GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — With the federal program for universal free school lunches over, many parents will go back to making lunches at home for their children. It can be daunting, from coming up with ideas to finding something the kids will actually eat.

Jessi Holden, a registered dietitian, recommends getting the kids involved in the process.

“Something fun that a lot of kids are kind of into these days are kid charcuterie boards — a pizza one could be a whole grain cracker, a slice of mozzarella and turkey pepperoni,” she said.

Holden suggests parents remember the letters PPC when preparing food for their child’s lunch, which stands for protein, produce and carbohydrate. Parents can also have their kids look up ideas, so they are more invested in the lunches they prepare.

Breakfast is another meal schools were able to offer for free universally before the federal program ended.

Holden often turns to overnight oats for a healthy option that is easy to prepare ahead of time.

“Overnight oats are a really good budget-friendly recipe for those busy mornings but more so even to throw together the night prior. You can put it together in under five minutes, and you can make it versatile to everybody in your family,” she said.

Transitioning from school to after-school activities is another challenge for parents who also need to make dinner.

To avoid eating fast-food or pizza multiple times a week, Holden said taking inventory of your pantry is crucial.

“It does take time, so do it now before the school year starts. Look through your freezer and the pantry and make a list of what you have. It is tedious at first, but it pays off because you can actually look that and think, ‘Oh, we have got instant rice, I have got some frozen chicken, I have got frozen vegetables.’ That is a meal. You can throw things together faster,” Holden said.

There are apps that help track grocery lists and inventory, but the notes section of an iPhone or a Google Doc can also be helpful.

Holden relies on slow-cooker meals, one-pot meals or sheet pan meals. She cuts up the meat and produce ahead of time and then throws it into the pot or onto the pan to cook quickly.

This does not mean eating out is off-limits.

“I tell people sometimes to plan on a takeout night, but you can think ahead about what to bring to make it a little healthier. Pack a couple of apples in the back of the car. It will save you money, and you will use the food you have on hand instead of letting it go bad in the fridge,” Holden said.