As the school year begins, it can be easy for parents and students to get overwhelmed with the change from laid-back summer fun to scheduled routine. Something as simple as packing a healthy back-to-school lunch can help to ease the transition for both the parent and the child.
What to Use
The first step to planning a nutritious lunch is to invest in durable, safe, and fun lunch gear. Some of the items you’ll need are:
- An easy-to-clean, well-insulated lunch box
- Toxic free, air-tight containers (preferably with dividers or removable cups to divide up the food)
- Reusable baggies that are dishwasher safe
- A gel ice pack
- A water bottle that is leak proof and well insulated
Purchasing the right gear will save you money, and prevent food from spoiling—which could cause potential illness.
Make a Plan
The next step is to make a plan and get organized. This daunting task can be discouraging, but in the long-run it can save you the last-minute stresses of running to the store or packing something unhealthy. Parents know their children best, so you know how much to pack and what your kiddos will enjoy eating. Set aside an hour on Saturdays to meal plan, and make a grocery list. You can also use a bulletin board to list-out the meals for each week as a reminder. This will help parents stay organized and stress-free with each new school week.
What to Pack
To make veggies more fun to eat, try using veggie cutters to slice them into fun shapes, or add some hummus to dip them in. You can also have some fun creating funny faces with the fruit and veggies by using toothpicks or cookie cutters. Creating variety can also be an easy way to make lunchtime more enjoyable. For example, parents can make their own “lunchables” by using dividers and giving 3-6 different small portions of cheeses, meats, crackers, fruits, and vegetables. Another option would be to create mini kabobs by using long toothpicks and spearing grapes, cucumbers, melon, cubed meat, and cubed cheese. These fun ideas will go a long way in making lunch more fun, and most importantly, more nutritious. To save money and time, you can also use leftovers to make a creative lunch. For example, if you have tacos for dinner, create a taco salad bar lunch. Simply divide up the toppings (such as cubed avocado, diced tomatoes, meat, cheese, and salsa) into containers or muffin cups and your child can build a taco salad at lunch.
Pack, eat, clean, repeat!
At the end of the day, dinner needs to be made, and homework needs to be done. It can be easy to fall behind on packing lunches ahead of time. To ensure everything gets done, create a chore list for yourself and your children to help speed up the process and keep everyone on task. Each family is different, so find out which healthy back-to-school lunch routine works best for you and your family. The most important thing you can do to help your child transition successfully is to help keep them healthy and well-rested. For more information on lunch ideas, visit our Pinterest page at: www.pinterest.com/urgentcarekids/