The alarm sounds. Feet hit the floor running. The mad rush of school days has arrived. Tripping over each other, fighting over bathroom time, flying to the fridge to find a breakfast that can be taken "to go". That's how most mornings go in many households on a daily basis. After school is just as rushed with all of the activities that kids now take part in across the United States.
It's difficult enough, in this fast-paced society, to find the time to grocery shop, let alone cook, the nutritious meals that are required to maintain health and wellness. Parents are almost forced to choose convenience over health when it comes to meal planning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Michigan has a whopping 28.9% obese population. That's almost one-third of our state! Children are increasingly becoming overweight - even with all of the scheduled sports, dance and other extracurricular activities. The need for convenience may have taken its toll on our families.
So what can parents do to ensure our families a healthy meal?
1. Shop fresh! Avoid fruit cups, cookies, frozen or canned vegetables. Buying fresh foods will allow the family to grab fruits or vegetables on the go. Make your own fat-free cookies. There are many free, easy and tasty cookies, brownie and cake recipes online.
2. Avoid fast food, at all costs! It may be tempting to stop by the local hamburger place to pick up something quick to eat, but it will cost extra money and calories your family cannot afford. Preparing meals for the upcoming week on the weekend can be a great family activity and a great time saver during the week. Many meals can be prepared and frozen for quick, no-stress dinners during the week.
3. Leftover dinners make great lunches! Pack your dinner leftovers into convenient containers that family members can grab on the go and take for lunch or snacks. This is cost efficient as well as time efficient.
4. Keep whole grain bagels, breads and english muffins on hand. A toasted whole wheat english muffin with two tablespoons of peanut butter can supply the body with 20% of the fiber and 25% of the protein needed for a healthy diet according to the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA).
5. Eat a variety of foods in moderation! Shop the rainbow. Grab vegetables and fruits in all the colors. Grapes, apples, carrots, celery and bananas are all great foods that can easily be taken on the road when you’re in a rush.