As our summer slowly comes to a close, the Back to School madness begins. Shopping for school supplies, school clothes, shoes, meet the teacher, open houses, after school activities……. and the list goes on. As if there is not enough to do, we are also faced with the inevitable task of actually having to feed our children while they are at school. Does it ever end?? 🙂
Packing a school lunch and snack for your child is the most effective way of ensuring she is being properly nourished throughout the day. It is no secret that school lunches have a long way to go before they can claim the “healthy” label. So in preparation of Back to School time I have compiled my Top 8 Tips for Packing a Healthy School Lunch. I will also be at our local libraries starting in Winter Garden on August 12th at 11:45 discussing Healthy Lunches for Kids. A children’s activity as well as food samples will be provided so bring the little ones and let’s talk lunch. For more locations and times click here.
So let’s get started:
- BALANCE – Pack a well balanced lunch by including a fresh fruit, veggie, whole grain and protein. This will ensure not only a nourishing but also a filling lunch.
- PORTION SIZE – All kids are different, some eat more at breakfast or dinner and some are more hungry at lunch. Talk to your child about the lunch you are sending. Is it enough, are you full after you eat? Is it too much, are you throwing some away? Adjust accordingly to keep your child from being hungry and to keep from wasting food daily.
- LET THEM EAT THE SAME OLD LUNCH– Often we as parents stress over sending the same thing for lunch every day. Variety is great and maybe they shouldn’t get the exact same lunch every day of the school year, but if they are happy w/ PB & J a few times a week then let it be. PB & J on whole grain bread with a fruit and a veggie is actually a healthy meal. So don’t put unnecessary stress on yourself to create a masterpiece every day. Children’s palates are still developing and they don’t crave variety the way that adults do.
- HAVE A VARIETY OF EASY TO PACK FOOD AVAILABLE – Wash and chop veggies and fruits in advance if you can and keep the fridge stocked with carrot sticks, celery sticks, pepper slices, cucumber slices. Grapes and whole apples are a quick way to add in a fruit. Cheese,yogurt and boilded eggs are filling and easy. Keep the pantry stocked with whole grain crackers, nuts, raisins, and trail mixes.
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LEFTOVERS – Freeze leftovers from casseroles, soups and pasta dishes in mason jars for easy access to single serving sizes. Double recipes for the soul purpose of stocking your freezer with healthy lunches. Simply place mason jar in the refrigerator to thaw out the night before you plan on sending it. Heat in the morning and place in a thermos like this one.
- PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE – To save time in the morning be sure to prepare whatever you can the night before. Pull food out of the freezer to thaw, make sure lunch containers and water bottles are washed and ready, wash and chop veggies, make trail mix, boil eggs.
- PACK ENOUGH ICE– Dairy, eggs, smoothie pops, these are all best and safest when kept very cold. One ice pack rarely does the job so be sure to include 2 or 3 ice packs or a large ice blanket such as this one. I personally prefer ice blankets because they are flexible and you can actually wrap it around your food items.
- ADD SOME LOVE – Instead of sending a sweet treat, add a little post it with a personal message or even a sticker or tattoo. You can find free templates online to create your own love notes or choose from a variety of pre-printed cards on Amazon. I just ordered these pre-printed joke cards to send a little laugh in the day and this box of colorful cards and stickers. No matter how you do it our days get hectic and a little “surprise” is a great way to put a smile on your child’s face in the middle of a busy day.