Welcome to the Back-to-School Green Meals page! On this page, you will find nutrition tips, recipes, snack ideas, lunch box notes and more to get you started.
Healthy Back-to-School Meals
Crisp apples, leafy kale, sweet potatoes, ripe raspberries and perfect pumpkins: Fall into autumn with healthy back-to-school meals! Last year, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) awarded more than $4.2 million in federal funds to more than 180 Maryland elementary schools across the state to help children build lifelong healthy eating habits. The funds, made available by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), expanded student access to fresh fruits and vegetables in participating schools.
What are healthy back-to-school meals?
Let’s face it. We don’t always make the best meal choices during the summer. It’s the family outings to barbecues, festivals, amusement parks and state fairs. According to a survey, comfort food made a big comeback during the spread of COVID-19.
“When things are uneasy, it’s the little joys that get us through, whether FaceTiming with family and friends or stronger bonds made over home-cooked meals,” Ciera Womack, Farm Rich Senior Marketing Manager, said in a press release.
Among the 2,000 Americans polled, Farm Rich and OnePoll found that two in three people ate more comfort food during the pandemic, including pizza (55%), hamburgers (48%), ice cream (46%) and French fries (45%). The start of the school year is the perfect opportunity to develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. So what are healthy back-to-school meals? Returning to your back-to-school routine means ensuring children access healthy weekday meals. It’s all about quick and simple green breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner options with various fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, dairy and soy alternatives.
- The Comfort Food Comeback (video)
- Challenge Your Kids To Get Their Food Facts First (Tips for Parents). As a parent, you can help your kids learn about nutrition and establish healthy dietary habits. It’s easy to talk about food choices throughout the day.
- Healthy Eating on a Budget. To get the most for your dollar, follow helpful tips by MyPlate as you shop at your favorite grocery store.
- Lunch Box Notes. Cheer your children on, offer encouragement and make them smile even when you cannot be there in person with these free, printable sets of lunch box notes.
- Meal Planning. Healthy eating is important at every age. MyPlate recommends that families eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy or fortified soy alternatives. MyPlate also recommends choosing options full of nutrients and limited in added sugars, saturated fat and sodium when planning meals.
How do you make healthy school lunches?
National Sandwich Month
August is National Sandwich Month! Avocado or spinach: it’s time to spread a little magic. Practice perfect stacking just in time for back-to-school lunch. Share your perfect stacks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @MDEngageEarly using the Hashtag #BTSGreenMeals! Watch the National Sandwich Month video.
Top 5 Back-to-School Green Sandwiches:
- Cream Cheese and Cucumber Sandwich
- Vegetarian Sandwich
- The Ultimate Avocado Toast
- Easy Spinach Grilled Cheese
- Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Cheese
Take the Back-To-School Green Meals Challenge!
Ensure children are ready to learn and have a boost of energy every day. Take the Back-To-School Green Meals Challenge! Research shows that eating healthy meals can help manage anxiety and improve children’s moods. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner, try adding two greens to two meals daily for 30 days. Examples include kale, spinach, broccoli and avocado.
- Take the MFE Back-To-School Green Meals Challenge (video)
- How to create healthy habits for kids as they head back to school (video)
- Joy Bauer’s single-serve back-to-school snacks (video)
- Stress Management Tips for Children: A Healthy Diet (video)
Are you ready to take the challenge? Share your ideas, photos and videos of your creative Back-to-School Green Meals on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @MDEngageEarly using the Hashtag #BTSGreenMeals.
What’s in Season?
October is National #FarmtoSchool Month! Last year, Governor Larry Hogan designated October 4-8 as Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week. Consider buying locally-grown food from grocery stores, wholesale markets, restaurants, farmers markets and roadside stands. Take the little ones to pick their own fresh fruit and veggies.
At home, school or program, choose healthy green meals! BackTo get you started, try some USDA-recommended fall recipes!
- Pumpkin Pancakes
- Pita Pizzas
- Healthy Carrot Cake Cookies
- Baked Acorn Squash with Apples
- Peanutty Stew
What’s for Dinner?
Discover fun recipes, helpful nutrition tips, creative recipes and more with The MFE Nutrition Collection on the resources page. Learn how to cook healthy meals with children by visiting the Little Chef’s Corner. New resources are coming! So visit the nutrition collection and chef’s corner often.