(NAPSI)–Heading back to school means more than just shopping for a new lunch box: Planning nutritious and interesting snacks and meals is a must. Dr. Susan Mitchell, Target Health & Nutrition Expert, offers these easy and affordable ideas just in time for the school year.
Although 90 percent of Americans agree that breakfast is important, only 49 percent report eating it every day, according to the 2009 International Food Information Council Foundation’s Food and Health Survey. Add extra nutrients to the first meal of the day by mixing oatmeal with skim milk to add protein and calcium. Or jazz up a cup of yogurt with sliced fruit for extra vitamins.
Making the Most of Lunch
To help keep kids focused on schoolwork, not on growling tummies, wrap string cheese with slices of smoked turkey and serve with whole-grain crackers. Whole-wheat tortillas serve as a great blank canvas for lunch. Dr. Mitchell suggests filling wraps with turkey, lean ham or low-fat cheese and serving with veggies for a satisfying crunch packed with vitamins and minerals.
If extracurricular activities keep you in the car all afternoon, make dinnertime easier with prepared meals and dinner kits that are speedy but don’t neglect taste or nutrition. For example, an Archer Farms Simply Balanced Cajun Style Rice & Beans meal kit feeds five, costs only $4.49 and has eight grams of fiber per serving and zero grams of trans fat. Top it with fresh avocado slices for added vitamin E, advises Dr. Mitchell.
Pasta is fun and can be fixed up in a flash. Pack in more nutrients, such as fiber and manganese, by switching to a whole-wheat version. For a hearty and delicious pasta meal, try Giada De Laurentiis™ for Target Whole Wheat Penne Rigate ($2.79) and Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce ($2.99) made from real tomatoes, a complete meal for the family for under $6.
Make snacks count. A 2010 study in the journal Health Affairs found that children consumed more than 27 percent of their daily calories from snacks. “Be sure that all snacks are packed with protein and vitamins and not just empty calories,” Dr. Mitchell advises. “Look for snack foods that are small or portion controlled, better for you and fast to prepare, such as peanut butter on crackers, granola bars, or carrots and celery sticks with hummus or a low-fat dressing.”
Fruits and vegetables are great snack options, but consider purchasing organic versions to cut down on pesticide levels. SuperTarget is a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified organic produce retailer and offers a wide assortment of organic fruits and vegetables. In addition, an expanded selection of fresh grocery offerings is available at many general merchandise Target stores. These expanded food formats offer a selection of fresh produce, meats and baked goods.