There’s more to packing a school bag than sticking in some pens and pencils; the food you provide your child with has a big impact on their academic performance
As you gear up for a new school year, it’s important to put your kids’ nutrition on the school checklist. Countless studies link school performance and healthy eating habits. Treat this season of “academic beginnings” as a chance for the whole family to take a fresh approach to better-for-you eating.
From on-the-go breakfasts and brag-worthy brown bag lunches to after-school snacks and family friendly dinners, there are plenty of ways to pack nutrition and flavour into every meal. Often, creating healthier meals can be as easy as simply trading-up or swapping one food ingredient for a more nutritious choice.
Selecting menu options that help your family eat better begins at the supermarket with your shopping decisions. If the A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s of food labels make your head spin, you can always use online tools to help, such as the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System, which provides lots of useful information.
You can take other steps to make shopping easier for healthy eating, says Marisa Paolillo, a nutritionist with NuVal.
First and foremost, she says, don’t go when you’re hungry. “It really is true. If you shop hungry, you’re more likely to toss foods into your trolley that will satisfy the hunger pangs at the moment, rather than what you actually need for the week ahead,” she adds.
Another smart shopping tip is to plan, plan, plan. Paolillo suggests starting out right by planning a full week’s worth of menus, then creating a shopping list. This not only streamlines meal preparation, it saves household budget, aids nutrition choices and reduces the frustration and extra time associated with return trips to the store.
“Taking a list to the grocery store will ensure that you stick to your budget and only buy what you need,” says Paolillo.
To make sure your little scholars are getting the right nutrition from morning to dusk, consider these:
Even if breakfast finds you crunched for time, prime the kids with morning nutrients to energise their day. Give them a breakfast boost with make-ahead options that can be enjoyed on the go in cars and buses. Try portable Scrambled Egg Cups or Oatmeal Cups, which provide plenty of protein to get them through the day.
Unbeatable “Brown Bag” Tips
When it comes to packing school lunches, stick to what your kids like. If they aren’t crazy about something, it may end up in the rubbish bin or get traded for an unhealthy snack. These simple swaps will make your kids’ brown bag lunch unbeatable:
Smart Swaps for After School
Crisps and packaged cookies move out of the way. Swap them for smart after-school snacks that are homemade, nutritious and fun to make.
Custom-create a smoothie. Have kids choose their favourite fruit and vegetables and toss them into the blender with ice and fat-free yoghurt for a snack that’s easy, fun and filling.
Make banana sushi rolls. Top a whole grain tortilla with nut butter and a whole banana sprinkled with cinnamon. Roll it up and slice like sushi rolls. (These are also great for lunches).
Other after-school smart snacks include:
Find nutritious trade-ups and family friendly meals to kick off the new school year at
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