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10 Tips for Eating Healthy on Busy School Days

Thanks to Del Monte for sponsoring this post. Click here to see more of the discussion.

Our family has been traveling a lot this summer, which completely puts our schedule in flux. As a result, we often end up eating less healthfully than normal, so this year I made an effort to change that pattern! Of course there are always lollipops and sugar cereals to be had when visiting grandparents, but even with those extra treats, we’ve been able to maintain healthy eating habits these past few weeks despite the busy days and crazy schedule.

I have made a conscious effort to keep my family healthy, and I feel like this vacation has been good practice for when school starts again in a few short weeks. Honestly, I’m kind of dreading back-to-school season because it means we’ve got to get back to the grind. Up early in the morning, sports practices, packing lunches, homework it seems like it never ends! But I’m sure if I can maintain the momentum from this summer, we can continue with our healthy eating habits when school days get busy!

  • Healthy Eating Despite Crazy Schedules! 1 of 11
    healthy eating when school days get busy

    These 10 tips help keep us eating healthy while traveling and when the busy school year is in full swing!

    Photo source: Jane Maynard

  • Plan Ahead! 2 of 11
    plan ahead for healthy eating

    It doesn't matter if it's summer break or the thick of the school year, when I plan our food and meals ahead of time, we always eat healthier. I personally plan a weekly menu each Sunday and grocery shop based on the menu.

    When I have a menu plan and shop accordingly, I'm much more likely to prepare our family's meals, which is always healthier. Plus, by looking ahead I can take into account the busy days and come up with a plan, whether that means cooking more food the day before to provide leftovers or packing more of a picnic-type dinner that can be eaten on the go. 

    I plan a weekly menu each Sunday, and that helps me stay on track. Even when  we were on vacation, I still made sure to get a plan together, and it helped tremendously to prevent us from eating unhealthy food. It made a big difference from previous years' vacations when I didn't plan ahead, and you better believe we'll keep on planning once school starts!

    Photo source: Jane Maynard

  • Always Have Healthy Snacks on Hand 3 of 11
    del monte fruit burst healthy snack

    I can't believe how many times a day I hear the words "I'm hungry" from my kids. It's astounding! I've gotten a lot better in recent years at making sure we have a variety of healthy snacks on hand for the kids to grab when they need something. Whether it's yogurt, fresh fruit and veggies in the fridge at home or nutritious packed snacks for when we're out and about, I make sure we always have something in stock!

    We have loved having the Del Monte Fruit Burst Squeezers on hand this summer while we've been traveling, and I know they'll come in super handy this fall for sports bags and lunch boxes, too. The kids have loved the different flavors and that they aren't all just applesauce variations. And I love that they are getting 1 1/2 servings of fruit!

    If I can keep the kids fueled with healthy snacks throughout the day, everybody is happier!

    Photo source: Jane Maynard

  • Don’t Buy the Junk! 4 of 11
    chocolate covered pretzels are devilish

    Simply don't buy junk food to begin with! If I buy the devilish chocolate-covered pretzels that I love so much, then I eat the devilish chocolate covered-pretzels that I love so much. If those pretzels never make it into our house, there are no pretzels for me to  devour!

    The same principle applies to my kids. If we have junk food lying around, then they are constantly asking for it. If the junk food isn't there, they don't even think about what they're missing. Out of sight, out of mind! It seems so simple, but it really is one of the keys to our success for eating healthfully when life gets hectic!

    Photo source: Jane Maynard

  • Prep and Cook Food Ahead of Time! 5 of 11
    ina garten's lasagna

    Once school and sports days get rolling, there really is not a lot of time in the evening to cook. The nights when I feel most strapped for time are usually the nights we dine out. When we dine out, we eat less healthfully.

    This summer I've gotten a lot better about making meals ahead of time so that when dinnertime rolls around, preparation is quick and easy. Whether it's having cooked chicken in the fridge ready to go for a meal or making a lasagna and tossing it in the freezer for later, any advance prep I can do always makes life easier when our schedule gets super busy.

    Pictured: Turkey Lasagna

    Photo source: Jane Maynard

  • Keep Your Kitchen Clean 6 of 11
    kitchen

    If your kitchen looks like a bomb site, you are a lot less likely to get in there and cook! Try to stay on top of cleaning the kitchen after every meal and get the kids involved in the clean-up, too! A clean workspace will allow you to prep all that wholesome food in a happy environment!

  • Never Be Without a Go-To Meal 7 of 11
    pantry

    Be sure your pantry is stocked with staples for basic meals and put your freezer to work for you. Fill the freezer with frozen meals (preferably homemade) that can be used in a pinch. No matter how good you are about menu planning there are always going to be nights when the plan simply falls apart. That's okay! If you have go-to meals waiting for you, your stress level will be low and your healthy eating level will be high! Remember, even fortified cold cereal or a nice bowl of oatmeal can be a good fallback it's certainly better than the drive-thru!

  • Stock Up on Healthy Lunchbox Staples 8 of 11
    lunch-3

    Buy lunchbox ingredients like bread, lunch meat, peanut butter and snacks in bulk so that you always have what you need to pack healthy lunches. The freezer can come in handy with this as well. Lots of foods can be frozen and saved for later. I always buy at least 4 loaves of wheat bread at a time to have on hand for the lunch box they live in the freezer until I'm ready for them!

  • Have Grab-and-Go Breakfasts at the Ready! 9 of 11
    breakfast-2

    We all know how crazy the morning is, but no matter how busy, getting a good breakfast in is very important for good health! For the mornings that get especially hectic, keep grab-n-go breakfast items at the ready. These 10 grab-and-go breakfast ideas are convenient and healthy!

  • Moderation in All Things 10 of 11
    chocolate chip cookies

    Just because we try to eat healthfully doesn't mean we have to skip out on fun foods! By exercising moderation, eating healthy foods isn't a drag because we know that we will get special treats now and again. Our vacation has been a perfect example of this treats abound when on vacation, but the kids have done a good job of not going crazy and have still eaten their good food, too! By allowing our kids to have some treats, they look forward to and appreciate them but are still very aware of getting in their "growing foods." And it's okay to eat out every once in a while, too!

    When I can, I make our treats from scratch so I know what ingredients are going into our "junk" food. Homemade chocolate chip cookies are mine and my kids' favorite!

    Pictured: Alice's Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Photo source: Jane Maynard

  • Prioritize Family Dinner at the Table 11 of 11
    family-dinner

    We hear this all the time, but eating together as a family is good for so many reasons. Not only do we eat healthier when we sit down and enjoy our meals together, but we spend much needed time reconnecting as family members and building relationships despite the busy schedules. Sure, we can't do it every day, but eating dinner as a family should be a priority and happen as often as possible. And don't forget to turn off the TV and set the mobile devices aside! Conscious eating is healthy eating!

Read more from Jane at This Week for DinnerKitchen Tunage and The Spoiler Alert. For more updates, follow Jane on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest!

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