With a new school year quickly approaching, many families are preparing for busy schedules and new routines. With a bit of meal planning and preparation scheduled into your week, we can build long lasting, healthy and positive habits for ourselves and our families. Set yourself up for success by having effective and efficient routines to ease the stress of meal prepping and packing lunches.
First, encourage the whole family to get involved and brainstorm lunch ideas together using the AHS weekly meal planner. Involve kids with planning, shopping, preparing and packing their lunches as kids are more likely to eat their lunch when they help plan and prepare it. Being hands on in the kitchen also helps children and youth to develop food skills.
Start with the three building blocks of a balanced meal: Vegetables and fruit, Whole grains, and Protein. A healthy lunch does not need to be time consuming to prepare, expensive, or complicated. A simple lunch can be a nutritious and delicious.
Prepare lunch items at times that work best for you and your family Batch meal prep on a Sunday before the busy week or in the evening so that you are not rushed in the morning. Try these time saving ideas:
Wash and peel enough fruits and vegetables for several days. Store in the fridge to be packed quickly for snacks and lunches.
Make extra fish, poultry or meat during supper and slice it up for sandwiches, wraps, salads, or a bento box for lunch.
Purchase individual containers of items such as yogurt or hummus to easily pack them on the go.
Make extra portions of soups, chili, or pasta at supper. Keep leftovers in the fridge up to 3-4 days or freeze single servings. Thaw and warm up a single portion for a thermos for a school lunch or or microwave at work.
Sunny Energy Bites Ingredients
Large flake oats: 1 cup (250 mL)
Ground flax: 1/2 cup (125 mL)
Dark chocolate chips: 1/2 cup (125 mL)
Sunflower seed butter or other nut butter substitute: 1/2 cup (125 mL)
Honey: 1/3 cup (75 mL)
Dried cranberries: 1/3 cup (75 mL)
Vanilla: 1 tsp (5 mL)
In a bowl, stir together oats, flax, chocolate chips, sunflower butter, honey, cranberries and vanilla until well combined. Using a tablespoon (15 mL) of dough, roll into balls and place on plate. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Crispy Chickpeas & Pumpkin Seeds
Chickpeas, rinsed and well drained, 2 cans (16 oz)
Canola oil: 2 tbsp
Smoked paprika: 2 tsp
Cumin: 1 tsp
Garlic powder: 1 tsp
Hulled pumpkin seeds: 1/2 cup
Grated zest lime: about 2 Tbsp
Preheat oven to 425 °F (220 °C). In medium bowl, combine chickpeas, canola oil, paprika, cumin and garlic powder. Toss until well coated. Spread mixture on large baking sheet in single layer. Bake 30 minutes or until beginning to brown. Stir every 10 minutes. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, stir and bake 5 minutes more or until chickpeas are crispy, being careful not to burn them. Remove from oven and toss with lime zest. Let stand on baking sheet 30 to 45 minutes for crisp texture and peak flavors. When completely cooled, store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Alberta Healthy Living Program: The Alberta Healthy Living Program classes are available to help manage chronic conditions. Topics include Diabetes, Weight Management, Stress Management, Healthy Eating to Reduce your Risk, Emotional Eating, Virtual Grocery Store Tour and more. Access the Class Guide here.
To register call: Lethbridge 1-866-505-6654 or Medicine Hat/Brooks and area 1-866-795-9709.
Please Note: Due to COVID-19, all nutrition classes are now being offered online via Zoom.