As one of Australia’s leading dietitians and a mama to six-year-old twin boys, dietician Susie Burrell is an expert when it comes to making healthy food choices for her family.

“Nutrition and healthy eating should be fun and exciting not a chore and the more the family are involved in the food decisions for the household, the happier everyone will be,” explains Susie.

With the new school year approaching, Aussie parents are looking to send their kids back into the classroom fuelled with the confidence to have fun with their friends. New research by Australian Bananas reveals that after lockdowns, homeschooling and holidays, 43% think their child is nervous about returning to school.

Susie Burrell advises planing your weekly meals in advance so your family knows what to expect.

Dietitian Susie Burrell says, “Packing healthy lunches and snacks is so important to keep our kids fuelled with the right energy to concentrate, learn and play all day. After being at home for so long, it’s understandable that parents are looking for a little extra support and inspiration for school lunches.”

“Keeping the kids fuelled is the priority, so you’re looking for foods that are rich in folate, magnesium and vitamin B, such as bananas which help to boost your mood and are a quick and easy lunch box snack that provides all the natural, long-lasting energy kids need to get back out and play,” adds Susie.

Packed full of honest-to-goodness natural energy and a convenient lunchbox essential – Aussie parents can now create their own back-to-school banana by adding handwritten notes to their child’s lunchbox or by printing the downloadable Australian Bananas conversation starters here.

Susie Burrell’s tips for making healthy food choices for your family

1. Get the family involved

Make dinner time a family focused activity by taking some time each week to plan the family meals in advance and write them down on a notice board or whiteboard everyone can see.

This way there is no more asking ‘what’s for dinner’, meal planning becomes automatic and older children can become involved in food preparation.

2. Pack lunches the night before

Early mornings are extremely tough for most families and making lunches only adds more stress to the mix. Taking a few minutes after dinner for family members to start to pack their lunch and snacks for the next day not only frees up more time in the busy mornings but allows the opportunity to pack and prepare healthy, tasty lunches for all members of the family.

3. Switch to nutrient rich eating

Healthy eating is not all about salads and beans, rather simple nutrient rich switches such as white bread to brown, white rice and pasta for veggie based rice and pasta and packet fish and chicken for Omega-3 rich salmon are easy switches the family can make to instantly improve nutritional intake whilst still enjoying family friendly meals.

4. Reach for a banana

Full of magnesium, folate and vitamin B6 – Australian Bananas are a convenient and easy snack.

“My go-to energising foods are rich in Vitamin B. Bananas are a great choice to help boost your mood and regulate your blood glucose levels. At a time when many of us are feeling far from our best and are looking towards a busy few months ahead, making eating well a priority will go a long way in ensuring you have the fuel to do all the things you need,” says Susie.

5. Sit down together to eat

For busy families with different schedules enjoying meals at the same time can be difficult, especially in the week but even if you can only manage to sit down together as a family for dinner once each week make it a big deal.

There is more and more research to show that the simple act of eating together as a family improves social function for children and teens, it improves nutrient intake and promotes healthy eating habits long term. So when you can, prioritise family meal times minus technology and replace it with good old fashioned family banter.

6. Get inspired about cooking

Whether it is trying a new recipe each week, or baking some tasty muffins or banana bread the family can enjoy as a healthy snack for the week, making cooking a fun thing to do as opposed to another chore can transform the way you feel about food preparation at home.

If you are in need of some inspiration, treat yourself to a new cookbook and commit to cook or baking something new each week. Family friendly recipes including fish and chips, pizza and salmon tacos are exceptionally easy to make and can also be prepared by a number of family members so trying new meals becomes a fun and enjoyable part of the week.