Back to school means schedule changes, early mornings, organizing pick-ups and drop-offs. But also on that list comes packing school lunches, every day or most days. With a little planning and preparation on weekends you can de-stress this task and make mornings more manageable. Here are my tips!
- Plan Ahead: Set a menu for the week just as you would for family dinners. Prep fruits and vegetables after returning home from the store so they are easy to pack up or for the kids to grab as they pack up their own lunches. This will give your mornings flexibility as you are not rushing to get breakfast AND lunch ready for the day.
- Think about the different food groups and adding color to their plates: Lean Protein, Low-fat Dairy, Grain, Vegetable, Fruit, and a healthy fat. (e.i.: diced grilled chicken, whole grain pasta w/a little butter, cherry tomatoes, and green grapes)
- Keep them hydrated with healthy drinks like water, low-fat milk, low-sugar milk alternative (almond or soymilk) or the occasional 100% juice box
- Include your Kids: Research shows when kids are a part of preparation; they are more likely to try some new. Encourage them to pick out a fruit or vegetable while grocery shopping or to add to the grocery list. If possible, ask them to come in the kitchen to help clean and prep their food.
- Make it Fun: Jazz up lunch by cutting fruits and vegetables into creative shapes. Think of a creative way to make your child’s sandwich. (ei: making a skewer instead of a sandwich) Depending on the age of the child, make sure that your portions are appropriate. Kindergarteners are more apt to eat a sandwich if it’s cut into fourths instead of halves.
- Introduce Change: Slowly! Maybe your little one is not very adventurous when it comes to trying new foods or the same food but cooked in a different way. Try for one change per month. It will add up over the course of the school year!
- Don’t get Discouraged: If your kid is the one swapping strawberries for Cheetos, don’t be discouraged. Continue to look for new recipes that include ingredients that your child likes to offer them some variety. Offer your child a choice when packing lunch – would you like a cheese stick or almonds – but don’t offer too many otherwise it can become overwhelming.
- Wrap it up with LOVE: place a small note, card, or encouraging saying in their lunch to give them a little boost throughout their day!
Need some good recipes or creative lunch ideas? Check out:
What creative lunch ideas have you done that your kids love? Let us know!