The Secret to Healthy Eating During the School Year

{By Samantha Roose}

Walking out of summer and into fall my pace has already begun to quicken.

As I once again get in step with the swing of a new school year I’ve made a lot of schedules, I’ve made a lot of goals, and most importantly, I’ve made a lot of meal plans!  I’ve made meal plans for my family, individuals, friends’ family, myself, and myself again (just in case you can’t tell I like planning :) ).  As I’ve wracked my brain trying to extract from it one last meal, or streamline meals with events and activities of multiple varieties, I have come to learn the importance of meal planning and scheduling on a MUCH broader scale.

I’ve noticed that when I don’t have a meal plan I randomly eat whatever is easiest or sounds the yummiest.  Unfortunately, yummy to me is not always healthy—I love quesadillas with a passion, peanut butter is my chocolate, and toast with cream cheese is my comfort food.  Not only that, I have a ridiculously busy schedule, which takes me out of the house daily for significant amounts of time!

I love my life and I love food, but that’s where the two collide.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says, Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.  Therefore when I do not take care of my body, feed it appropriately and give it rest or exercise, I am destroying God’s temple, which is sacred.  Running around Virginia like a chicken with her head cut off (while loving every minute of it) and scarfing yummy food is not exactly taking care of my body.

I believe God wants us to enjoy food and life but not at the degradation of His temple.

So, how do I enjoy the things God has given me—yummy tasty colorful food and an abundant fast-paced life—while still taking care of the body He has given me?

This is the collision where meal plans and schedules have come to my rescue!  Sitting down and writing my weekly/monthly activities has allowed me to see how I am spending my time and what type of meals I need for each day.  Sometimes I need a fast meal, other times I need a meal to pack, and sometimes I need a sit down meal with my family.  When I know which meals I need I am able to write my meal plan for each day.

By doing this I can still incorporate my favorite meals while still eating a healthy and balanced diet.

I have also found that I am more peaceful.  Instead of constantly thinking about what I am going to be eating or making I know that I have a plan and can focus on what I am doing.

So, how do you make a schedule?

Simply, a schedule is a list of events written on a calendar or timeline.  My suggestion would be this:  Sit down and write out a daily schedule including only what happens every day.

Example – Daily Schedule:                        

  • 6am     up, time with Jesus
  • 7am     run, shower breakfast
  • 8am     family bible time
  • 9am     work
  • 12pm   lunch

Note ~ If you’re a planner like myself it might be wise to estimate about how many hours each activity requires and count them up for each day; include time for eating, getting ready for the day, sleeping, driving…  Essentially, you are making sure they actually fit into a one day period (I will often have 20hr worth of “to do’s” if I don’t exercise this tip—I said I was busy)!

Once that is completed write down each event that you do on a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly basis.  This schedule will help you know what type of meals you need for each day.  As you brainstorm and write ask yourself these questions: Am I you going be eating at home ?…Will there be time after getting home to make dinner?…Is there time to make breakfast before I leave?…

Example – Activity Schedule:

  • Sunday            Church 10-2
  • Monday          Dance 6-9pm
  • Tuesday          Teach Harp 5-6pm
  • Wednesday     Teaching 9am-3pm
  • Thursday        Dance 5-9
  • Friday             Teach Harp 4-5
  • Saturday          Dance 6-10pm

Now that you know what each day looks like it’s time for a meal plan.  Here’s how I do it:  I select 5 different breakfast meals that I like and use those every single week and leave room for creating on the weekends.

Example – Breakfast:

Monday          Oatmeal

Tuesday          Granola and Yogurt

Wednesday     Muffins

Thursday        Toast w/cream cheese

Friday             Smoothies

Then for lunch I will choose to do only things with bread; soup and bread, sandwiches, salad and bread…(You don’t have to choose to have bread with lunch every day, however in my large family we have found this to be simple—I will often find some salad, brown rice, or veggie stick to replace my bread.)

Finally, for dinner I choose a certain food group for each day of the week; Monday – Pasta, Tuesday – Chicken, Wednesday – Hamburger, Thursday – beans/Mexican, Friday – Fish, once again I usually leave the weekends open for creation.  After I’ve assigned a food group to each day I write down four meals that I like for each group.  In this manner although breakfast is the same every week and lunch is very similar dinner is different everyday of the month.  Most importantly, make your meal plan your own with what you like to eat and make and what fits with your schedule.

Now that you have your list of meals and list of events you match everything up.  Monday isn’t stressful so a full dinner is fine.  Tuesday doesn’t get busy until the evening but I can easily make chicken and salad ahead of time and take it with me to eat between lessons.  Wednesday I leave early and come home late so I will make the muffins Tuesday to eat the next morning and pack calzones that I will probably have made on the weekend; I can already have the burgers prepped so all I have to do is bake them and make salad.  Thursday, once again I can pre make the burritos and take them with me if needed.  And Friday, I will make dinner after I get home.

 EXAMPLE:               Breakfast                   Lunch                                     Dinner                      

Sunday                        FUN DAY

Monday                      Oatmeal                       Sandwiches w/Tuna Salad       Spaghetti (salad)

Tuesday                      Granola, yogurt           Bread & Tomato Soup           Salad with Chicken

Wednesday                 Muffins                       Calzones (apple slices)           Hamburgers w/Salad

Thursday                    Toast w/ crm cheese   Bread and Salad                       Burritos

Friday                         Smoothies                   Sandwiches                             Fish and Salad

Saturday                      FUN DAY

So, as you get in step with the rhythm of autumn and falling leaves take the time to write a couple things down and make yourself a plan.  The worst it could do is provide you with a little more peace, show you how much you are accomplishing, reveal how much time you could fill with productive things and help you eat a little bit more balanced.

Take care of the sacred temple of God and enjoy the abundant life full of good food that He has given you!


Disclaimer: all meal plans and schedules are an example and do not belong to any one individual.