Back to school is the most wonderful time of the year, especially for parents who crave the schedule and regularity that the school year brings. But with September comes the reality of making portable lunches for the family every single day.
The task of creating a nutritious lunch that your kids will enjoy can seem daunting, or even impossible, especially while on a tight schedule.
Read on to find practical tips and easy lunch ideas for every day of the week.
Back To School Lunch Tips
1. Meal Preparation
Meal prepping the weekend before a busy school and workweek is a saving grace. Having ready-made snack items like baked goods will make lunch prep that much faster.
All you have to do is make larger portions. For example, make extras of dinners, hard boil a dozen eggs, or make a big portion of hummus.
2. Workaround These Four Components
Include whole grains, a protein source, fruit, and vegetables to make a nutritious and filling lunch. By doing this, you will include a variety of nutrients that your child needs to learn and grow.
3. Involve Your Kids
Preparing any food together as a family provides an opportunity to stay connected, instills a love for healthy eating, and sets the foundation for learning cooking skills.
By allowing your picky eaters to prepare their lunch, they are much more likely to try new foods and eat their lunch. Try offering a variety of options for your kids to pack in their lunch and let them choose what and how much they want to pack. Packing their lunch helps them feel more in charge, empowered, and responsible.
If you're still feeling a bit stumped, here are some ideas for easy and healthy lunches for the whole week:
- Pasta salad with cut up cherry tomatoes and veggies
- A handful of fresh berries
- Pre-made muffins or cookies
- PB&J (with all-natural peanut butter and sliced strawberries) on whole wheat bread
- Cut up whole wheat pita and veggies with hummus
- Apple slices
- Turkey, avocado, lettuce and tomato sandwich on a whole wheat bun
- Whole-grain crackers
- Quinoa salad with cut-up vegetables, dried fruits, and nuts
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Corn chips
- Taco wrap with ground beef or chicken, beans, corn and cut up veggies (salsa on the side for dipping)
- Sliced cucumbers with hummus
- Orange slices
When it comes to drinks, stick with water or calcium-rich milk like cows milk or nut milk. Avoid sodas and fruit juices, as they contain high amounts of sugar and acids that can harm developing teeth.
Most importantly, remember to role model healthy eating for your kids. Kids will notice and begin to imitate your enthusiasm for cooking and eating healthful foods.
Explain to your kids the power of food, and the effect it has on the body and energy levels. Explain the difference between whole foods and processed foods and how each will make your body feel. You might be surprised at the healthy choices your kids make for themselves when they have the knowledge to do so!