Posted September 10, 2014

By Ashley Koff

For most parents, the past few weeks have been a blur of last-minute shopping trips for school supplies and clothes for kids returning to class. Now it's back to making breakfasts, school lunches and dinners for a busy family. Follow this list to get you and your family ready for the school year, bite by bite.

1. Do-It-Themselves. Tired of being a short-order cook? Then stop! You have one job and that's to ensure that quality ingredients are in the house. Grab toppings like pesto, tomato sauce, organic chicken sausage, organic tofu crumbles, organic dairy-free cheese, etc., and put them all out with pizza dough and everyone gets to make it their way. Have one vegan child and the other a meat or cheese lover? No, you don't make three different pizzas; they make their own. The best news? Not just the time and energy you save, but the fact that they are more likely to “like” it (and eat it) when they make it. Win, WIN!

2. Don't Learn a New Language. Today's food product packages can require learning a whole new language, with new ingredients and marketing phrases popping up by the hundreds. Does that mean you have to learn a whole new language to know what “food” your family should eat? NO! The stuff the body recognizes easily — food — is still called by the same name it always has had, or at least it should be. So your only job is to stock the cupboards, fridge and freezer with food — not go back to school to become a food scientist capable of deciphering a new “food” language.

3. Pack This, Not That. When it comes to school lunches, pack quality leftovers that they WILL want to eat again. Remember the ravioli from last night? Well, if you send it as is the next day, it might get frowned upon (read: traded or ignored); after all, who wants the same thing twice? BUT, if you remake it into something new — pasta salad with chicken sausage cubes and a vinaigrette dressing — they're bound to think you stayed up all night making a new meal (no need to let them know how much you enjoyed your hot bath or catching up with your friends on Facebook).

4. Freezer Friend. We often forget about the freezer, but when summer's fresh bounty is gone, as is our spare time, the best place to ensure you have quality food options is in the freezer, where frozen organic fruits, vegetables, whole-grain pizza crusts, nuts, seeds and spices can always be readily available.

Ashley Koff is an internationally renowned registered dietitian on a mission to improve the health of people across America and beyond through raising public awareness of the value of quality eating. Visit her site at

© 2014 Natural Vitality Living

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