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    Kate Withington, Blackmoor’s nutritionist, is making it easier for busy parents to plan, prepare and feed their hungry brood by sharing her expert advice alongside a free, five-day meal plan.

    When feeding children, it’s essential to offer a balanced diet so they hit the target of the 40 different nutrients they require daily. This can seem quite a steep task when time-poor parents are juggling everything from work to home life. Kate, a mother of two, understands the demands of everyday life and follows a plan each week to better prepare herself and the household on who is eating what and when.

    Kate begins: “Breakfast is very important as that is what will start your children off for the day. Breakfast consumption in children has been found to improve cognitive function, particularly memory, attention, and executive function. This helps to improve academic performance, including school grades and achievement test scores and increases on-task behaviour in the class. So, it’s a very important meal in my book.”

    Breakfast

    In her meal plan, Kate has given five quick and easy breakfast ideas to keep children fuelled and full of energy for the day. There is a range from Weetabix and a banana, porridge with jam and peanut butter for the extra protein, bagels with berries and fruit smoothies.

    Kate said: “You may be in a rush in the morning to get your children out the door for school but always leave enough time to give them the big breakfast they need. Children are continually growing and will need more food to fuel themselves than adults.

    “When I plan it like this, I can ensure they’re getting a balanced and varied diet. All these meals are quick and easy or can even be batch cooked to make mornings even easier.”

    Lunch/Nutritional Snacks

    Kate continued: “My two don’t have lunch created or organised by me per se, as they currently have school dinners. However, I always make sure they go off for the day with something nutritious as a snack, as school dinners aren’t always healthy.

    “A balanced diet is very important for children, so I always bear that in mind when choosing what snacks to give them. I always send them with at least one piece of fruit and/or vegetables. Lots of parents say to me ‘but they don’t eat them!’ and my reply is always ‘please keep trying!’ as children’s tastebuds change, so keep persisting and one day they may very much like it.

    “I tend to stay away from giving my children any sweets or chocolate as a snack and opt for a fruit yoghurt instead, it gives that sweet kick without providing something too sugary - they have always been a hit with my children.

    “Every child is different and will like different foods, but this is just a basic guide to give you some ideas on what type of foods you should be feeding your children to give them the balanced diet they need.”

    Dinner

    Kate suggested: “When I pick my kids up from school, I am usually busy running around to afterschool clubs or doing homework with them which by that point leaves me with little energy to think about what to make them for dinner. Lately, I will be honest, I have been opting for easy meals like pizza or chicken nuggets – and on occasion, there is nothing wrong with this at all.

    “However, I have come up with some meals that don’t take a lot of time to prepare or options that you can make in batches. So, on busy days you can just throw them in the microwave.

    “Spaghetti bolognese is a great option as you can hide hidden vegetables into your recipe, and it is a great meal for batch cooking. A way I add some hidden vegetables is by grating some carrots, they blend into the bolognese easily and you can’t see they’re in there. I opt for a lentil bolognese as I am vegetarian, however, opt for the meat option if you’re not.

    “Tortilla pizzas are one of my personal favourites as they’re quick, healthy, and the kids love them! All it requires is a wrap, some tomato puree, and your favourite choice of toppings. This meal is also great as the kids can get involved and it is an exciting task for them to take part in. Once the creations are made, just pop them in the oven for 8-10 minutes.

    “Oven food doesn’t have to be frowned upon; my kids love it. I tend to feed them these foods as little as possible, but I always add some vegetables to their plate that they enjoy, so it gives them balance.

    “Cod goujons with wedges and peas is one of my favourites. Every meal doesn’t have to be a fresh home-cooked meal to keep your children on a balanced diet, we all get busy and simple meals are okay.”

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