Search icon


19th Aug 2015

Beat the back-to-school menu panic with dietician, Sarah Keogh’s tips

The back-to-school period can seem chaotic.
The easier Summer pace has been replaced by an all-pervading sense of frantic panic – “where’s the other shoe?”, “Oh god it’s PE day!” and “How is it half eight already???” Dietician and mum-of-two, Sarah Keogh has given us her back-to-school tips to keep the family eating well without the stress.We all know that convenience can sometimes lead to bad habits, and with everyone short on time often we reach for the phone to dial a dinner instead of cooking from scratch.Sarah Keogh works with children and adults to improve their eating habits. She also stresses the importance of portion size and how the eating habits of the whole family can affect each child.”If they are overweight, I try to hold the child at that weight until they grow into it. I would intervene quite early. Children shouldn’t have muffin tops… Some researchers would say that you need to be intervening before they’re seven. Not that every child needs to be whippet thin, but if they are gaining and gaining it’s not healthy. A lot of it is snacking and portion size. I see kids eating the same as the daddy. It’s a substantial calorie intake. No parent sets out to make their child overweight, but it’s about training them. It’s about doing it yourself too because children copy what we do. Family eating influences the child more than anything.”
3 Back-to-school breakfasts that will set them up for the day:
1. Porridge – Keogh uses a teaspoon of raspberry jam to tempt her little ones.
2. Wholegrain cereal – Check the nutritional information on the box, 3g fibre per 100g is a good guide, and it’s fortified with Vitamin D that’s an added bonus.
3. Eggs – Sometimes scrambled eggs can be a weird texture for babies, a good way to start them on eggs is to chop a boiled egg with a little butter in a small bowl.
3 Back-to-school lunches to give them energy through the day
1. “Don’t over think it,” says Sarah, “the basic stuff is really healthy stuff.” The humble sandwiches is still a great option. Roast a slightly larger chicken on a Sunday and use the leftovers for sandwiches. Keogh also recommends tuna and tinned salmon with a little mayo and sweetcorn.
2. Hummus is also fantastic with veggie sticks and pita.
3. Fruit or yoghurt is a good choice instead of a treat. “Luckily a lot of schools have a healthy lunch policy, but I really wouldn’t put a treat in on a regular basis, this keeps them from developing a habit of having something sweet at every meal. Try to teach them that fruit can be a sweet treat. Yoghurts are brilliant, there’s been a lot of talk of sugar in yoghurt but I think focus on sugar in the junk, at least in a yoghurt they’re are getting good calcium.”
3 Back-to-school dinner tips to tackle the eternal question: “What’s for dinner?”
1. It is worth batch cooking a few things when you can find a spare hour. Keogh recommends classics like shepherd’s pie or spaghetti Bolognese.
2. “For quick meals, a stir fry is great.” Keogh says a good rule is that at least a third of the plate is veg. A little bit of garlic, ginger and Asian condiments give great flavour. An Asian-style bag of frozen veg can be a lifesaver when in a hurry, no need to pre-boil just add to the pan with the meat and veg. Throw a few nuts in for added bite.
3. Fish is another great speedy supper. This fish parcel recipe couldn’t be more hassle free.
Dietician, Sarah Keogh shares more tips and recipes through