Variety is key to keeping meals healthy and fresh, so look for ways to update the classics to make them healthier and keep them easy, suggests chef, dietician and nutritionist Nicolette Pace. Peanut butter and jelly can use different nut butters, whole fresh fruit slices, and nutritious bread. Mac and cheese, which can be packed with calories, can take a variety of cheeses and and sneaked-in vegetables such as zucchini or broccoli, and chicken for protein.
"Salads are never easy to get a kid to eat, but if you deconstruct them with the components that they do like, this is the perfect way to turn them on to eating healthy and trying new things," Pace says, suggesting a bento box approach using fruits, vegetables, or nuts kids already enjoy as snacks.
"Several snacks add up to one delicious and nutritious meal. Think small portions of olives, carrots and celery with dip, berries, nuts, hummus and crackers, cheese, tuna, avocado, dark chocolate. Your children can guide you or even help you create this lunch option," Pace says.