Dietitians’ Tips for Back to School Food Shopping & Preparation
Although it may seem that having the kids back in school means you’ll have more time and energy for cooking, for many parents this time of year is actually the busiest. Mornings mean feeding everyone breakfast, packing their lunches, and getting them out the door on time. Later, afternoons and evenings are filled with after-school activities, sports practices, lessons, homework, and more—leaving you barely any time to prepare a luxurious dinner.
To help you get over the back to school hump, we asked several dietitians to share their best back-to-school advice for food shopping and meal prepping. The following tips from registered dietitians will ensure that you’re able to feed your family like a pro during this busy season.
Having healthy foods on hand is key to eating well when time is short. Samina Qureshi, RDN, LD, IFNCP suggests, “Take inventory of what you already have at home and think about what types of meals and snacks you can prepare. Once you have an idea of what you can put together with the food you have at home, make a list of items you’ll need from the store to complete those meals. For example, if you have a box of spaghetti and some shredded cheese at home, you can purchase a protein (ground beef or turkey), frozen spinach, and pasta sauce from the store to make a balanced meal everyone will enjoy.”
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Maximize Your Weekends
Speaking of extra time, when you do have breathing room on weekends, it can help take some of the burden off during the week. Sarah Marjoram, MS, RDN, LD says, “Set aside time to plan and prep on the weekend! Look ahead to your week’s commitments and think through your meals and snacks. Chop, portion, and prep as much as you can over the weekend and you will get ahead of those busy weeknights.”
Most cooked foods are safe in the refrigerator for up to four days, and hard-boiled eggs can be safely kept for one week.
And if you want to get chopping the Thermomix® makes it a breeze. All you have to do is select the speed to control how coarsely or finely you want your ingredients chopped, and the machine will take care of everything in one bowl.
You can also use your weekend time for planning out your weekly meals and making your shopping list. Jaime Windrow, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN says, “Spending an hour one day looking through social media accounts and websites for ideas on packing school lunches can be helpful. Make a list of at least 15 healthy snacks to rotate through. Do the same for the ‘main’ dish of the lunch box, and just continue to rotate through, picking different items each week.”
Keep It Simple
Megan Boitano, MS, RDN, LDN says, “While a beautifully packed lunch box looks great on social media, if your child doesn’t eat anything you packed, it does very little to nourish and give them needed energy to get through their school day. Give yourself permission to pack foods that your child will eat.”
Tracy Mann, MS, RD seconds keeping things simple. She says, “As a mom of four, convenience is almost as important to me as the nutritional value of food! I love the ease of fresh fruits like grapes, apples, and bananas, or vegetables like baby carrots and mini bell peppers that need relatively little preparation. My kids also like popcorn, string cheese, and tube yogurt for grab and go options.”
Get The Kids Involved
Ashley Sweeney, MS, RD says, “Get your kids involved and get a system in place with school lunches! Fill their own cubbies, drawers, or boxes at home with mom-approved snacks and items for them to help fill their lunch boxes with.”
For more tips on selecting and preparing healthy back to school food for your kids, be sure to check out the blog this Friday!
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