With many kids across the country continuing to learn remotely, overextended parents need to come up with daily meal ideas for their little ones. Fear not parents, the experts share advice, suggestions, and tips on what to feed kids while distance learning.
Like a School, Have a Schedule for At-Home Meals
Summer might have been a freefall for some, but the experts say sticking to a schedule -- while possibly hard at first -- will benefit you and your child.
“All schools run on schedules, and home school should be the same way,” Amy Myrdal Miller, a registered dietician nutritionist, told HuffPo. “Establish and enforce a schedule for classwork as well as meals and snacks from the first day of school. Print the schedule and, if necessary, set timers or alarms to keep your student on track.” Registered dietitian nutritionist Amanda Frankeny suggests planning for three meals and two to three snacks throughout the day.
* Get a reusable dry-erase schedule board to help your kids see what their day will look like what they can expect.
Break the Food Rules If Needed
The experts encourage parents to be flexible about what foods they give their kids during certain meals and reassure the parents of picky eaters it is perfectly fine to throw the rules out the window. Childhood feeding specialist Katja Rowell says, "Some [kids] prefer to eat leftover cold pizza or stir-fry instead of breakfast foods, and that’s OK... food is food. A slice of pizza with a banana and a glass of milk is a great breakfast.”
Find Your Fruit and Vegetable Opportunities - It Might Be during Lunch
Of course, encouraging kids to eat more fruits and vegetables is always important and oftentimes a challenge, and registered dietician Barbara Ruhs says lunch is a good time to go veggie. “I’m always thinking how to get veggies in meals, and that’s easy to do at lunch,” she shared. “Sandwiches are a great way to offer a vegetarian option. Use hummus spread or nut butters, then top with fruit or veggies. Frozen burritos -- bean or veggie -- can be jazzed up with fresh salsa and guacamole. Or serve fruit salad as dessert, with your choice of apples, grapes, blueberries, avocado, mango, or jicama.”
Making Snacking Healthy, Filing and Accessible
With the family kitchen just steps away, it might be tempting for kids to go the cupboard or snack drawer and pick out whatever they want, but the experts encourage parents to put limits on snack foods and suggest serving as many fruits, vegetables, and whole foods as possible. They also suggest having a bowl of fruit your kids can reach, and to have pre-portioned filled snack bags readily available that are filled with items like wasabi peanuts, pretzels, and dried fruit; corn nuts and dried fruit; and pretzels and yogurt-covered raisins.
Hydrate, Hyrdrate, Hydrate!
Of course, do not forget to encourage the drinking of water during the day. “Once they’re thirsty, kids already are well on their way to being dehydrated,” Registered dietitian nutritionist Amanda Frankeny told HuffPo. “Water is always the best choice. Every 20 minutes, you should offer small kids 4 ounces and big kids 6 to 8 ounces.” She notes that kids under 4 need 5 to 6 cups of water daily, 4 to 8-year-olds need 7 cups a day, and older kids need anywhere from 9 to 12 cups.
* Make drinking water fun with a new water bottle for the new school year, one of our favorite brands comes in so many fun options like unicorns, dinosaurs, rainbows, sharks, aliens and so many more!
Have a Rotating Dinner Plan
The experts say parents can make their nights (and shopping trips) easier by having a rotating list of meals to pull from. “Repetition is fine,” Frankeny explained. “Parents can stick with 10 staple meals and rotate through them. That kind of routine helps standardize your shopping list and still leaves some wiggle room for when you’re feeling creative.”
Additional helpful tips from the experts: prep and plan ahead (this can include having your kids and entire family help with meal prep and they can also help make the meal decisions ahead of time) and remember meals are about spending quality time and not about creating "perfect" and elaborate meals.
Learn about kid-friendly meals -- seen on The Doctors -- that you can make with your family, in the video below.
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