How to Ensure A Successful Year of Packing Healthy School Lunches
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I have to first admit something. I am not the school lunch maker in our home. That is my husband’s job. I’m not sure if it’s a job I subconsciously put on him (since my dad was the lunch maker in our home growing up), or if it’s something he enjoys doing. I think a little bit of both.
This year we have four kids in school. The older two kids go 5 days a week and the younger two kids go to school 2 days a week. There is a lot of lunch making going on in our home. Hubby makes the school lunches before he leaves for work in the mornings. He leaves very early, so this is all done before any of us wake up.
We are both working parents, so our motto is “Keep It Simple,” without ever compromising our priority to feed our children healthy nutritious meals. I know a lot of parents feel like they don’t have the time to pack healthy school lunches every day, so hopefully this post can encourage you to give it a try. And stick with it. A healthy home packed school lunch is the absolute best way to give your children proper nutrition during the school year. Cafeteria food cannot compare.
I sat my hubby down to ask him for his tips on ensuring a successful year of packing school lunches.
- Keep it simple. I often see pictures of home packed school lunches on different websites, and they are very fancy & look very involved. If I thought I had to pack school lunches that looked like that, I too would feel like I didn’t have time. My husband says: “Kids are simple.” They just want a healthy lunch that consists of the stuff they know and like to eat. Healthy does not have to mean complicated.
- Pack stuff you know the kids are going to eat. Trying new foods or ideas on your kids in a packed school lunch is not the best idea. Stick with what they know. A lot of times if we are introducing a new food that is not typically in their lunch we will tell the kids. Mid-way through last school year, we started making a lot of hardboiled eggs. The kids loved them, so we started packing them in their lunches. First though, we tried it at home and then let the kids know that we were going to start putting them in their lunch. That way they know what to expect.
- Choose items that don’t require tons of preparation. You can still give your children healthy foods without involving a lot of prep work. Take fruit: If you do not feel like you have time to cut up fresh fruit (mangos, pineapples, kiwis, etc..) then get fruit that only involves rinsing. We love to do blueberries, raspberries, & grapes as our easy-fruit options for school lunches.
- Make sure you have what you need. My husband has a white board on the fridge where he will jot down different food items that we are running low on. That way we know to get them before we run out. The worst is going to make 4 sandwiches in the morning, only to realize you only have enough bread to make 3 sandwiches.
- Personalize it. My dad started this fun tradition and I love that it has been passed down to my kids. My dad used to decorate our brown paper bags by writing our names in very creative ways or with drawings or notes or Bible verses. (Remember brown paper bags back in the day?). My husband puts a sweet note or picture inside the kids’ lunch boxes. It only takes seconds to write “I love you” on a piece of paper and slip it in with the lunch. Kids love this. Last year, we got a note home from my daughter’s teacher. It said that she found our daughter crying during lunch and when she asked why, our daughter told her: “They are happy tears. My daddy wrote me the sweetest note today.” This simple gesture not only touched our daughter, but touched our daughter’s teacher as well.
I read somewhere: “Think outside the sandwich.” I think this is a good saying when thinking of packing a school lunch. I recently did a post titled Healthy School Snacks, where I listed our Top 10 favorite healthy school snacks. All very easy to prepare and typically found in our children’s lunch boxes. I also feel that these Healthy Snack suggestions, can also be combined to make a very nutritious lunch. Pita & humus, with a hardboiled egg, yogurt, nuts, & fresh fruit are all great snacks, but together also serve as an excellent lunch. You can find some additional ideas for healthy lunches here.
Our priority is always making sure the school lunch consists of nutritious living foods. Many children’s snack & food items today consist of nutritionally void, overly processed, dead foods. With a little extra effort, we can offer our children so much more!
Packing school lunches requires my husband to wake up earlier. It also requires diligent planning and multiple trips to the grocery store. But my husband says the satisfaction of knowing the children are eating a healthy nutritious lunch at school is well worth it.
Do you have a tip to share for packing school lunches? Is there a favorite healthy school lunch item in your home?
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