It’s a new school year, and perhaps time to jazz up those brown bag lunches. After all, your kids deserve to eat well, too! See some of our ideas below to keep it fresh, healthy, safe, and yummy.
- Sit down with your kids and make a list of their favorite lunch foods. Use the list as a guide so you have lunch menus that will be kid-approved.
- Involve the kids with grocery shopping so they are involved in the process. Offer them a choice between healthful options like applesauce or grapes and corn chips or popcorn.
- Review the school menu and talk about how to build a healthy meal out of the choices: whole grains, protein, veggies and fruit. Have kids circle the choices on the school menu they like. That way everyone is clear what days to buy and what days the kids will pack lunch.
- Pack snack-sized sandwich baggies with cut-up vegetables. Offer kids a choice by placing several vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, celery and even raisins out on the kitchen counter. Tell them how many items to place in the bag.
- Thread pieces of fruit such as oranges, grapes, strawberries and blueberries onto coffee stirrers.
- Take a whole grain waffle, toast and spread it with peanut or almond butter. Cut it in half and make a sandwich. Place the warm waffle in a baggie. By lunch, the texture will be perfect- soft in the middle and crunchy on the outside.
- Roll sandwich bread flat, add a piece of deli meat and a piece of cheese and roll. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Dipping is always a hit with kids. Instead of a high fat salad dressing, use a packet of dip mix and mix it with 2 cups non-fat plain Greek yogurt.
- Count out whole grain pretzels or corn chips into individual baggies. It’s cheaper to purchase big bags of snacks opposed to individual snack sizes.
- Keep lunch boxes cool. You’ll need a frozen gel pack to keep foods, especially protein items such as cheese, deli meats and tuna, cool. Freeze juice boxes or pouches to keep lunches cool.
- Keep lunch boxes clean. Be sure to wipe out lunch bags and boxes. Wash as you would a plate because food items touch it and things can get sticky.
- Include hand-sanitizer or wipes in your child’s lunch. Statistics show 6 out of 10 children don’t wash hands before eating.
- Be sure to include whole grains: Go beyond regular white bread by selecting pitas, wraps, whole grain crackers or brown rice cakes.
- Ensure your child is getting enough protein. It can be as simple as adding black beans to salsa. Melt cheese on tortilla chips and place in a baggie. Kids can dip the chips into the salsa.
- When it comes to treats, keep it small. Try mini muffins or graham cracker bears.
- Be sure to include a note of praise in your child’s lunch box. It could say anything from “We’ll take a bike ride after dinner” to “I love you.”
- Click here for 21 lunch ideas/recipes from Real Simple.