Fall Menu Planning with Eggland’s Best

October 2, 2012
By: Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.
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Family life gets hectic when the kids go back to school and mom and dad return to their regular routines. As parents know, lack of time can put a damper on your best intentions to feed your family right. Yet, good nutrition is necessary for everyone in the family to keep up, especially for children in the classroom and on the playing field. Here’s how to start the school year off on the right foot.

Plan to succeed. Planning healthy meals and snacks is the cornerstone of nutritious eating. Plus, thinking ahead saves time and money: There’s less dashing to the store for ingredients, and you cut down on costly take-out and convenience foods.

Get it and forget it. Take time on the weekend to figure out what foods you need for the week ahead, and shop for the ingredients.

Cook once, eat twice. Double up on your favorite chili, lasagna, or stew. Roast a whole chicken, or prepare it in the slow cooker, serve it with vegetables and rice or pasta one night, and make chicken and cheese quesadillas the next.

Let’s Make A Meal

Breakfast. Time is tight, but make room for breakfast. A healthy breakfast feeds the body and brain, and studies suggest children who eat breakfast have an easier time with concentration and problem solving, and are less disruptive in the classroom.

The best breakfasts include nutrient-rich foods and adequate protein. Protein-packed foods, such as milk, yogurt, and Eggland’s Best eggs, help to keep kids fuller for longer, and provide energy. Eggland’s Best eggs contain twice the brain-boosting omega-3 fats of ordinary eggs, and three times the vitamin B12, which the brain requires to function properly.

Planning, flexibility, and simplicity are key to making breakfast part of the morning routine. Here are some suggestions for what to eat on busy mornings.

•    Whole grain, low-sugar cereal with low-fat milk and fruit
•    Egg and mushroom pita pocket topped with reduced-fat cheddar cheese
•    Toasted whole grain waffle sandwich with sunflower seed butter, peanut or almond butter, California raisins, and low-fat yogurt
•    Slice of Applesauce Walnut Bread, milk, fruit
•    Scrambled or hard-cooked Eggland’s Best eggs, 100% orange juice, and ½ whole wheat English muffin with tub margarine
•    Banana smoothie: Blend 1 cup low-fat milk with a medium banana and teaspoon vanilla extract in blender or food processor. Serve with ½ whole wheat English muffin topped with tub margarine

Lunch. Kids may take the same sandwich every day for a while, but they may suddenly lose interest in lunch. Vary sandwiches by using different whole grain breads, such as pita bread, naan, and wraps. Change up fillings with egg salad made from Eggland’s Best eggs, and by combining chopped celery or water chestnuts with tuna salad, and chopped grapes with chicken salad. Sliced banana and apples or shredded carrots make colorful, interesting additions to peanut butter or sunflower seed butter sandwiches.

There’s no need serve to only sandwiches, as long as children eat a balanced meal and a varied diet. Here are some healthy alternatives to standard lunch fare:

•    Reduced-sodium turkey breast or ham wrapped around string cheese, whole wheat crackers or a whole wheat bagel, carrot sticks, milk
•    Whole grain roll with butter or tub margarine, hard-cooked Eggland’s Best egg (or two), cherry tomatoes, milk
•    Low-fat yogurt, fruit, whole grain crackers or whole wheat bagel
•    Whole grain cereal, fruit, milk
•    Leftovers kept warm in a thermos, fruit or vegetables, milk

Dinner. It’s 5:00 PM: Do you know what’s for dinner? It’s easy to prepare quick and healthy meals like Tuna Patties on Whole-Wheat English Muffins  when you have healthy ingredients on hand. Try breakfast for dinner, too. Pair omelets, scrambled eggs, and French toast made with Eggland’s Best eggs, with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk for balanced meals.

Here are some other combinations to get dinner on the table fast.

•    Rotisserie chicken, salad of pre-washed greens, cherry tomatoes, and olives, quick-cooking grain, such as whole-wheat couscous
•    Thin-crust frozen whole-grain pizza, fruit salad, milk
•    Frozen spinach and cheese pie, rice (cook while spinach pie is in the oven), fruit, milk
•    Coconut chicken tenders, fruit, milk
•    Burgers made with 100% ground turkey breast or 95% lean ground beef, on whole-wheat buns; salad with pre-washed greens, mandarin oranges, sliced almonds, milk
•    Pasta and prepared marinara sauce combined with leftover chopped roasted or grilled chicken or canned, drained garbanzo beans added to it; fruit, milk

Snacks. Kids and adults snack a lot. Since children may miss meals because of busy schedules, snacks should be mini-meals, not treats, like cookies, soda, and chips. Serve your child the same healthy foods for snacks that you would have at meals, including low-fat dairy and other lean protein sources, eggs, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Balanced snacks provide protein and carbohydrate. Here are some examples:

•    Small slice of pizza, orange juice with added calcium and vitamin D
•    Half of a sandwich, fruit • Sliced cheddar cheese melted on top of whole wheat tortilla, low-sodium vegetable juice • Whole wheat graham crackers, Eggland’s Best hard-cooked egg
•    Plain, 1-minute or instant oatmeal microwaved with low-fat milk and topped with ¼ cup dried fruit and 2 tablespoons chopped almonds

Eggland’s Best Nutrition Partner - Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD Elizabeth M. Ward, MS, RD, is a writer and nutrition consultant. She is the author of several books, including her latest, MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better. Elizabeth also writes on a regular basis for Men's Fitness, WebMD, and USAToday.com.

Ward created and conducted corporate nutrition education programs for five years at Medical Care Affiliates in Boston, where she also counseled ambulatory patients. She has worked at the Joslin Diabetes Center and the American Heart Association, and for seven years counseled children and adults about healthy eating and disease prevention at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston.

Eggland's Best is a Sponsor of Macaroni Kid.