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Food Tips For Remote Learning

August 19, 2020
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Food Tips for Remote Learning

My daughter just started kindergarten this week; it’s fully remote so her classroom is in our living room and her assignment facilitators are my husband and me. (Kindergarteners only Zoom for two 30 minute sessions per day. So much is on us). Despite not looking at all like I imagined this transition to look, my daughter is earnestly trying, safe, and excited to be home with us all day. 

My kids both previously went to preschool outside the home, so it’s new to us for them to be around all day, all week. One of the many challenges is how much food these kids need! I mean, it’s constant: I need a snack, I don’t want this snack, where’s my water, is it lunch yet, I don’t want that lunch, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on… If you relate, keep reading. 

  1. Make a meal plan! Do I sound like a broken record? If so, it’s because spending a few minutes a week on a plan will remove SO MUCH STRESS during the week. Ends+Stems is dinner recipe service but if you make a plan for breakfasts, snacks and lunches, you will always have what you need on hand and you will omit precious minutes and brain cells from having to wonder “hmmm, what’s in here? What should we eat?”.
  2. If your kids can read, post it where they can see it! Any questions that sound like “What’s for breakfast/lunch/snack?” can be answered by the very simple phrase: You know where to look for the answer.
  3. Regardless of your kid’s ages, enlist their help in planning this and making the decisions. This tactic is genius for 2 reasons. ONE: You have help coming up with ideas. TWO: When they make the suggestions, it’s easier to get them to eat what you offer.
  4. Eat healthy foods. Eating well will make your body and mind feel strong and functional. “Healthy” is different for everyone but keep an eye on balanced meals and incorporating fruits and vegetables.
  5. Eat treats too! But, a little “bribe” goes a long way. In California, experts recommend putting cookies or treats in earthquake kits because when you’re down, scared, or working hard a little pick me up in the form of a cookie is just what you need sometimes. Keep treats for after a balanced meal or after a job well done. Personally, I think if you set up a treats schedule in advance, it’s less like an in-the-heat-of-the-moment bribe. Positive rewards are motivating and well deserved.
  6. Prep the night before. What can you do in advance? Homemade burritos wrapped in foil, overnight oats, pre-made sandwiches, portioned out meals, etc. Set up snacks in pre-portioned amounts, perhaps in a mason jar, and have them ready for your own grab and go. Slice fruit and vegetable sticks for easy snacking.
  7. Montessori Trays. I’m not a subscriber to any particular parenting philosophy, but I have no problem snagging some of their ideas. Montessori teachings are all about being self sufficient and one thing I like are their snack trays. Set up the whole day’s snacks and maybe even lunches ahead of time. Each tray can be labeled with their name and placed within their reach.
  8. Snack tickets. I haven’t tried but love this idea – give kids a few “tickets” for each snack. Once they’re gone, no more snacks. Or, put out all of their snacks on a tray and they can decide when to eat them with no input from you. But, no refills. You have to be strict on this one for a few days until they learn.
  9. No eating at school. Treat the zoom call like school and have good snacks and meals early enough so they aren’t distracting.
  10. Dinner Time Meal Plan. Schedule some dinner wins in your week. Which is your most challenging day? Go easy on yourself and plan a family favorite that easy to prepare that night!
  11. Utensils/Plates – put a kids friendly set of plates, utensils, napkins where kids can reach them so you aren’t constantly on call for this. Also, take a hint from a cocktail party and write names on or tag the glasses for the day. Everyone only needs ONE!
  12. Chore chart. This is all so hard! Time to update the chore chart, set goals and rewards that are truly motivating and exciting, and raise the bar of expectations. Its a new school year after all, the kids are older, it’s time to level up kids.
  13. Go easy on yourself! You do not have to be a pinterest parent. Basic foods, mostly from real ingredients (but viewed weekly, not daily or every meal, and certainly take some prepared short cuts), and things your kids will eat counts as success. My kids eat Mac and Cheese from a box. All the time.

*An Important Disclaimer: I do not have this all figured out! It’s so hard. Some of these tips are my own, that I actually implement but some are ideas for you, especially if your kids are older. 

Did I miss anything? I would LOVE to hear your ideas and successes! Send me a note and let me know so I can add it – or on instagram @endsandstems

Alison Mountford is the Founder and CEO of Ends+Stems, a meal planning service designed to reduce household food waste and stop the effects of climate change. Alison has been named a Rubicon Waste Fit Champion, was a finalist for the Spoon Tech Startup Showcase, and has appeared on many podcasts and radio shows, and works as a food waste consultant.