Fueling Mamas for Back to School

With back-to-school in full swing, mamas everywhere are packing lunches, running kids to and from school and practices, as well as trying to keep a tidy house. With so much going on, it can be easy to neglect your personal needs and oftentimes that means missing meals and snacks. The challenge is that if you try to keep up the pace without adequate fuel, you will feel tired, have less energy to do everyday tasks and might be a liiiiittle short with your family and friends.


With so many demands, there is no doubt that meals and snacks need to be easy, nutrient-rich and quick. Let us help you “knit” together a plan so that you can stay energized during the busy back-to-school season!


First things first, mamas, you have to eat breakfast! You make your kids eat it, right? That means you should too! A carbohydrate and protein combo are ideal to start fueling first thing so that you don’t encounter low energy later. And don’t worry, breakfast can be easy! You can even eat what your kids eat! Here are some examples to get your morning going in the right direction:

  • Whole grain peanut butter toast with berries on top and a glass of milk
  • 3-5 nut butter energy bites and a fruit (Stir ¼ cup honey and ½ cup nut butter together. Then stir in 1 cup oats and ½ cup nonfat dry milk powder or protein powder, roll into balls and refrigerate!)
  • Overnight oats - Fill a mason jar with oats and milk along with your favorite toppings (nuts, chia/flax/pumpkin seeds, dry fruit, coconut, etc.) 
  • Smoothie with milk, yogurt, fruit and nut butter (you can add in spinach or kale too) - Make the night before and just stir in the morning
  • Egg muffin cups and a whole grain granola bar (Whisk 8 eggs with your favorite veggie, meat, cheese and a dash of salt and pepper and cook at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes, or until eggs are done in center) - You can make these egg muffins on the weekend and store them in the refrigerator for an easy pop of protein on busy mornings

Snacks are another key to staying energized throughout the day! Carbs and protein at frequent intervals can keep you from having an energy crash, as well as from overeating at the next meal. Here are some easy on-the-go snacks to pack with you during the day:

  • Hummus, raw veggies and whole grain crackers
  • Protein bar with 10-15 grams of protein (Some of my dietitian picks are RxBar, Clif Whole Lotta Bar, KIND Protein Bar, LaraBar Protein, Aloha Bars, Bob’s Red Mill Bars, 88 Acres Seed Bars for nut-free houses)
  • String cheese (or 2) and grapes
  • Almonds (Keep a baggie in your purse or bag for snack emergencies!)
  • 2-4 nut butter energy bites (from above) work great as a snack as well

Lunch can be a challenge for mamas on-the-go all day. I recommend the kid-style bento box for kids AND moms. It is a great way to hit all the food groups in a calorie-controlled way. Here are a few nutrient-rich colorful combos to pack for you and your kids:

  • Yogurt with berries and granola on top, nuts, baby carrots, edamame
  • Turkey and cheese roll-ups, cherry tomatoes, apple slices, whole grain crackers
  • Peanut butter and jelly triangles on whole grain bread, cheese cubes, grapes, celery sticks
  • Pistachios, yellow squash slices, avocado-yogurt dip, strawberries, whole grain pretzels
  • Hummus, whole grain tortilla triangles, mini sweet peppers, blueberries, string cheese

Dinners can also be rushed with homework and after school activities. Do your best to shape a plate that includes the food groups for your family and YOU! Here are some fun ways to do it that don’t take much time:

  • Whole wheat quesadillas with cheese and chicken (use cooked chicken and broil in oven), guacamole, a steam in the bag veggie and fruit for dessert
  • Whole grain pita pizzas with tomato sauce, cheese, veggies and your favorite protein (broil in oven until warm and crispy), salad kit and yogurt parfaits for dessert
  • Mini pulled pork or beef sliders (get the meat cooking in a crockpot to save time) - Top whole grain buns with a slice of cheese, meat, lettuce, tomato and serve with veggie tots (frozen) and strawberries drizzled with vanilla yogurt for dessert
  • Easy pasta night - Buy a pre-made frozen pasta (ideally whole grain noodles) with veggies and chicken, then add 1-2 bags of steam-in-the-bag zucchini noodles to boost the veggie content for an all-in-one meal and serve up with half an oat-based, chocolate chip granola bar with milk for dessert
  • Breakfast for dinner! Use the egg cups you made over the weekend and pair with whole grain frozen waffles topped with yogurt, fruit and your favorite chopped nut and a small glass of chocolate milk for dessert

Healthy eating can be energizing and easy! Don’t feel like you have to slave in the kitchen for hours to prepare meals - instead stock your fridge and pantry with easy fueling options that the whole family can enjoy!

-Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD


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