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Parkland dietitian draws up game plan for back-to-school meal prep

Parkland dietitian draws up game plan for back-to-school meal prep

Our team is here for your team around the family dinner table

Summer break is almost over and soon the hustle and bustle of a new school year will be in full swing. And while students may feel those first-day jitters mounting, many parents are increasingly anxious about the challenge of getting healthy dinners on the table amidst the school-year chaos.

The key, Parkland Health nutrition experts say, is planning your week-day dinners in advance.

“It is going to be hard the first few weeks you do this, but once you have an idea as to how to do it, it will easily become part of the routine,” encourages Melissa Mendez, Registered Dietitian, Parkland Health. “If your family likes to eat the same types of food routinely, you can easily use the same meal plan for a few weeks.”

When the drop-off, pick-up, practices, full work schedules and everything else a new school year brings all begin at once, advance meal prepping may seem impossible for many parents. That’s why nutrition experts say investing a few hours of your time on Saturday or Sunday will pay big health dividends.

“Most people like to plan on the weekends. Make sure to carve out 1-2 hours of the day to sit down to think of ideas, and to create a grocery list,” says Mendez. “You can look at what you currently have in the pantry and think of fun, creative ideas using only those items.”

Mendez also encourages parents not to go it alone. Advance weekday meal prepping can be a great way to empower children to learn about nutrition and how to make healthy food choices.

“Ask the kids what they would like in the next week, then include them at cooking time. This is a great teaching moment for kids of all ages. Younger kids will learn how foods go from the store to the table, older kids can learn simple cooking techniques to take with them into life, and children of all ages can learn about nutrients and why the food we eat help our bodies grow strong.”

For meal-prepping inspiration, visit and click on the healthy eating dinner plate icon.

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