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Back to School | Family Meal Tricks & Tips

Interview with one of our Ways to Wellness dietitians Beth,
who is a working mom of 2 busy teenagers.
Q: Beth, how do you manage working and staying on top of getting healthy meals for your family now that the kids are back in school?
A: Well, both of my kids are very active with demanding school & sports schedules that include long days. I HAVE to have a plan, otherwise I end up running around trying to throw something together and feel overwhelmed. By starting with a plan for the week, our household runs smooth (most of the time).
Q: What do you mean by “planning”?
A:I start with a rough plan for what our family is going to eat for at least two dinners per week, healthy snacks stocked for each day, and staples for school lunches are purchased on the weekend for the week ahead. Anything that can be prepped ahead is also considered. Grill up extra chicken and store to add to salads during the week.
Q:What about breakfast?
A: It’s hard this year because the family leaves so early for work and school and my kids don’t always feel hungry in the morning before they leave. I like to plan an egg bake ahead of time to use for the first part of the week because my kids love eggs…except sometimes that doesn’t work when my growing son basically eats the whole thing in one sitting—haha! Sometimes just a quick sprouted piece of toast with nut butter hits the spot on the busy mornings.
Q: What are some of your FAST go-to’s for meals?
  • I chop all of the vegetables ahead of time, pick up a Rotisserie chicken, and toss it all into a soup with organic chicken stock and gnocchi. It’s a good thing to do when you have vegetables that need to get used up.
  • I try to have salad kits on hand, then add grilled chicken. There are so many varieties out there that you can use a variety so you don’t get tired of the same old salad!
  • I sneak zucchini in my lasagna, meatloaf, Italian meatballs…I shred it up ahead of time and throw it in before baking. The kids don’t even know…hopefully they aren’t reading this! We also cook up zucchini noodles and use in place of pasta. 
  • I use the crockpot a lot this time of year. I prep all of the ingredients the night before and place it in the fridge in the crockpot. In the morning, I plug it in on low so it’s cooking all day and ready for the hungry kiddos to walk through the door.
Q: Some of your FAST snacks?
  • Chopping up veggies ahead of time and have them waiting in the fridge with something to dip them in (See Chef Jeremy’s Buttermilk Ranch recipe)
  • If I slice up apples ahead of time, they’ll dip it in peanut butter, but if it’s a full apple sitting out, they won’t want to eat it
  • Having clean protein bars around all the time. Some of our family favorites are RxBars, GoMacro Bars, KIND Bars, Perfect Bars
  • My “famous” homemade Trail Mix: I mix it up each time and choose from the bulk section—dried fruit, walnuts, seeds,
  • Homemade protein balls: mix natural nut butter, oats, honey, hemp hearts, mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut, slivered almonds in a big bowl and form into balls. Add almond milk if it’s too dry. Place in the freezer.
Q: What’s your best piece of advice for other busy families?*
A: Some planning is better than none!! You don’t have to eat perfect 100% of the time! Start with some planning to help your family get the balanced meals they need to have good energy and thrive. Shoot for MORE plant based foods and try to get your kids involved, even if it’s just a conversation on which foods they need for energy! When they realize that their physical and mental performance improves with REAL foods and hydration they start to see the importance of healthy eating.
Want to meet with Beth about meal planning? Click HERE to schedule a 1:1 session.