Here are some top tips for you to pass onto your pupils’ parents and carers to make healthy eating easier as they get back into the school routine this September.

Healthy eating help for parents and carers as children return to school

With the holidays coming to an end, it’s time for children to go ‘back to school’. Amidst the excitement of starting a new school year, its important that children have and maintain a healthy balanced diet. Not only will a balanced diet help ensure that they get all the nutrients they need for their growth and development, it can also help to set up healthy habits.

Here are some top tips for you to pass onto your pupils’ parents and carers to make healthy eating easier as they get back into the school routine this September.

Breakfast – be prepared!

Mornings can be super-stressful, trying to get everything organised to get out the door on time. Anything that can be done to set up a healthy breakfast beforehand can help. Cereals, toast toppings and fresh or dried fruit can be put out first thing or even the night before so that children can serve themselves as soon as they are ready. They could also make their own Tasty toast. Prep can be done the night before by making some overnight oats that can be kept in the fridge, ready to be served at breakfast time.  Other ‘non-cook’ breakfast recipes include Breakfast trifle and Chia breakfast pots.

‘Baked oats’ is also another great breakfast item that can be made the night before. For one person, mix 40g oats, 80g yogurt and one egg in a bowl.  Add a handful of mixed berries (frozen berries work very well), some drained and chopped canned fruit (in juice), or grated apple or carrot. Add a little cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg for flavour and bake in the oven at 180°C for around 30 minutes.

If there is more time in the morning, there are lots of other breakfast recipes to try.

There is more information to share with parents and carers in our parental engagement area.

Lunches – find your balance

When making a packed lunch, it’s all about the balance of the main food groups. The following can be included:

  • a starchy food like bread, pittas, wraps, couscous, pasta or rice – go wholegrain where possible;
  • protein from foods like beans, lentils, fish, eggs and meats;
  • veg such as cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks or peppers and some fruit;
  • dairy or alternatives as a snack, such as cheese or yogurt or have milk as a drink.

As an alternative to traditional sandwiches, why not try Hummus, pepper and grated carrot pockets, Pitta pockets, Tantalising tuna wraps, Mexican pockets, or Crunchy chickpea sandwich? Vegetable couscous is another great packed lunch dish – ideal for using up leftovers and preventing food waste!

You could also work with parents and carers to encourage them to create healthier lunchboxes with, and for, their children. Use our parental engagement resources to support.


Children need about 6-8 drinks across the day and water and milk are the best choices as they don’t contain free sugars. Juices and smoothies can be offered too but it’s best to have no more than one small glass (150ml) a day, because they contain sugars and can be acidic. Reusable water bottles are great for children to take to school so that they can have water throughout the day.

There is more information that can be shared with parents and carers around the importance of healthy hydration in our parental engagement area.

Snack smart

Young children have small stomachs and so healthy snacks between meals can help add essential nutrients. Parents and carers can stock up on healthier options so that there is something on hand to help resist pester power for sweets! Fresh fruit, cheese balls, mini sandwiches, wholegrain crackers or fruit loaf are good options.

Eat together

Parents and carers are the most important role model for young children. Eating together is a great opportunity to show children how to eat well, not just tell them! It’s not always easy if the after-school schedule is hectic but making some time during the week to eat together, without distractions like TV or phones, is an ideal way to support healthy eating as a family.

Plan ahead

Meal planning for the week is also a great way to get ahead. Organising beforehand can help with planning meals, setting aside the ingredients needed, and will also help with having a variety of foods during the week. For inspiration, you can refer parents and carers to the British Nutrition Foundation’s 7-day meal planner. 

Remember, healthy eating does not need to be hectic and time consuming. Making consistent, realistic and easy dietary decisions everyday can make a big difference in our overall health and wellbeing.

For further information around supporting parents and carers with healthier eating and healthier lifestyles for their families, including the importance of sleep, go to our parental engagement area.

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