Good nutrition is especially important for children because bone, muscle, tooth, and brain development takes place during their formative years. Commercials for numerous sugary snacks and nutritionally devoid foods catch the eyes of children when the packaging depicts colorful scenes, including their favorite cartoon show’s characters. Parents struggling with work, daycare, and school schedules often give in to their child’s request and grab the conveniently packaged foods that require little or no preparation before eating. It’s easy to get into this habit, especially when parents are trying to juggle work obligations, remote and hybrid learning, and having snacks ready for recess time and a meal for the school’s designated lunch break. What can you do to be sure your child is getting healthy and nutritionally sound snacks and meals? Check out the following tips to make your job easier.

Healthy Lunches

Children need a lunch that provides nutrition to get through the rest of the school day with plenty of energy for their classes. Parents should include milk or another unsweetened beverage.

•   Kids will enjoy a chicken salad wrap, Greek yogurt with fruit, and an apple for dessert.
•   Score big with a tortilla topped with pizza sauce, shredded cheese, and favorite pizza toppings. Add a fruit for dessert.
•   Serve a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread with sugar free jelly, mandarin oranges, and celery sticks. Dessert is a chocolate chip cookie.
•   Macaroni and cheese along with a garden salad and dressing is a favorite with kids. Some taco chips for “dessert” add some fun crunch to the meal.
•   Spaghetti and meatballs can be served with sliced tomatoes and black olives. Pudding with a few berries on top is the perfect dessert.

Healthy Snacks

For energy boosting snacks during class breaks, the following suggestions are healthy, delicious, and appeal to children.

•   Fresh fruit cups can include a combination of favorites such as grapes, berries, apple, pear, and peach slices, citrus fruit sections, and bananas. They can also be a simple mix of berries topped with a little granola.
•   Vegetable and dip snacks could include carrots, broccoli, celery, cucumbers, pea pods, and other finger-size pieces of fresh veggies.
•   Hummus quesadillas are easy and quick to make. Spread a tortilla with hummus and top with chopped black olives, diced tomatoes, and sunflower seeds. Place a second tortilla on top and slice into quarters.
•   Celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter and topped with pumpkin or sunflower seeds are delicious and healthy.
•   Slice a banana lengthwise, spread one half with peanut butter, top with raisins and a few chocolate chips, and place remaining banana slice on top. Cut the banana into rounds.

Use these ideas to create fun lunch and snack ideas for your children. Create your own healthy meal and snack menu with input from your kids. Whether they are attending classes in person, learning remotely, in face-to-face learning, or as part of a hybrid program this school year, good nutrition will help them achieve their goals.

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