Its back to school for many kids across the nation! Which ultimately means it is back to reality for parents! What seems to always be questionable with families is what to pack for lunch!
I know, for myself, even through all my education and personal and professional experience, I still find it a challenge to be sure I am packing not only a nutrition-packed lunch for my kiddos, but also something that is well-liked! The last thought I want on my mind is whether or not they have properly refueled for the remainder of the school day!
So, just what should we be packing? Follow my ABC guide and grab your kids for a supermarket visit that is centered on their school lunch.
A: Appetizing. since they will be picking out the ingredients, it will be appetizing for them!
B: Bold. here I am thinking COLOR!! Although it may be difficult to get the whole rainbow of colors in one lunchbox, think about the weeks worth of lunches you will be packing. Ask your child to choose a variety of bright, bold colors and by weeks end, they will have had a great nutritious week!
C: Crunch. If we are looking for crunch, we are looking at what should be our most abundant part of the meal…fruits and veggies!! Packed with a multitude of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and water, be sure at least one fruit and one veggie is in each lunch!
Put these aforementioned thoughts into motion by sitting with your children and talking about what they like before heading out to the supermarket. You are looking for protein, whole grain, fruits, veggies and dairy. By getting some ideas on paper you will have a better idea of what food items to point out in the store.
Once you have purchased the items you and your children have chosen as a team, it would be a good idea for you to get a plan set up for the week. Naturally this will save you the hassle of determining which items will be packed on which days. Another thought here is to get your children involved in prepacking the lunch. It is always good to prep the night before!
Some of my childrens’ favorites are
Mini-whole wheat bagels, whole grain crackers, whole wheat wraps
all-natural peanut butter, almonds, walnuts, cheese, turkey, hummus (especially my seemingly vegetarian son!)
Green beans, carrots, broccoli, spinach (something my daughter is gradually adding to her sandwiches), cucumbers –don’t be afraid to add the low-fat dips either, especially if that’s the only way you are going to get these amazing foods into their tummies!
Oranges, mango, apples, strawberries, grapes, peaches, dried cranberries, pomegranate arils
Vanilla greek yogurt (especially with diced strawberries!), cheese
At ages 4 and 6, they also enjoy it when I use cookie cutters for their sandwiches as well as the little stickers and love notes I try to include daily! ☺ Just remember to be sure you are packing what they already like, and give yourself peace of mind knowing they are refueling nutritiously! Bon Appétit!