Back-to-school shopping is a pivotal time. The very mention of it connotes visions of chaotic trips to Target where, among other things, you’re focused on fall clothing trends for tweens and a quest for the best wide-ruled notebook sale. But don’t lose sight of what is arguably the most crucial of school “supplies:” food. The quality of breakfasts and lunches that you send Junior off with can mean the difference between A’s and summer school. (Okay, maybe not that drastic.) In the spirit of aiming for A’s though, we’ve prepared healthy-yet-tasty menus for the impending school year that are worthy of trading out the PB&J for. Eat up!
Bagels are great, don’t get us wrong, but they’re also dense. Lighten up the morning by spreading cream cheese over multi-grain flatbread crackers. Top them with berries or thinly sliced mango, even a bit of smoked salmon if the kids will eat it. The best part about this option is that it’s easy for mornings where you need to take breakfast on the go.
The New Oatmeal:
Mix up this traditional dish (and make it more flavorful) by pairing quinoa with steel-cut oats, adding a bit of cinnamon, pure maple syrup or honey, and throwing in a handful of dried cranberries or cut-up apple.
The all-fruit smoothie is delicious, but it also comes with really high sugar levels. To help offset this, switch out some of the fruit for cucumbers (good flavor, mostly water) or replace fruit juice with coconut water. For added nutrients and thickness, throw in uncooked rolled oats or flaxseed; kids will never know it’s there and breakfast will stick better to little ones’ ribs.
Corn and Zucchini Cakes:
Stretch the fun of breakfast over to lunch by making these midday fritters. Using a batch of whole wheat pancake batter, stir in 1 cup of frozen corn, 1 small grated zucchini, a handful of Parmesan and 1 sliced scallion. If you need to add more liquid, do so, and cook each side in a pan for 2-3 minutes. After they cool, pack a few (depending on how large you make them) with a side of Greek yogurt for dipping. Easy for kids to eat, these are also full of things they need. Pair with ½ cup of pineapple and a few cherry tomatoes on the side.
The Better Burrito:
There’s just enough sweetness in these lunch wraps to make them a success while secretly being healthy, too. On a whole wheat tortilla, generously spread a nut butter of your choosing. Sprinkle crumpled bacon bits on top (you can either cook these at home or buy pre-made) along with a sliced banana. Finish by drizzling 1 tablespoon of honey, rolling and cutting in half. Send with carrot sticks and ½ cup unsalted popcorn for snacking.
Hardboiled eggs are fast to make (15 minutes in boiling water) and one of the more kid-approved versions of this protein-packed food. Slice one, and pair with whole-grain crackers, orange and red bell pepper strips and ½ cup of berries. Animal crackers (10ish) or a slice of banana bread make for just enough dessert. Need a faster morning? Boil the egg(s) the night before so that everything is ready to go.