Ah, although I have reached Grandma stature I do recall those back to school days when my daughters were in elementary school. Rarely did I hear, “Mom, I’m hungry,” no it was always, “Mom I’m starving!” How could these wee beings pack so much food in, I wondered. They were never overweight or obese, and they ate a huge meal after school. What I learned was that they may not have eaten since lunch, so by the time they got home they were ravenous.

Back to school was very much about food preparation, and having plenty on hand. Luckily, we owned a restaurant in the small town they grew up in, so they often walked over to chow down after school. Unluckily, they brought many friends with them, so we felt like we were feeding half the school for free. Now, how to present our manager with some healthy eating habits for the kids was part of the plan. Yes, they can have calamari, or pizza, or garlic bread, etc. Mind you, all this was homemade so it was great to begin with, but they weren’t having chocolate cannollis, or cheesecake. Usually they would sit at the bar with their friends and eat. The restaurant wasn’t open until dinner time and the lunch crowd was already gone, so it was no big deal. In fact, the employees were coming in getting set up for dinners, and our children learned to set the tables, or spot check for anything missing. They loved it, and it helped work off a bit of the meal they had eaten. By the time we got home they were hungry again for dinner, and I certainly had to have some food ready at home. Really, they ate 2 meals within 3 hours, and I just had to realize that was how it was.

I really learned to make healthy breakfasts, too. Often they had rice and refried beans, or even leftover casserole or chicken from the night before. I was aware that they needed protein, not necessarily cereal and toast. Of course, scrambled eggs with cheese and garlic was great too. Lunches could be leftover pizza, or ½ of a red pepper stuffed with cream cheese. Apples, carrots and celery sticks were popular. One can put so many different things on celery - cream cheese, peanut butter, sliced hard cheese, hummus, and almond butter to name a few. It was a treat if the kids got chips, but they did get a homemade brownie or cookies.

Of course, they got plenty of outdoor exercise, they grew up in the Rockies in a ski resort  town that was much smaller and a closer knit community than now. Maybe that’s why they didn’t become obese. I don’t know, or maybe they didn’t have all the tech gear that doesn’t require aerobics. TV was the evil machine to make sure they weren’t watching too much of.

The whole point is, kids get starving by after school time, and I found the best way to handle it was to prepare ahead of time, and have some great food available for them. It’s amazing how different they become when they have eaten! They can actually do some homework, and do fall asleep sooner than later.