How To Make Healthy School Lunches

September 11, 2014 in Parenting

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healthy-school-lunch1It really can’t be said enough times – what your child eats at school directly affects his or her level of energy and the ability to learn. Getting together healthy lunch day after day can be quite a task and even though my children are way past the school years, I do remember dealing with this issue and learning as I went along. And if your child is an active participant in sports, you have even more to consider. I am going to keep adding to the school lunch topic on this website – hopefully it will give you the assistance you need and it will make your daily tasks easier!

Think Salads!

Maybe you are one of the lucky parents whose children attend a school with cafeteria that serves fresh salads daily. In that case your job is to encourage your child to try it. It may be as good idea to start packing salads regularly. And in that case, you will need to make sure that the salad includes foods your child likes. That means suggesting items that can make a salad and listening to your child’s ideas as well. Try things like cheese, cucumbers or even bacon bits – you may be surprised at what kids can come up with!

Make Clean Sandwiches

Here is what the word “clean” means: start with whole grain bread, use natural nut butter with strawberries instead of the traditional peanut butter and jelly (if you school allows peanut butter sandwiches at all – you will need to check for that as many schools now ask for parents not to send anything with nuts for their children’s lunches) Another clean lunch you can try is making wraps with chicken strips and greens and add yogurt for an after lunch snack. AS you start thinking “clean” the ideas will just keep coming!

Get Rid of the Juice

Yes – juices are definitely better than sodas, but lot of them are still very high in sugar and calories. Try skipping the juice boxes and replace them with water. If there is a problem with that, try filling a bottle with one part juice and two parts water.

Get Smart with Snacks

No chips please – you can give your child healthier snacks! Try servings of crunchy whole-grain cereals or granola with dried fruit. And if chips are demanded, make your own. It is not difficult – just get some corn or flour tortillas, bake them and season them yourself. And if chips are an absolute must, at least get the low-fat ones!

Fake a Cool Lunch

Let’s think that your child sees another eating pizza for lunch and now wants that as well. Yes, you can create a pizza for lunch – get a whole-grain bagel, spread some vegetable marina sauce on sprinkle with low-fat cheese. And think about adding a low-fat brownie as a treat – that will make the pizza eating child watch in envy!

Think Leftovers

So you go to the trouble of making healthy dinners each day – why not make a little extra and use it for next day’s lunch? For example: if you had chicken, brown rice and asparagus for dinner, pack it into a wrap – your child will love it!

Satisfy the Sweet Tooth

All kids have it so you need to address it. Instead of cookies that can be full of sugar (unless you made them yourself and know what’s in them), think about filling a little container with strawberries. You can even sprinkle a little sugar on them for the extra sweet treat. And since I mentioned making your own – there are thousands of recipes for homemade fruit squares or little muffins you can make in no time!

For more help with your children’s school lunches, check out:

Guide to Healthy School Lunches

Hope this information was helpful to you – please send in your comments, suggestions and experiences, your input is always welcomed and very much appreciated!

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Back To School Tips for Parents

August 14, 2014 in Parenting

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It’s the time of the year to start thinking about school days again. Here are a few tips for parents to make those first days of school easier – especially for the little ones, who are just starting their educational journey!

First day of school can be quite stressful – for the child and for parents. Especially if we are talking about a younger child changing schools. Here are a few simple tips that are easy to follow and will for sure help to avoid uncomfortable and stressful situations:

  1. If the school is new to your child, make arrangements to take a tour before the school starts
  2. Meet the child’s teacher – if you can’t do it in person, schedule at least a telephone conversation
  3. If your child has any medical conditions – and that includes allergies, finalize them with the school nurse
  4. The night before first day of school pack your child’s backpack with his help – then there are no questions locating important items
  5. Put your child to bed early the day before school – if he or she has a tendency to be anxious and stress, fatigue will aggravate the situation
  6. On the first day of school make sure your child wakes up early enough to allow plenty of time to get ready and have a good breakfast
  7. Pack a nutritious lunch and sneak in a little love note – especially for the younger child
  8. You may want to consider driving your child to school for the first day – even if plan is to use alternative transportation later
  9. Walk into the classroom with the younger child, gtreet the teacher and introduce your child and yourself
  10. Remind your child what time you will be back to pick him or her up
  11. If there are other parents present, introduce yourself to them
  12. And whatever you do – do not be late!
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Great Tips to Make Healthy School Lunches

September 9, 2013 in Parenting

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Healthy lunch boxFirst thing you have to remember is that what your child eats at school is the major source of essential vitamins and minerals needed for developments over the years. The food you pack will give your child the energy and nutrients needed to effectively learn and plan at school. Without sufficient energy, your child may become tired too quickly and find it difficult to concentrate. And just like in an adult situation – if you get hungry you may reach for an unhealthy junk food and so can your child.

