Back-to-School Meals Made Easy

By Ann Dunaway Teh, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD

It’s that anticipatory time of year when kids are back to school! With it come a variety of emotions and the desire to get the school year off on the right foot. One way to do that is to ensure our children are eating well to stay nourished and energized during the day.

To keep our energy levels up, each meal and snack should contain a good proportion of carbohydrates (the more whole grain or fruit/veggie based, the better), protein and good fats. Peanut butter is a natural fit as it provides more protein per ounce than any other nut as well as a great dose of mostly unsaturated fats – the good kind. Not to mention, it is shelf stable so packing it for lunch or a snack makes it more portable than most options.

Speaking of snacks, if your child is an athlete or goes straight to after school activities, a healthy snack will keep him or her fueled and focused on the task at hand. Lunch is often early at school and by the time school lets out, there isn’t much fuel in the tank for an afternoon practice or workout.

Below are some fun meal and snack ideas that not only are tasty but kick up the nutrition as well:

Breakfast - pump up the protein for a more filling meal
  • Peanut butter and jelly waffle sandwich – spread peanut butter on one toasted waffle and then jelly or honey on another. Put together to make a sandwich – perfect for on the go eating.
  • Peanut butter overnight oats – the night before mix together in a bowl equal parts oats, plain yogurt and milk. Stir in a dash of cinnamon and raisins. Put in the refrigerator overnight and stir in a scoop of peanut butter before eating. If preferred, heat in the microwave for a few seconds. Peanut powder could be added for more peanut flavor and a nutritional boost.
Lunch – think outside the sandwich box
  • Strawberry peanut butter “sushi” – spread peanut butter on a whole grain tortilla then top with sliced strawberries. Roll up the tortilla and then slice into 6 to 8 “sushi” bites.
  • Peanutty edamame udon noodles – this easy noodle dish is great hot or cold and easy to make for dinner one night and use the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Snack – keep it simple and go with classic combinations for staying power
  • Apple slices and peanut butter
  • Ants on a log – spread peanut butter on celery sticks and dot with raisins.
  • No Bake Peanut Butter Graham Chocolate Bites – these are so easy to do that older children can do it themselves.

Have a wonderful school year!

Ann Dunaway Teh is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified specialist in sports dietetics. She is co-founder of My Menu Pal, a menu planning website for busy families, and President of Dunaway Dietetics, a nutrition consulting business. Ann loves to cook meals for her family and share her passion for eating well with others.

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