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Melissa's Musings: Back to School

Updated: Oct 28, 2022

From Dr. Melissa Prest, Foundation Dietitian

It’s a time of transition, summer is turning into fall and kids are back at school. Hot summer days are replaced by cooler breezes, changing leaves, and more sweaters. For families with kids living with kidney disease, home-based meals change to more meals and snacks at school. Navigating the school cafeteria with kidney disease may be a challenge. Stress less! You can successfully navigate school meals while living with kidney disease. Here are some tips for back-to-school success.

Prep and plan

Look at the weekly menu and make your kidney-friendly selections. Go for fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and low-fat milk or yogurt. Skip chips, fries, and chicken strips. Make your plate with more vegetables and less protein. Enjoy fruit for a sweet dessert.

Snack right

Skip the school vending machine and bring your own kidney-friendly snacks. Make a trail mix with some cereal, unsalted pretzels, dried fruit, unsalted nuts, and mini chocolate chips (see below for a kidney-friendly snack mix.) Fruit squeezes are great packable snacks. Clementines and apples are lower in potassium and easy to pack.

Get kids involved

School-aged kids and teens can help in both the planning and the prep! Have them pick out the snacks they want to eat and work together to plan out what meals to choose at school. Here’s a great resource to help guide cooking skills by age.

Contact the school dietitian

Did you know that most school districts have dietitians? Have an open dialogue with your school district dietitian to discuss kidney-friendly food options to have available on the menu.

Munchester Mix

Makes: 8 servings (serving is 1 cup)

Per serving: Calories 200, Protein 3g, Sodium 175g, Potassium 80g, Phosphorus 65g


2 cups puffed rice cereal

2 cups puffed wheat cereal

2 cups mini shredded wheat cereal

1 cup unsalted pretzels (not low sodium)

1 cup unsalted popcorn

1/2 cup margarine or butter

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce


  1. Heat oven to 275F.

  2. Combine the cereals, pretzels, and popcorn.

  3. Melt the butter or margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from burner.

  4. Mix in seasonings and pour flavored butter over cereal mixture.

  5. Pour onto cookie sheet (do not grease)

  6. Bake for 45 minutes.

  7. Allow to cool before serving.

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