Lunch Box Lowdown

farmers-market-photos

Here’s my lowdown of lunch box tips and tricks. My hope is that putting this post together will motivate me to get back in the game.

Kids love to be in the mix. Whether they help prepare their own lunch (a good life skill, btw) or just help you select things at the store. I know, I know, the thought of grocery shopping solo is a huge fantasy after a summer of “family time” at the grocery store, but it really helps to have take part in the lunchtime plan.

Have your kids pick out a favorite fruit and favorite veggie. This makes life easier, at least for this week. The kids know what to expect, take ownership over their choices and that hopefully means they will eat it…and that means less waste. One less lunch straight into the compost!

Here’s a turkey sandwich, carrots, cinnamon apples and probiotic cocoa snaps (Whole Foods):

1st-day-lunch

Having them tag along on grocery trips with lunches in mind may lead to some surprises. You want sushi rolls in your lunch? I didn’t even know you liked sushi….

When we go to the farmers market I give each of my daughters five bucks and let them pick and purchase produce. You can’t go wrong — it’s fresh, in season and you might discover something new. It also throws a little money/budget lesson into the game.

I’m adding salads to the mix this year. My kids aren’t the biggest salad fans, but I’m trying to gently push them to expand their repertoire. It’s also self-motivated. I figure I can make a shaved raw veggie salad, farro or rice with some chopped fresh veg and toss with a little citrus vinaigrette. This is awesome because we all have lunch covered — scoop for them and one for me!

I always try to make a few extra chicken breasts when that’s on our dinner menu.  The leftovers make easy tacos or chicken sandwiches on baguette for lunch the next day. This is a nice alternative to deli meat.

Especially for lunches, I try to stay on the healthier side of the treat spectrum.  These “healthy cookies” or whole-wheat apple muffins are a nice alternative to bars.

Here you have a chicken sandwich, carrot salad, strawberries and healthy cookie:

lunch-box

 

When you get the monthly school lunch menu have your kids circle all the days they want lunch from school. I think this helps them branch out a little bit and try new things. Also, when it’s decided in advance that is one less thing to talk about as you try to get the coffee in your system and breakfast on the table.

We’re lucky to have a program that sources seasonal ingredients from local farms. I know many schools are moving in the direction of upgrading school lunch offerings, which is a topic near to my heart. Full disclosure – I’m a part of the wellness team at my kids’ school, so I can go on about this topic for a while.

 

Chicken pozole is a school wide favorite.  I usually find a reason to drop by school for this lunch.  Check out those watermelon radishes

Healthy school lunch

 

Instead, we will move to a couple of gross but necessary mentions:

Don’t pack hot with cold. A warm quesadilla mixed with cold fruit with be a schweddy mess.

Smelly lunch box or reusable bag? Give it a soak with baking soda diluted in water and a drop of Dawn soap. Rinse well and then let it dry out in the sunshine or a sunny window.

lunch-box-note

 

Even though we can complain about packing lunches everyday, we know that these days are fleeting and what we’re throwing together at 7:45 am really has a deeper meaning. Growing up, my mom always wrote a note in my lunch. Even if it was just a simple I love you scribbled on a napkin, it made me feel special. I do that now with my girls. I know that no matter what they do or don’t eat, I can do my best to fill them up.

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