It’s that time of year again, parents. The time when we tell ourselves ‘this school year will be different’–we’ll make every lunch from scratch and write notes for the kids to open at snack time. Heck, we might even start baking our own granola bars. Yeah, that sounds great right now, but by the second week of September, you might be wishing you’d picked up a package or two of Nature Valley.
Don’t worry, you’re not ruining your kids by giving them food you bought from the grocery store. Even prepackaged things aren’t going to kill them (gasp!). There are some things that are better than others though. If you’re not sure about what the healthiest options are at the supermarket, here’s a list of dietitian-approved foods for you to start with.
Mini Pitas/arrowroot cookies
For little bodies that need energy all the time like preschoolers or kindergartners, you need to fill up those bellies with energy-rich foods. Mini pitas and arrowroot cookies are energy-dense, high in iron and low in sugar. Summer’s over, kids. Time for those sugar levels to go back to normal.
Green peas are high in vitamins A and C and are a great source of protein for the little ones. You can get them fresh or buy packages of frozen ones. They warm up well or kids love eating them frozen as a treat.
Snap peas are great because they’re a fun and tasty way to get their veggies in. Biting into a snap pea is like eating a chip and their sweet taste will make them irresistible to your little ones. And that’s totally okay because they’re so good for them.
Roasted chickpeas are something you can make yourself–if you’re so inclined–or buy from the grocery store roasted and seasoned already. These babies are full of copper and manganese, two nutrients that not all kids are getting enough of. Plus, they’re crunchy which is usually a guarantee kids will love them.
This may seem weird, but hear us out on this one. Seaweed is a good source of iodine which is important to brain development. If you can get your kids past the mental block of eating the slimy stuff that grows at the bottom of the ocean, roasted seaweed is crispy, fun and almost like eating chips.
Almonds and sesame seeds are a great source of calcium which is particularly important to the bone development of teen girls. Remember when you’re buying granola bars, not all types are created equal though. Some granola bars can be worse for you than chocolate bars. Look for ones with less chocolate and caramel and more nuts and dried fruit. Another thing to look for is natural ingredients and avoid bars made with high fructose corn syrup if you can. KIND bars and Kashi bars are usually your best bet if you’re looking for natural ingredients in the grocery store.
Triscuits are one of the best types of cracker out there. Packed with fiber and 100 percent whole grain, these are tasty and healthy. Plus, these aren’t your mother’s Triscuits anymore. They come in so many flavours now, you could go through the entire school year without buying the same kind twice.
And what pairs better with crackers than some hummus? We’ve already talked about the benefits of chickpeas and this is just another way to work them into your kid’s diet. You can also send it as a veggie dip for kids who are picky about eating their vegetables.
We know your schedule is busy, so be kind to yourself and prep for the school year realistically. Sure, you might make those homemade granola bars, but grab a box of Kashi bars and a bag of snap peas too, just in case.