5 Back to School Routines That Make Life Easier

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on August 25, 2014

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The time has come.

As of yesterday, both of my kids are in school full time. While many different emotions are running through me as my youngest starts kindergarten, one of them is definitely excitement.  I’m looking forward to one drop off and more time to get the important stuff done.

Although work will take up a good portion of my time, I plan to incorporate these 5 routines to help things run as smoothly as possible.

1. Strategic Meal Planning: I already map a month’s worth of dinners for my family but each week I need to double check those meals.  Whether it’s planned activities or things that come up, the meals I make need to match the amount of time I have to cook. I plan to jot down my grocery list on Sunday, post the dinner meals on the fridge and shop on Monday.

Bottom line: With two kids doing homework in the afternoon, stress-free dinners are important.

2. Food Prep Day: I plan to add a food prep day on Tuesday.  This will be the day I will make items like salsa, pasta sauce, soups, salad dressings and muffins.  I will also make some sides, and if possible, future meals along with hot lunches for me and my husband.

I’m not sure how this food prep day will go but the goal is to minimize cooking the rest of the week.

3. Kid Lunch Check in: The kids will get four packed lunches every week and one hot lunch at school.  Because things change quickly throughout the year, I plan to check in with my kids on a regular basis.  I’ll also have this talk with my husband.

How do you like what I’m packing?

What would you like to see more of?

Is your snack too big or too small?  Are you hungry by the time lunch rolls around?

4. Making Lunches: Big A is ready to start dabbling in the lunch-making routine so I’ll be having her make one lunch every week.  In Fearless Feeding, we have lunch-making templates to help school-age kids learn how to put a meal together (think food groups).  And I just ran across this PDF from Super Healthy Kids aimed to help kids make their own sandwich.  Big A will also look through some cookbooks to get ideas including my favorite: Best Lunch Box Ever.

5. Clean Out One Area: Each week I plan to pick an area of our place to sort through (AKA throw stuff out!).  Whether its toys, part of the kitchen, bookcase or files, the idea is to slowly get rid of what we don’t use. Doing a little at a time should add up through the school year.

This all sounds great, doesn’t it?  Let’s see what really happens when I start to implement these every week.  I’ll be sure to provide honest updates in my monthly meal plans.

Any new back to school routines you’ll be implementing?

 

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Why I Will Never Lie to My Children About Food

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on August 19, 2014

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This is a post from 2012 (with a  change in title).  I’m taking some time off before the new school year starts.  So I may be slow to accept comments and get back to you over the next week or so.

“Just tell him we aren’t selling ice cream today,” the nice lady at my son’s preschool said to me, watching him meltdown when I said we weren’t buying the ice cream they sell. He didn’t understand that we buy it on Fridays, not Mondays.

That’s not the first time someone has told me to lie to my child about food. When my daughter was my son’s age, just about 3, my husband would start lying “we don’t have any.” And I’d interrupt with “yes we have ice cream, we can’t have some now but how about tomorrow night?”

I don’t fear sweets or any of the other not-so nutritious foods out there and I’m certainly not going to start fibbing to my children to avoid the meltdown. Quite the contrary, I want to teach my child to coexist with these foods without going ballistic. But I know a secret many parents don’t know. And I want to share it with you.

Why the lying?
One of the reasons people lie to kids about food is that they are afraid they will beg for it or can’t handle knowing that it is around. Yes, by telling the truth you do have to know what your answer will be when they ask for it. But kids need to start learning, sooner or later, that it is okay for that food (whatever it is) to be around and for them not to eat it.

The best way to get around this one is to let them know they will get it again fairly soon. If you come through and provide their favorites with some sort of regularity, and let them enjoy it, the times they do ask for it and you respond with a “not now”, they can deal with the answer (see Why it’s Okay to Say No to Your Child About Food).

Let kids truly enjoy ALL foods
Right now Little D loves ketchup and when we have it, that is all he will eat. Lately my husband has asked me to stop serving it (mostly because of the mess). But we only have it once every week or two and Little D eats a good variety other times. Of course, I encourage him to dip his food in the ketchup, like roasted potatoes, but he just looks at me while taking his hand and spooning up the red mess.

