By: Kelly Atyeo, B.A.Sc., M.H.Sc., P.H.Ec.
Towards the end of summer is a great time to get your kids in the kitchen…teaching them about cooking and encouraging them to make good choices for their back to school meals!
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack – having your kids take part in meal prep can help them increase their food skills and make healthier food choices in the future.1-3
Also, by making your kitchen a classroom, kids can learn tons of practical applications of their studies, for example4:
Math: working with fractions and measuring ingredients4
Reading: following recipes and naming ingredients on labels4
Writing: Making grocery lists, weekly family meal plans4
Science: Watching how ingredients work together to make a final creation!4
Back to School Brekkies
Starting your day off with a healthy breakfast is important for both kids and adults. When kids eat breakfast, they have better concentration, classroom behaviour and overall performance in school.5 The same goes for adults at the workplace – you’ll be more productive after a healthy breakfast, and also more likely to eat better throughout the day.6
If your kids like wraps, they’ll love this breakfast burrito that takes less than 10 minutes to make and depending on how far school is can be easily transported en route:
Kid Approved Lunches
Your kids breakfast should be satisfying enough to carry them to lunch or at least a mid-morning snack. Ask them if how they feel at lunchtime. They may say that they feel hungry, but should not be “starving” with pain in their tummies. You can adjust meals and snacks based on their response.
Healthy lunches should contain a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats. The good thing about making it with them the night before is they’ll be more likely to eat something they helped prepare!
Try these quick and easy lunch ideas:
Chicken Pita Pizza
- Add some low sodium tomato sauce to a pita
- slice/dice some chicken and top onto a pita
- add some vegetables (peppers, mushrooms – whatever your child wants)
- top with some mozzarella cheese..or even marble!
- Put in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 400°F
Kid Approved Chicken Wraps!
Kids love wraps. You can modify this wrap recipe by adding vegetables and different seasonings depending on your child’s preference.
If your child has activities at the end of the day or gym class in the morning/afternoon, it’s a good idea to provide some extra healthy snacks to keep them energized. It’s important for kids to follow their internal cues of when they’re hungry and full – this will help prevent over and/or under-eating.7-8
Quick healthy snacks:
- vegetables and dip
- hummus and pita
- frozen grapes and cherries (very refreshing!)
- fruit smoothies
- dried raisins, apples and apricots
- fresh fruit (peaches, apples, pears, plums)
- apple sauce
- cheese and crackers
Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!
They’re home! Now it’s go time. The afterschool activities have either happened, or they’re about to happen. Either way, during the week you need healthy recipes that are easy to prepare with your kids and get on the plate.
These kid-approved chicken recipes can be made the night before a busy day. All that’s needed is final prep and cooking!
Chop up some leftover chicken breast and vegetables with your kids and put into separate containers. You’ll have them ready to assemble the fajitas in a flash!
Kids love playing with dough! Have them kneed and roll out the dough for these chicken and broccoli calzones. A nice side dish would be some veggies and dip or a garden tomato salad.
You can make and bake these the night before and serve the next day. Use small ramekins to have individual portions and add a nice salad on the side!
Little Kitchen Helper
No matter what meal – your kids will love being your little helper in the kitchen. Try to find tasks for them that aren’t too difficult or stressful on you, yet are still interesting for them!
Here are some ideas:
- Chopping: vegetables/fruit (with a knife that’s not super sharp)
- Assembling: pizzas, pitas, wraps, individual portions of food
- Stirring/Mixing: Ssauces, batters
- Combining: adding ingredients together, simple but still fun!
Have fun kidding around with chicken!