In getting ready to plan your child’s school lunch, think about food groups and aim to have at least three or four food groups included. It doesn’t have to be a sandwich – you can get more creative than that! You can use pita, flatbreads, tortilla or even cereal instead of plain bread – it will make the lunch more interesting.

Here are 10 sample lunch combination ideas:

  1. Hard boiled egg, red pepper strips, tortilla or flat bread, fruit yogurt
  2. Tuna or salmon salad, snow peas and carrot strips, yogurt dip for the veggies, cereal snack
  3. Ham on English muffin, baby corn, milk
  4. Cheese cubes, bran or oatmeal muffin, cherry tomatoes, humus dip
  5. Rice cakes, melon balls, pudding
  6. Cottage cheese cup, whole grain crackers, fruit smoothie, sunflower seeds
  7. Cheese filled pasta, zucchini sticks, cauliflower pieces, yogurt dip,fruit
  8. Marinated tofu, sliced mango, bread sticks, chocolate milk
  9. Marinated cooked tofu in a tortilla wrap with shredded lettuce and grated carrot, fruit yogurt

10.  Hot cereal (in thermos) with berries, milk or soy beverage, fruit

Planning snacks:

Think of snacks as mini meals – here are a few ideas:

  • Wholegrain crackers with a cheese stick
  • Fresh fruit with yogurt dip
  • Yogurt and small oatmeal muffin
  • Homemade trail mix: dried cranberries, raisins, dried apricots, apple rings, sunflower seeds, favourite cereal. You can mix a lot of this ahead of time and store in air-tight container

Get Your Child Involved:

From planning to packing, it is a good idea to get not only your child, but also your family members get involved. If you do that, your child will more likely eat everything that is in the lunch bag – simply because they feel they chose it.

You can have older children help making sandwiches, pita wraps and vegetables and have the younger child do the packing.

Take your child grocery shopping and let him or her choose some of the foods – like vegetables, breads, fruits, yogurts, keeping an watchful eye on them making healthy choices.

Hope this information was helpful to you, please send in your comments, suggestions and experiences, your input is always welcomed and very much appreciated

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Teaching Your Child to Eat in a School Cafeteria

September 10, 2012 in Parenting

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This just may be the first time your child will decide what he or she will eat. And yes – school cafeterias have improved over the years, but there are still some options available to your child, which are less than healthy. Consider the potential access to vending machine or the fact that the child can actually decide to eat a hot dog day after day – unless you do some preliminary work and some serious training.

  • You can continuously steer your child toward healthy choice – and if you start at a younger age, the results will be that much more positive. Explaining that nutritious lunch is the fuel they need to have a good school day and have fun with after school activities is a start.
  • You can look over the school cafeteria menu together, pointing out items that are healthier than other while letting your child to choose their favourite item occasionally – even if it is a hot dog.
  • Check out on availability of things like chips, sodas and ice cream – if they are readily available, you will need to discuss this with your child to make sure these items are not a daily habit.
  • Do your best to continuously encourage cafeteria meals that include fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and avoiding fried foods when possible.
  • Also – as far as drinks go, encourage low-fat milk and water, definitely not sodas or juices which are full of sugar.
  • It will help to add healthy snacks that you children can take to school with them. Having them be a part of choosing and making snacks, that way you will be sure it will be eaten.
  • Work on encouraging packed lunch – at least sometimes. Your child can participate in choosing foods for it and help to pack it as well – make it theirs.

Here are some changes you can make when planning and preparing packed lunches:

  • Instead of higher fat lunch meats, consider lower fat meats – like turkey
  • Replace white bread with whole grain bread
  • Eliminate  fried chips with baked chips, popcorn, trail mix or veggies with dip
  • Forget about fruit cups with sugar syrup – replace them with fresh fruit or fruit in natural juices
  • Don’t include snack cakes – replace them with trail mix, yogurt or homemade baked goods

About Pre-packaged Lunches – They are very convenient and quite popular with kids and with parents. But they are also expensive and often less than nutritious. You will really be much better off creating packable lunches using plastic containers, re-sealable plastic bags or colourful plastic wrap.

