Whether it's your first time making school lunches or the summer wasn't long enough to get a break from packing food daily, you know that kids need to eat a variety of foods to get the nutrition they need to grow.
Here is how you can add variety and simplify the lunch making process without spending an eternity in the kitchen.
- Start with a compartmentalized lunch container.
If you are a beginner and just want to get started, look for a container with three compartments. This way, you have fewer compartments to fill, and each will have their nutritional purpose. The more compartments, the more items you'll need to fill, so start simple.
Not only do kids love "compartments" but a divided container also allows you to separate the "wet" foods from the "dry" foods. Make sure you look for one that is leak proof if you plan on sending things like yogurt or apple sauce.
The largest section will hold the main item. This can be a wrap, a pinwheel (a wrap cut into 1-inch pieces), salad, a sandwich, or even food skewered through a bento-pick.
The second compartment can hold either fruit or veggies, cut into bite sized pieces.
The third and smallest compartment can hold either fruit or veggies if you didn't pack it in the other two, or a dip. A treat can be something as simple as fruit or an energy bite.
- Add Color.
Lunchboxes with a variety of colors and textures have a lot more eye appeal. Colorful (real) foods have a lot of nutrition, so the more you can pack in there, the better.
Add both color and nutrition by packing baby carrots, cut celery, and cherry tomatoes, for example. Other veggies that hold up well in a lunch box are broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, frozen peas, edamame, and sliced cucumbers. Try sending a little hummus or dip with the veggies for more interaction.
Adding fruit to the lunch box is another terrific way to add color. Blueberries, strawberries, apple slices, and kiwi are all great options. Do your kids love watermelon? Send that too, but make sure the compartment is sealed since it tends to release juices.
- Revamp those leftovers!
If it was a winner for dinner it's a winner for lunch.
Leftover grilled chicken can be revamped into an awesome wrap, leftovers from taco night can easily be re-created into a taco salad, and meatballs can either be skewered or sent inside a thermos.
Most parents worry too much about the temperature of the food when in reality, kids rarely eat their food hot! Lunch is as much about socializing with friends as it is about actually eating the food so just make sure you pack the right utensils and you are good to go!
If you don't have the brain power or energy left to come up with a different lunch every day and have been packing a turkey sandwich forever, here are 5 different ways to use up turkey throughout the week that incorporate today's tips.
What do you struggle most when packing a school lunch?
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