Back to School: Tips for Packing a Nutritious Lunch


Follow this round up of helpful tips and guidelines to keep lunch preperation as stress-free as possible, and also some peace of mind that your healthy, hard work is actually being eaten.


It’s that time of year again, summer is winding down and it’s time to start thinking about getting your kids back to school. Preparing lunches and snacks for your kids is a great way to ensure they will have access to healthy, nutritious food to keep them going through the day. It can seem like a stressful and daunting idea but if you follow some tips and guidelines, it can be fun and easy and you can even include your kids. We won’t be surprised if you even use some of these ideas for yourself!

Preparation is key.

One of the simplest things to ensure lunch making is an easy, fun experience, is doing a load of the work ahead of time. 

•Plan the weeks meals the weekend before.

•Pack whatever you can the night before.

•Peel and chop all the weeks fruit and vegetables at once. All that will be left is portioning and packing them up the night before or in the morning.

•Prepare and freeze favorites. Do the kids like muffins as part of their lunch? Bake a batch, freeze and pull one out to thaw the night before. Are you making a delicious, healthy meal they love for dinner? Double it and freeze the leftovers in single portions. Pull out to thaw the night before.

Tools.

Having the right tools at your disposal helps lunch prep go much smoother, and can even make it fun. Reusable boxes, bags and containers are not only an excellent way to transport food safely and steadily, they can also be super fun with different bright colors and patterns. They can help add excitement to your child's lunch experience! Stock up on supplies this month while some of these amazing featured products are on sale. 

PlanetWise Reusable Bags

Klean Kanteen

Bentology Bento

Lunch Bots Products

Keep Leaf

PackIt Insulated Lunch Bags

Encourage kids to participate.

Getting kids involved in lunch packing is a healthy habit to build. Make lunch planning a part of your weekends together and let kids help in the decision making and prep work.

•Asking your kids what they want in their lunches helps ensure they’ll actually eat what's packed! Give them some options, and let them pick their favorites. If you keep the options healthy, they'll have to pick something healthy, but they'll feel like they had a choice.

•Take them to the co-op and let them pick out a new vegetable or fruit to try in their lunch.

•Let them help with any preparation cooking! Are you making a big batch of pasta salad to go in lunches during the week? Have the kids mix, pour, portion or cut, depending on their age. Letting them do the simplest of tasks helps them feel involved in making their food.

Variety.

When lunch gets dull, it doesn't get eaten. 

•Careful not to get too repetative throughout the week. This can be as simple as packing peanut butter and carrots on the side one day and hummus and bell peppers the next!

•Fill lunch with foods from a variety of food groups. This is fail safe way to provide an intersting lunch. A treat is a great touch, but don’t overdo it or they'll fill up on that first. 

Keep our Back to School Guide on the fridge for inspiration. Find a printed copy in store during August!

Bite Size.

Lunch time is short, and full of distractions. Help ensure your nutritious lunches make their way into your children’s bellies before the bell rings by cutting it up! Convenient, grabbable sticks, cubes and slices are much easier for little hands and mouths.

•Cut meats, cheeses, veggies, fruits into cubes or match sticks for quick and easy eating.

•Worried about apple slices browning? Try the rubber band trick! Slice your apple and simply put the puzzle pieces back together to form a whole apple, and throw a rubber band around the outside to hold the shape!

•Do you have some extra time and tools? Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes out of bread, tortillas, veggies, fruits and cheese.

•Put it on a stick. Using skewers adds a fun and exciting twist to the simplest lunchtime meals.

Salad on a stick

Favorite Greens + Cucumbers + Grape Tomatoes + Olives + Cheese
Pack favorite dressing for dipping

Burger on a stick

Ground Beef or Turkey + Cheese + Lettuce + Pickles + Grape Tomatoes
Pack mustard or ketchup for dipping

BLT on a stick

Bite-sized Bread + Bacon + Lettuce + Grape Tomatoes
Pack ranch dressing for dipping

Breakfast on a stick

Bite-sized Whole Wheat Waffles or Pancakes + Breakfast Sausage + Fresh Fruit
Pack maple syrup for dipping

Dips and Spreads.

Make veggies, fruits, meats, cheese more fun by sending a dip along with lunch. Choose whatever you know your kids like, they'll be much more likely to eat everything!

•Hummus

•Nut Butters or Sunflower butter if the school is nut free

•Cream Cheese - give veggie or strawberry a try. It's easier than you think to make your own!

•Ranch dip - Try Simply Organic's line of dip mixes. Try using greek yogurt instead of sour cream for a healthy twist! 

•Salsa

•Mustard

Creamy Avocado Yogurt Dip

Be sure to check out the huge selection of pre-made dips and spreads in the Linden Hills Co-op Deli.

Snacks.

Providing your children with healthy snack options will keep them away from the highly processed, sugar and sodium filled alternatives. These should always be quick and easy to grab and eat!

•Grab your containers and head to our bulk section to stock up on easy snacks you can portion like, dried fruits, nuts, yogurt pretzels, and granola. You can also make your own snack mix by grabbing ingredients in bulk and combining at home!

•String Cheese from Red Barn or Organic Valley

•Meat Sticks from Grass Run Farms or Ferndale Market

•Fruit, peeled and cut

•Try a snack pack from our deli. Perfectly sized and proptioned snacks typically include cheese and/or meats, fruit, crackers, and pretzels.

 

Need inspiration?

Follow our Back to School Board on Pinterest.

Check out some of our easy school lunch recipes over at our recipes page, or pick up in store!

Visit Lisa Leake's blog 100 Days of Real Food for tons of great kids meal ideas.

 

Most of all, have fun with it. Happy lunching!