When packing lunches, please check with your school to make sure that you are aware of any restrictions on what kids can bring with them. Most school now forbid items like peanut butter, so if you are planning to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches…. don’t!

The bottom line is that you need to be in the driving seat when it comes to what your child eats – whether it is in the school cafeteria or with packed lunches from home – and you most definitely can be, because in a long run, it is for the health of your child.

For more helpful tips for making healthy school lunches, check out:

Healthy School Lunch Strategies

Hope you have enjoyed this information – please send in your comments, suggestions and experiences, your input is always welcomed and much appreciated!

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Guide to Easy School Lunches

September 4, 2012 in Parenting

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Believe it or not, making healthy school lunches does not have be difficult. If you start with your shopping list and stack your kitchen cupboards, your fridge and pantry with the right items, it will be much easier to prepare every day healthy lunches for your children.

Here is a simple guide of suggestions what to have on hand:

For Your Pantry:

  • Whole grain breads
  • Ready to eat cereals
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Canned and dried fruits
  • Canned tuna or salmon
  • Canned legumes – i.e. chick peas, black beans, baked beans in tomato sauce
  • Seeds and nuts or pre-mixed trail mix

For Your Fridge:

  • Yogurt, yogurt drinks, plain yogurt for dips
  • Cheese – block or cheese strings, cottage cheese cups, cream cheese
  • Milk (small cartons)
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables

For Your Freezer:

  • Whole grain pita and tortillas (they will defrost quickly in your microwave)
  • Frozen fruits for smoothies
  • Leftovers like chilli, lasagna and soups in single servings containers
  • Juice boxes (they will keep the food cool and defrost by the time your child is ready to drink them)

For Your Cupboard:

  • Reusable containers and cutlery
  • Small plastic bags
  • Thermos
  • Cloth or paper napkins
  • Lunch boxes or bags

And remember – setting aside short period of time in the evening to pack lunches and snacks avoids early morning rush!

For creative school lunch tips and suggested menus, check out:

How to Make Healthy School Lunches

Hope you found this information helpful, please send in your comments, suggestions and experiences, your input is always welcomed and much appreciated

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Simple Tips for Back to School Time

August 18, 2010 in Featured Articles

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I keep watching that commercial on TV where back to school time is positioned as the most wonderful time of the year. It is creative and funny – I am just not sure who is really laughing, other than potentially the retailers. But – it can be the most wonderful time, kids are usually (I think) excited about going back to school.  Parents? Not so much….Probably all seing their bank balances shrinking, credit card balances going up and nerves being strung quite tight. Consider what is important here and communicate it to your children. Easier said than done? Here are a few tips that I hope will be of assistance in your back to school survival:

Involve Your Kids:

If you do that, there will be less of a chance that they will put up a fight for things that you have not put into your budget. Another thing that will be eliminated is you potentially purchasing items they will refuse to wear or use.

Make an Inventory:

Check out all your closets and search through your house for last year’s leftovers. You may have stashed some items and forgotten about them as well – don’t we all do that sometimes?

Make a List:

Decide on what needs to be purchased immediately. That means talking to your kids about what is really needed right now and what can be purchased later – potentially when sales pop up for the after back to school rush. Explain to them that they will be able to get better and more of what they are asking for if they are just a little more patient.

Set Your Budget:

Know what you can afford, making sure that you are not paying off your credit card bills until Christmas (only so that you can start loading up charges all over again) Again – involve your kids in this process, because their understanding of what is and what isn’t in the budget will help you when shopping with them.

Shop Around:

You will want to keep an eye on flyers – especially when it comes to school supplies. While bulk stores may have better overall prices, some items can actually be much cheaper when you look at office supply stores loss leaders – they are aimed at getting shoppers into the store so you could realize some serious savings.

Check Out Clearance Racks:

Seasons come and go and if you are planning ahead, you can take the opportunity to save a lot of money. Summer T-shirts for example – they will for sure be on sale and all you have to do is to consider that they can be layered with other clothing to create new look each time.

Remember that most children have not outgrown all of their clothing and used or lost all their schools supplies since last school year so don’t start shopping as if they did!

Hope these simple tips will help you deal with that wonderful time of the year – please send in your comments, suggestions and experiences, your input is always welcomed and very much appreciated

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