We’re not going to sugarcoat it: Back-to-school time can get pretty hectic. With all the school supplies you need to buy, after-school pick-ups you need to organize, and lunches you need to pack, things can get a bit overwhelming.
With an ever growing to-do list, it’s tempting to reach for the colorfully packaged calorie-, preservative-, and sugar-packed eats when throwing together your kid’s lunches, especially if you’re short on time and dealing with a fussy eater. (PS: Here are some tricks to get your picky toddler to eat.) While those fruity snacks or cheesy crackers are convenient, they’re not the healthiest choice for your little one.
You want your kid to be feeling and doing her best at school, and that all starts with the right nutrition. Making sure your kid is eating right has a host of health benefits, including stabilized energy, improved school performance, balanced mood, and a healthy weight—not to mention fuel for their developing body and brain.
Ditch the prepackaged snacks, and opt for these healthier kid-approved eats instead.
1. Fruit kebabs. These are not only fun to eat, but they’re fun to assemble—for both you and your youngster. Slice up some melons, pineapples, strawberries, and bananas, and thread them onto a skinny straw (a safer choice than wooden sticks if your child is bringing them to school).
2. Apple and nut butter sandwiches. These are cute as a button and full of healthy fats and filling fiber and protein. Slice up apples from side to side so they look like circles, smear some almond butter on one, and top with another apple circle.
Ran out of nut butter? Make these nutritionist-approved apple chips instead.
3. DIY trail mix. Store-bought trail mixes often have a lot of sugar, especially if candies snuck their way in there. Why not make your own? Mix together a healthy whole-grain cereal, a bag of your favorite nuts (watch the sodium), and no-sugar-added dried fruit and voila! DIY trail mix.
4. Veggies in a blanket. Your kid will get a serving of vegetables and filling protein with this snack. Take a celery or carrot slice, wrap it in a slice of turkey, and repeat.
5. Cookie cutter cheese and whole-grain bread. Find your favorite cookie cutter and cut slices of cheese and whole-grain bread into fun shapes. You can even make them into little sandwiches! (Pro tip: Use the leftover bread to make homemade croutons for a panzanella salad.)
Now that you’ve mastered back-to-school snacks, it’s time to conquer breakfast. Here’s what a nutritionist gives her kids for breakfast on crazy-busy week days—and how you can do it, too.