Make This Year The Best One Yet
Parents, raise your hand if you are ready for school to start! Now, raise your hand if you despise packing school lunches! For some reason, it is one item on my “to-do” list that I absolutely loathe. Our local schools provide great lunches, but there are still days that I need to pack a lunch or two. – (and now three this year, as my baby is starting first grade sob.) But I digress.
Whether we’re ready or not, it’s time to dig out the lunch boxes, and get prepared for another year! Let’s face it, thanks to Pinterest we have moved way beyond the traditional, some may say “boring,” sandwich and chips meal. This helps keep lunch fun for kids, but making sure their lunch is both healthy and something they’ll eat can be a challenge. Here are some tips:
Get your Children Involved
I find when my kids get to make decisions about what they are going to eat and help in the preparation of the meal, the percentage of food that they consume increases dramatically. A definite win-win for me. Now, while I let them be involved in the decision, I do have some guidelines they need to follow. My meal rules are threefold. The meal needs to include: 1) a protein food; 2) a carbohydrate food; and 3) something of color. The kids can get very creative as they try to meet these guidelines.
Think Outside the Lunchbox (pun totally intended)
To meet the guidelines I set for the meals, we may use leftovers, salads, soups, and my kids’ favorite – the kabob. We have purchased really spectacular thermoses that keep food hot until lunch, as well as bento boxes to help keep the items separated (links below to these items).
Making A Well Rounded Meal
Finally, for you ultra-prepared and organized parents out there (not me), you can also work with your kids to make lists of lunches that they like to eat and use that to plan lunches for the week. Shopping on the weekend and meal prepping Sunday night can make the week ahead go a lot smoother.
Below you will find some ideas for each of the requirements in my meal guidelines.
eggs, cheese cubes/slices/string/shredded, chicken or turkey breast, egg, tuna, or chicken salad, yogurt, cottage cheese, low sodium lunch meat.
whole wheat bread/crackers/tortilla/English muffins; pretzels, sun chips.
we prefer fresh or frozen of these items. Try adding them to a salad or kabob or making up a dip with plain Greek yogurt and dry ranch seasoning to enjoy them.
Put it All Together
Some ideas of how we would put this together to make an amazing lunch:
- Make kabobs using toothpicks. Put low sodium ham or turkey, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese (my kids like the mozzarella cheese pearls) on them. Add 4-6 triscuits and a cup of melon or berries and finish off with a small bottle of water or flavored water pouch.
- Try a salad that includes romaine lettuce, baby cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. Add a sliced up hard-boiled egg or diced chicken breast for protein. Finish it off with a side of pretzels or a yogurt. We also add unsalted sunflower seeds to the salad for a healthy fat option.
- Use a whole wheat tortilla and wrap up low sodium turkey breast, diced tomatoes, and an avocado. Slice up a cup of strawberries on the side and add a water. We also like to include a veggie, like baby carrots or peppers, and hummus to add a bit of a crunch to the meal.
I hope everyone has a great first day of school!
Here are the links to the thermos and bento boxes.