Better Bets for Back to School

absolutely! DELICIOUS –

Food choices the whole family can feel good about

As you gear up for a new school year, it’s important to put your kids’ nutrition on the school checklist. Countless studies link school performance and healthy eating habits. Treat this season of academic beginnings as a chance for the whole family to take a fresh approach to better-for-you eating.

200-foodFrom on-the-go breakfasts and brag-worthy brown bag lunches to after-school snacks and family-friendly dinners, there are plenty of ways to pack nutrition aand flavor into every meal. Selecting menu options that help your family eat better begins at the grocery store with your shopping decisions. If food labels make your head spin, rely on tools such as the NuVal® Nutritional Scoring System, which provides scores near the price on the shelf tag to identify better-for-you foods. Based on a scale of 1 to 100, the scores rank foods and beverages on their nutritional content, with the most nutritious choices scoring highest.

Marisa Paolillo, a nutritionist with NuVal, suggests taking other steps to make shopping easier for healthy eating. First and foremost, don’t go when you’re hungry. “If you shop hungry, you’re more likely to toss foods into your cart that will satisfy the hunger pangs at the moment, rather than what you actually need for the week ahead,” Paolillo said.

Another smart shopping tip is to plan, plan, plan. Paolillo suggests starting out right by planning a full week’s worth of menus, then creating a shopping list. This not only streamlines meal preparation, it saves household budget, aids nutrition choices and reduces the frustration and extra time associated with return trips to the store.

1. Determine what you will serve for breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners.

2. Create a grocery list of food ingredients that are needed.

3.Check specials and coupons in your store’s weekly circular. Consider swapping listed ingredients for seasonal or on-sale foods.

“Taking a list to the grocery store will ensure that you stick to your budget and only buy what you need,” said Paolillo. If you’re pressed for time, keep these food basics in mind.

• Breakfast: Scrambled eggs are a quick and easy breakfast, but hardboiled eggs are a great option for an on-the-go snack.

• Mid-Day Snack: Get a quick protein and calcium boost during the day with cottage cheese or plain yogurt with fruit or granola.

• Lunch and Dinner: Make sure to include vegetables in all meals.

• On-the-Go Snack:Fruit like apples, bananas, tangerines and pears are perfectly portable for on-the-go ease.

• Dinner:Round out your day with lean protein at dinner, such as poultry or fish seasoned with herbs.

Paolillo offers some final healthy eating, back-to-school shopping tips. Take advantage of in-store nutritional scoring systems or services to help guide food choices, and make the majority of food selections from the outer perimeter of the store. “Think produce, dairy, fish and meat,” Paolillo said. “This will ensure that most of your food choices are more nutrient-packed and fresh, versus heavily processed foods that tend to be loaded with additional sugar, salt and fat.”

Find nutritious, family-friendly meals to kick off the new school year at

Bring Breakfast to Go

Even if breakfast finds you crunched for time, prime the kids with morning nutrients to energize their day. Give them a breakfast boost with make-ahead options that can be enjoyed on-the-go in cars and buses. Try portable Scrambled Egg Cups or Oatmeal Cups, which provide plenty of protein to get them through the day.

Smart Swaps for After School

• Chips and packaged cookies, move out of the way.

Swap them for smart after-school snacks that are homemade, nutritious and fun to make.

• Custom create a smoothie.Have kids choose their favorite fruit and vegetables. Toss them into the blender with ice and fat free yogurt for a snack that’s easy, fun and filling.

• Make banana sushi rolls. Top a whole grain tortilla with nut butter and a whole banana sprinkled with cinnamon. Roll it up and slice like sushi rolls. These are great for lunches, too.



Tips for an Unbeatable “Brown Bag” 

When it comes to packing school lunches, stick to what your kids like. If they aren’t crazy about something, it may end up in the garbage or get traded for an unhealthy snack. These simple swaps will make your kids’ brown bag lunch unbeatable.

1.For sandwiches, swap white bread for a higher NuVal-scoring brown bread, pita or whole wheat tortilla.

2.Replace deli meats with lean meats, such as roast beef or poultry, or low-fat cheese, which is high in protein and calcium.

3.For a delicious, nutritious sandwich spread, trade mayonnaise for a mashed avocado. Make fruits and vegetables a go-to snack. Chop up

carrots, peppers and celery in advance and stash some in lunch bags with hummus, or sprinkle apple and pear slices with lemon and cinnamon to satisfy a sweet tooth.

4.Choose water to hydrate and calcium and vitamin D rich milk to strengthen growing bones.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images. Source: Family Features