“Back to school”. Three words that push fam­i­lies into tem­po­rary mad­ness.

New back­pack, book and sup­ply pur­chases tax fam­ily bud­gets. Clothes shop­ping adds another bur­den on already stressed out par­ents.

The last demand for launch­ing kids back to school might be the sin­gle most sig­nif­i­cant one in terms of A+ per­for­mance.

Appeal­ing break­fast and lunch meals are impor­tant for get­ting stu­dents on track to a good year of learn­ing. How we approach these meals has a broad range of tac­tics.

Past gen­er­a­tions of school kids (ages 612) ate what was put in front of them. The “take it or leave it” mes­sage was enforced to the baby boomers.

Today’s young peo­ple are far more exposed to a vari­ety of foods with vary­ing degrees of nutri­tional value. Many life-​long food habits are formed dur­ing these crit­i­cal years.

The basis for good eat­ing fol­lows what we already know. Focus on real foods; whole grains, fresh veg­eta­bles and fruits, lean pro­teins and low-​fat dairy. Be alert to food aller­gies and avoid processed and sug­ary foods.

Likes and dis­likes are estab­lished by fam­ily behav­iors and meal rou­tines.

Kid friendly foods eas­ily sup­port focus and brain power. School requires sta­mina and energy to get through the day.

Tricks of the parental trade include glam­or­iz­ing foods on the plate to present cheer­ful bites.

Ani­mals with blue­berry eyes or car­rot tails acti­vate inter­est at the table. Food styling and cre­at­ing fun shapes is prob­a­bly not in the wheel­house of most fam­i­lies scram­bling to get to the car­pool or bus on time.

The foods kids love (and good also for them) are attrac­tive enough to stand on their own. Skip the the­atre and opt for pleas­ing them with the best of sea­son tastes. The proof is in the sweet, juicy or crisp fla­vor that fresh pro­duce presents.

With so many com­part­mented con­tain­ers (bento box style) on the mar­ket, it’s afford­able for par­ents to entice with lit­tle effort. A few cubes of cheese, a por­tion of grape toma­toes, a sliced hard boiled egg and car­rot raisin muf­fin will thrill any sec­ond or third grader.

Picky eaters yield to real food that tastes good. Lep­rechauns and elves not required.

To read the full Mar­ket Report, includ­ing this week’s mar­ket update, see below or click here.