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Easy On-the-Go Breakfast Ideas

We keep hearing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but many people still have trouble finding time in their busy mornings to eat a nutritious breakfast.

breakfast (banana, cereal, and milk)

Here are some quick grab and go ideas:

  • Whole fruit, like bananas, apples and oranges. (For an even faster option, keep peeled oranges in the refrigerator in plastic baggies)
  • Whole grains and peanut butter: spread 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on whole wheat bread, bagels, English muffins, or frozen waffles.
  • Low fat yogurt cups.
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Low sugar granola bars
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Leftovers: you don’t have to eat breakfast food for breakfast!

Planning ahead

Planning your meals ahead of time will actually save you time and money in the long-run, and help you stay on track with healthier food options.
meal plan chart
Here are some ways to plan ahead:

  • Plan as a family. Have family members suggest different healthy meals they want for the week.
  • Buy meat in bulk, then season, divide into portions and freeze. When prepping for a week’s worth of meals, place each entrée in a glass container, so you can easily identify its content at a moment’s notice.
  • Plan meals by using a checklist of proteins, fruits and veggies and side dishes of all the colors of the rainbow. This makes it much more fun and exciting when the kids actually choose to eat or try foods like purple eggplant or yellow squash blossoms.
  • Have a meal that you serve once every week.
  • On the weekends (or days when you have more time), make bigger meals or meals you can double to freeze such as lasagna or enchiladas, to reheat during the week
  • Be flexible! For some people, using a very precise menu for every day of the week works well, but some people actually find it more stressful to be tied into food that their family may or may not be excited about that day. Another option is to plan a loose guide of the proteins and general veggies for the week and make what sounds good in the moment.

What other ways do you like to plan ahead? Comment below!

Reduce Screen Time

There are a lot of great ways to help get your kids reduce their time in front of the television, computer or video games. Here are a few tips:

  • Talk to your family. Explain to your kids that it’s important to sit less and move more in order to be healthy. Tell them how they will feel better, have more energy, and help them develop and/or improve skills like riding a bike or shooting hoops. 
  • Log screen time vs active time. Start tracking how much time your family spends in front of a screen, including things like TV and DVD watching, playing video games, or playing games on a smart phone. Then take a look at how much physical activity your family gets. That way you can get a sense of what changes need to be made.
  • Make screen time = active time. When you do spend time in front of a screen, do something active. Stretch, lift weights, or walk in place. Or, challenge the family to see who can do the most push ups, jumping jacks or leg lifts during TV commercial breaks.
  • Set screen time limits. Create a house rule that limits screen time to two hours every day. More importantly, enforce the rule.
  • Make meal time = family time. Turn off the TV during meal times. Family meals are a great time to talk to each other.
  • Provide other options. Watching TV can become a habit, which makes it easy to forget what else is out there to do. Give your kids ideas such as playing outside, getting a new hobby, or learning a sport.
  • Don’t use TV time as a reward or punishment. This makes TV seem even more important to children.

Adapted from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. US Department of Health and Human Services.  

child watching TV

Easy salads

Keep chopped vegetables like carrots, cucumber, broccoli, and peppers in the fridge to top a quick and easy salad.

If you pack a salad for lunch the night before or in the morning, layer it in a jar or plastic container with the salad dressing on the bottom with toppings like beans, carrots or bell pepper that won’t get soggy, and then put salad greens on top. Right before eating, shake it all up!Salad in a Jar

Sweet Potato Fries

sweet potato fries with fresh thyme

1 sweet potato, unpeeled and washed
1 teaspoon oil
optional spices (see below)
Optional Spices:
For additional seasoning and variety, you could add

  • cinnamon and sugar
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • curry powder
  • cayenne pepper
  • Italian seasoning
  • your favorite non-salt seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Cut potato into fry-like strips: First cut the potato in half length-wise, then cut into thick slices. Lie the thick slices down and cut them into strips.
3. Put the strips on a cookie sheet and add 1 teaspoon of oil. Season with any additional seasoning and then stir to coat them. Make sure none of the potatoes are touching each other on the cookie sheet. *Have your kids help with this step!
4. Place potatoes in a 450 degrees oven for about 20 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.

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Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

North Carolina State University
Agricultural and Human Sciences Department

Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES)

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