When Big A was around 3, she always wanted fries when we went out to eat. She would eat them so fast — it was like she had a fry deficiency. I was a little worried but I didn’t serve them at home so I figured once every couple of weeks was okay. I didn’t lie and say fries weren’t on the menu or only keep her to a few bites. The fries were there for her to enjoy – and enjoy she did.

She also used to eat Tiger milk bars at my mom’s house once a week. I’d hear her ask for the bar right as I was leaving. Most times she’d say “Mom, are you leaving yet?” so she could get to eating her bar.

soothewithoutfood

Children will tire of foods
What most parents don’t realize is that children will tire of foods, even their favorites. It may take a while but over time they will move on from the bread, sweets, fries, or rice all on their own. It’s like a favorite toy they eventually just stop playing with. They may still like it a lot, but the fever in which they eat it slows. For example, Big A is no longer crazy about fries and doesn’t touch bars at my mom’s house anymore.

But what if I stopped going to places that served fries or demanded my mom remove the bars? If children are constantly stopped or controlled when eating, they are left wanting. I’m not saying parents should allow children to eat their favorites nonstop either, but they shouldn’t be afraid to serve them in a frequency that makes nutritional sense and allow kids to enjoy as they see fit (feeding them at the table — and with structure — helps them stay mindful).

I believe the key components of moderation is knowing you can eat something to satisfaction, being mindful while eating and losing the judgment (it’s bad for me, I shouldn’t, I’m bad for eating this). When you allow kids to satisfy their curiosity when it comes to food, and stay neutral in how you respond, they learn how to live in a food-centric world without going hog wild.

And the best part is you don’t have to ever lie about food again.

Has letting your child enjoy all food (the way they want) been hard for you?

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Fortified Foods: The Good, The Bad and The Useless

August 12, 2014
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You’re at the grocery store and you have the choice to buy regular orange juice or the kind with added calcium and vitamin D. Should you do it? How about that milk with DHA for your toddler? In today’s world, it seems every food item has some nutrient added to it to make us healthier. [...]




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Monthly Meal Plan (August)

August 4, 2014
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I cannot believe it’s August and summer is almost over.  My kids start school a week earlier this year — August 25. Help! Actually, we are taking our vacation this month so no meals scheduled for one out of the four weeks.  Don’t forget to check Org Junkie for more meal planning inspiration! What’s Cooking? [...]




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5 Easy Ways to Expand Your Family’s Meal Base

July 30, 2014
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This is Kitchen Revamp, an ongoing series about simplifying cooking in my house It’s been a busy day and it’s time to think about dinner.  You can either try that new recipe that will take twice the time with questionable results or stick by an old standby that you know works.  Odds are, if you’re like [...]




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3 Lessons I’ve Learned Parenting a Late Bloomer

July 24, 2014
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I am with my kids at the park when they rush to the swings.  I start to push Big A while Little D swings on his tummy, as he always does.  He has yet to sit on a big-kid swing and well, swing. But all of a sudden he asks: “can I sit there?” pointing [...]




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Baked Chicken & Bean Taquitos [Recipe]

July 22, 2014
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A couple of years ago Big A discovered the joy of taquitos (or what we called “rolled tacos” in my day).  This isn’t surprising as she loves food that is crispy, which is probably why she’s not super enthusiastic with my usual baked chicken taquitos.  Of course, I’m competing with Rubio’s chicken taquitos, which are [...]




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Why it’s Okay to Say “No” to Your Child About Food

July 14, 2014
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Janet with was with her 5 year old daughter at a play date.  As it was coming to a close, the kids pulled out cookies and begged to have them.  Janet wasn’t sure because it was less than an hour from dinner.  Plus, she had a fun dessert planned. But there was her precious girl [...]




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Summer Kale Salad [Recipe]

July 8, 2014
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Every year my husband and brother-in-law run the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, and every year they ask me to do it. This was the first year I said yes. It was fun but a trek up there (about an hour from where we live). The course was hilly with lots of obstacles and, towards the [...]




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Monthly Meal Plan (July)

July 1, 2014
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I hope you are having a relaxing summer!  My first week of summer was kind of disastrous with plans falling through and the kids whining.  I even started second guessing my “enjoy the kids” goal.  But like anything, it can take time to get into a groove.  Things started to improve as soon I added [...]




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