Did you know that children who eat balanced, nutrient-rich
meals are more likely to optimize academic performance, sustain alertness, and concentrate
during instruction?1 Eating breakfast, in particular, is associated
with increased academic performance.1 In general, school-aged
children (ages 6 to 12) should eat three meals and 1-2 snacks per day.2
Meal Preparation Tips
Meal Prep Ahead of Time
One of the best ways to reduce time
spent preparing meals each day is to prepare large portions ahead of time.
Separate the large portion into smaller portions for yourself and your family
to eat throughout the work and school week. This can be done with breakfast, lunch,
dinner, and snacks.
Include Your Children
If you have some extra time on your
hands, allow your children to assist you in planning and preparing meals. Not
only is the experience engaging, but children can also establish healthy eating
habits and develop an understanding of how their meals are made.3
Consider Dietary Needs
Consult your child’s registered
dietitian or health care provider for meal ideas for allergies and
intolerances. There are plenty of dairy-free, gluten-free, and plant-based
options available at grocery stores and the Commissary.
Create a Theme
Don’t be afraid to think outside the
box when planning your children’s meals. Try creating fun themes like taco
Tuesdays or shaping food into basic food art. Seasonal themes are also a great
way to incorporate healthy and festive meals.
Here are some easy, picky eater-friendly, and healthy lunch ideas for your children.
Cheese quesadillas with wheat tortillas
Rice, protein, and veggie bowl
Veggie and cheese mini bagel pizzas
Macaroni and cheese with butternut squash or broccoli added
Turkey burger with oven-baked zucchini "fries"
Hummus, turkey and veggie wraps
Protein, cheese, and veggie kabobs
Grilled cheese roll-ups with tomato soup
Wheat or zucchini noodle pasta salad
Classic chicken or tuna salad sandwich with wheat bread
Ground turkey and cheese meatballs in marinara sauce
Protein, veggie, and cheese mini taco bar
Classic chicken noddle soup
Apple and turkey pitas
Parmesan-crusted chicken strips with roasted veggies
Peanut butter and banana sandwich
1.Health and academic achievement. (2014) National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/health_and_academics/pdf/health-academic-achievement.pdf
2.Shield, J. (2019). When should my kids snack? Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved from https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/when-should-my-kids-snack
3.7 school lunch tips for picky eaters. (n.d.) Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/7-school-lunch-tips-for-picky-eaters