Easy Back-to-School Meal Prep Tips

A mom shops with her daughter in a grocery store with produce in the cart

By Jeanette Lamb, Registered Dietitian, Vassar Brothers Medical Center


It’s well-established good nutrition fuels not only good health but better school performance. When schedules get busy or money is tight, nutrition often suffers. But there is a strong case for taking the time to think about how we set ourselves up for eating well during the school year. Here are some ideas to think about as we get ready to embark on another year of school:


Meal plan to save money, time

  • A weekly or monthly menu planned in advance will ultimately save time and money during the week. This study shows you can save money, and you will eat out less if you spend a little time focused on healthy meals throughout the week.
  • Save time and money by only grocery shopping for what’s on your menu.
  • Order groceries online and pick them up on your way home from work.

Cook up the good stuff

  • Your school breakfast and lunch and after-school dinner plan should include a lean protein at every meal. Protein will help your family to build muscle and tissues in their bodies as well as keep everyone feeling full.
  • Include in-season plant foods in your menu, as most in season will be less pricey and fresher.
  • Choose unprocessed over processed foods. Shop the outside of the grocery store.
  • Water is best. Replace juice boxes and sports drinks with free and delicious H2O.

Don’t forget to prep

Working adults and parents often rely on convenience over home-prepared foods to make hectic days easier. Have a plan and take some time each week to prepare some healthy convenience foods. This can go a long way to improve the nutritional quality of your child’s diet.

Some simple tips:

  • Have fruits washed and available for convenient snacking.
  • Make single-serving sizes of snacks like trail mix.
  • Have easy-to-eat food such as hardboiled eggs, guacamole and/or hummus with vegetables and whole grain crackers for dipping on hand.
  • Have Mason jar salads made in advance for easy, on-the-go meals or snacks.
  • Try overnight oats.


With some planning and preparation, we can help to set kids up for a healthy, productive school year!

For more back-to-school tips, visit Nuvance Healthline