Planning Healthy Meals for School Reopening

Back to School May be Uncertain, but Food Can Support Normalcy, Learning, and Health

As we approach back to school time, this year looks a lot different. Some school reopening plans include full-time in-person classes, while others will offer virtual classrooms. Still other children will experience a hybrid of the two.

Whatever back to school plan your child will participate in, healthful meals and snacks should be a part of their day for three reasons:

  1. Structure
  2. Learning
  3. Health

Food can play an important role in achieving structure, learning, and health. It’s already a necessary part of our lives, so using food to help your kids succeed is easy. We provide tips and simple recipes for breakfast, lunch, and snack time and recommend which ones are best for on-the-go versus home schooling.

Snacks and meals play an important role in providing structure for children.

Food and Structure

During uncertainty, schedules and routines can help children and adults feel more “normal.”

 “Children and teens do their best if there are plans for each day, especially the weekdays when they would have been in school,” says Richard Gallagher, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone.

Three meals and 2-3 snacks a day can create structure. Just as children who go to school have breakfast and lunch at the same time each weekday, children who are home can do the same.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends scheduling time for nutritious breakfasts, lunches and snacks. See our list below for recipe ideas whether your child will be eating at school or at home.

Tip: Many schools are providing take-home meal packages for students who need them. Find one near you:

Food and Learning

Food not only provides a routine for kids, it can also offer learning opportunities. Parents can use food to teach children different subjects at home. For instance:

Tip: The California Strawberry Commission also offers downloadable strawberry worksheets for children in grades K-5.

Food and Health

Finally, food of course, provides the nutrition kids need to grow, think, and function.

Most kids do not eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Snack times offer a great opportunity to increase your child’s intake of fruits and veggies. Including carrot and celery sticks, strawberries, and veggie spring rolls in your child’s lunchbox can provide the energy they need to focus in school.

Tip: For details on food and immunity, visit our previous blog: Get the Facts on How to Build Your Immune System.  

Recipes for Kids

Here are healthful recipes to help your child find structure, learn something new, and nourish their growing bodies.

For those returning to school and need meals and snacks to go:  

For those learning at home: