There are three types of kids when it comes to school lunches. The ones who pack every day, the ones who buy their lunch every day and the hybrid who does a combination of packing and buying. For those that buy lunches, most school programs ensure a healthy, balanced meal option. For those that pack daily, sometimes there is more of a struggle to ensure a healthy balance. Some parents pack lunches for their children, others allow children to pack for themselves. Here are some ideas to make packing lunches a bit easier for you.
· Pack lunches the night before. This saves you time in the morning when you are rushing to get out of the door on time.
· Include your children in the process. Have your children help choose the items to ensure they will actually eat the foods they choose while at school.
· Buy prepared/pre-cut fruits and veggies or cut a large amount of fruits and veggies up on the weekend and store in containers for the week. Pre-cut foods may cost a little more, but it will save you time when you are busy with other things.
· Store foods in portion sized bags. I love the snack size bags. Once or twice a week, fill several snack size bags with fruits, veggies, healthy snacks, lean protein, and dairy. Buy plastic bins and number them. Have your child take one item from each bin to make a complete lunch. Refill bins as appropriate.
· Incorporate left overs into lunches. Many kids love left-overs and several do not have to be reheated. These can include cool pizza, meat cut into snack sizes, chips and salsa & pasta with pesto or olive oil. When you finish dinner, simply put left-overs into containers that can be easily taken to school the next day.
· Make your own lunchables. Using a plastic container, fill with 4 cupcake liners. Put a fruit in one, a veggie in one, a lean protein in one and a snack in another. Have your children help choose the items to ensure they will actually eat the foods they choose while at school.
· Make home-made ice packs. Buy sponges at the dollar store, dampen with water, put into a sealable plastic bag and put in the freezer. These are very cheap and easy to make and won’t be upset when they disappear “by accident” of course!
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