The week or two before school begins we always have plans to pack the most Pinterest-worthy snacks and lunches for our kids. But after a few “Pinterest fails” we get overwhelmed by the amount of time it can take to pack the perfect lunch.
Here’s the thing, “perfect” means something different than what you think. A lunch packed with care and love is exactly what your kids want, no matter how it looks. With some careful planning and a few ideas to get you started, packing healthy and delicious lunches for your kids will be easier than you think.
First, make a list of lunch “staples” that you can rotate through each week:
Fruits:Blueberries, strawberries, oranges, apples, bananas, peaches, pineapple, mangoes and melon
Veggies:Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers
Dairy:Cheese, yogurt, milk and pudding
Whole grains:bread, cereal, pasta, crackers and rice
Protein:Eggs, beans, chicken, nuts, seeds and peanut butter
Next, find ways to include the food groups in FUN ways that aren’t a lot of extra work:
Delicious trail mix:Put together some healthy cereal, nuts, seeds and raisins for a yummy snack to include in your little one’s lunch. You can even add in a spoonful of their favorite candy for a special treat.
DIY bento boxes:There’s a reason that kids love Lunchables – because there are individual items that they get to assemble on their own. So, invest in some containers with multiple dividers and let your little one do the work! Some suggestions include pasta, sauce and cheese; crackers, cheese and sliced lunchmeat; veggies and salad dressing; lettuce, veggies, seeds and dressing; tortilla chips, chicken, salsa, cheese and veggies;
A twist on sandwiches:Instead of just bread, meat and cheese or peanut butter and jelly, try something fun! Roll some cheese and turkey up and include fun sauces. Invest in cookie cutters to make fun sandwich shapes. Consider using flatbreads or tortillas instead of sliced bread.
Breakfast for lunch:Think along the lines of a DIY bento box and send your little one with breakfast for lunch. Make scrambled eggs and include toppings like bacon, salsa and veggies; or may waffles with berries, cinnamon and sugar or syrup to top it off.
Shop smart and pick a handful of items that you can use every day for a week to maximize your spending. Separate lunch items in your fridge and pantry so that you can easily scan your inventory to see what you might be missing.
If lunch food is mixed in with the rest of your pantry ingredients, chances are you’ll be left scrounging to put together a motley assortment of items for lunch. And remember – keeping premade lunches like lunchables or uncrustables is OK too!