Going back to school means buckling down and making sure your kids are getting a nutritious meal in them before they’re out the door in the morning. It might come after a summer of lazy days of sleeping in followed by bowls of cold cereal or Pop Tarts, so it can be an adjustment for both kids and parents.
Katie Sannito, a personal chef who runs her business, the Gourmet Goddess out of Munster, said the key in providing healthy on-the-go breakfasts is to plan ahead.
“Use your weekends or whenever your free time exists to prepare good healthy options and then freeze them,” she said. “Don’t rely on processed convenience foods for your most important meal of the day.”
— For something hot and healthy in the morning, eggs can be prepared ahead and then frozen or refrigerated and quickly warmed up.
“Make mini omelettes or frittata in muffin tins. Fill with veggies or other favorite breakfast fillings and a little cheese. Bake until set and remove from the tin. Let cool and then freeze in freezer bags,” Sannito said. “Grab one in the morning and reheat in the microwave or toaster oven.”
— Another hot breakfast that can be made ahead are pancakes, which can be made from scratch with flax seed or protein powder for added nutrients.
“Make a big batch, let the extras cool and then lay them on a sheet pan and put in the freezer. Once individually frozen, place them in a freezer bag,” said Sannito. “Pop one into the toaster while kids are getting their backpacks and it’ll be ready by the time you walk out the door.”
Balancing the meal appropriately also is important. Ingalls Wellness Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator Kim Kramer said she recommends covering three different food groups for breakfast without a repeat.
“If someone had grits and toast, that would be the same food group, so I would recommend avoiding that,” she said.
A few combinations she suggested for a light, healthy breakfast would be: Oatmeal or high-fiber cereal with berries and slivered almonds; whole grain English muffin with peanut butter and a piece of fruit; or whole wheat toast with a hard-boiled egg and fruit. “Many people forget to eat fruit in the morning,” Kramer said. “It is an easy and healthy way to start the day, so I really try to encourage it.”
— Oatmeal is wholesome on it’s own, but you can up the healthy quotient by adding berries, nuts or seeds as a topping. “A huge vat of crockpot oatmeal can be made overnight and eaten for the whole week,” Kramer said.
— Smoothies are something that can be both healthy and fun for kids to prepare themselves.
Sannito reminds parents that smoothies are also a good mostly make-ahead option. Kids can select their ingredients and cut them up the night before and put them in the blender jar to place in the refrigerator. In the morning, kids can just add their liquid and blend.
“Smoothies are fun and yummy for kids and they can be eaten on the go if they are on their way to school,” Kramer said. “Also something like a banana split parfait would be fun with banana on each side, yogurt on top with some granola.”