Between Jonathan’s track meets, Lily’s dance classes and baby Rose’s swimming lessons, it may seem difficult to plan healthy meals and snacks. Here are five simple tips to streamline meal prep and have healthy choices ready during the back-to-school rush.
1. Take the effort out of weeknight meals by setting aside an hour or two on the weekend to chop vegetables and fruit, measure spices and mix marinades. When the ingredients are measured and the vegetables are already chopped, dinner can be ready in less than 30 minutes.
2. Find your Zen with slow-cooker meals. On the weekend, dump the raw ingredients for slow cooker recipe(s) into heavy-duty freezer bag(s), label and freeze until needed. These freezer meals will keep for at least 6 months. On cooking day, add the frozen ingredients to the slow cooker along with a little broth or water, and you will come home to a wholesome dinner.
3. Build one of these quick, balanced breakfasts packed with brain-boosting nutrients such as choline, omega-3 fatty acids, iron and zinc will help children concentrate and excel.
- A breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, black beans, spinach and a little ham and cheese inside a 6-inch whole wheat tortilla is an example of a delicious, portable breakfast that is packed with brain-boosting choline, iron and zinc.
- A yogurt bowl or parfait with layers of nuts, seeds, dried or fresh fruit and granola provides omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc. Try adding walnuts, ground flaxseed or chia seed, which are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Pack a smoothie for a light dinner before evening sports begin. To make a smoothie, choose frozen whole fruit for the base, then add milk or yogurt, baby spinach and healthy fat from peanut butter, almond butter or avocado. Blend until smooth and thin to desired consistency with milk or a non-dairy alternative. Tip: Freeze a big batch in ice cube trays for easy, anytime smoothies.
5. Try these nourishing no-cook mini meals that can be prepared days in advance. Missing out on lunch can lead to evening cravings and could even effect a child’s performance in evening sports. So have these balanced meals ready to go:
- Sandwich skewers are a hit even with picky eaters. Simply layer grapes, whole grain pitas wedges, lettuce, cooked chicken or deli meat, cherry tomatoes, cheese and cucumber slices onto wooden skewers. Serve with your child’s favorite dressing such as balsamic or ranch. These are a hit even with picky eaters.
- Portion hardboiled eggs, vegetables, ranch dressing, grapes, whole grain crackers and cheese or yogurt into single-serve plastic containers.
- Stow mini whole wheat pitas filled with chicken, sliced apples, spinach, cucumbers and cheese in sandwich baggies so they are ready to go.
- For a quick Tex-Mex-inspired meal, mix the following in a large bowl: black beans, cooked veggies, brown rice and salsa. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a sprinkle of low-fat cheese and extra salsa.
Hartford Healthcare Rehabilitation Network, a not-for profit member of Hartford HealthCare offers physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, sports medicine and health & wellness programs. With over 35 locations across the state, it is Connecticut’s top rehabilitation provider. Please call 860.696.2500 or click here for more information.