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As many families gear up for another school year, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Registered Dietitian Anna Threadcraft, RDN, LD offers tips to start on the right track.

"The biggest key is to plan ahead," Threadcraft said. "We can't always control the unknowns of a new season, but there are some things we can manage with a little effort to plan ahead."

Food Prep 
Plan for two meals each week that create enough extras to make “planned extra” meals.

For example, if you make spaghetti and salad one night, cook extra lean ground beef to use for soft tacos the next night. Or, if you make baked chicken and brown rice with veggies, cook extra chicken to make open faced chicken sandwiches the next night.

Food Pick Up
Date your grocery store. Threadcraft says to make a plan by creating a grocery list, even if it means writing down needed items on your smart phone so the list is never lost.

"A list saves time, and typically saves money by helping you stick to the things you know you need before you arrive," she said.

Physical activity 
Threadcraft says it is important to make time as a family to be active by taking advantage of weekends, particularly when schedules are often a little more flexible.

"If there are sports games or birthday parties, find ways to incorporate the whole family either before or after the event to get out side," she said. "Move together and share some quality time."

Threadcraft is the director of employee wellness who specializes in providing resources for UAB employees to live healthy and active lives. She frequently appears on local television providing tips on eating healthy, living well and helping to navigate dieting trends.