grow  strong both mentally and physically.

Rather than spending your hard-earned money in the fast-food line, choose to do your own grocery shopping and food preparation.

Here are some tips to help you along the way:

Think of the five food groups. Fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein (meat, fish, beans etc.).
With your family, write down a list of all of the foods your family likes from each of the food groups, then make a list of foods that you and your kids would like to try.

Include foods from both groups as you plan your weekly meals.

Use the Internet.
Look up recipes on the Internet by using search terms such as “chicken and vegetables” or “fast healthy meals for kids recipes.”

Of the many web sites, some even allow you to type in the items that are on sale to help you find a recipe.

The Internet is a compelling resource for making your meals quick, healthy and affordable.

Purchase foods around the perimeter of the store.
Normally, this area includes non-processed food such as fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy products and bread.

Sometimes it is more affordable to buy frozen or canned fruit and vegetables. You should also consider shopping in the bean and grains aisle.

Stay away from the snack aisle.
Buy snacks that are both healthy and tasty. Here are a few you might want to consider:

In-season fruit; vegetables and dip; granola bars; cheese sticks; popcorn kernels (to pop on the stove); yogurt, trail mix; and frozen or other fruit bars.

Note: Most schools are peanut-free, so check labels before purchasing items to pack in your child’s lunch.

Avoid buying soda and other sugary drinks.
Instead, offer your family low fat milk, 100% juice or water.

Keep it simple.
Use your grill or crock pot often.