Likely you are already beginning to establish a regular routine since the summer break; but just in case the back-to-school and off-to-soccer-practice flutter still has you spinning, I’m here to provide you with some tips to help you reclaim that lunch-packing confidence.
- Plan ahead – Weekly meal (and lunch) planning is a surefire way to ease in to the process of packing healthy lunches. Sit down with your family and discuss options they may want to have that week. Whole Foods Market has a variety of meal starter kits available in the produce section to make dinner preparation both easy and delicious. Plan to use leftovers as well — they can be made into a super fast healthy lunch the next day.
- Stick to that grocery list – I know, easier said than done but sticking to your list can help keep you from impulse buys that are often have a lot more fat and sugar than the “good stuff” on your list. And don’t shop hungry!
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold – One thing often overlooked by busy parents is maintaining the safety of the food you send off with your family or take to work for yourself. By using either a thermos or an ice pack, you can help keep food at a safe temperature. Some lunch-box sets even include ice packs that fit right inside. If you don’t have either of those options, think about lunching on options that are less temperature sensitive like hummus, veggies, crackers, nut butters, fruits, trail mix and granola.
- Create your own “pre packs” – Take a few minutes to wash, prep and chop fresh fruits and veggies when you get home from the grocery store (or during lull in the weekend). Packing them in individual bags or containers can also help make the morning rush less chaotic. Having individual servings prepared can also be a great option for after-school snacks. The kids can just grab and munch. Also, think about prepping single servings of crackers, granola and trail mix as well.
- Healthy hydration – Avoid the urge to throw sugary sodas and juice boxes into your child’s lunchbox. Instead, prepare fruit water with sliced lemons, limes or oranges and pour it into a reusable water bottle. Another fun idea would be to cold-brewed herbal teas.
- Dare to be different – Remember, your lunch doesn’t have to look like everyone elses. Of course, the classic sandwich, chips and fruit option is fine on occasion but embrace your inner health nut and go for the brown rice, grilled tofu, seaweed salad and fresh pineapple packed up in one of our Laptop Lunchboxes. It’s just as easy and delicious as a sandwich. Your brave (and delicious) lunch might even motivate someone else to start eating healthier.
Find lots of healthy options for lunch (and breakfast and dinner, too) in our Health Starts Here® recipes that celebrate naturally flavorful whole foods.
What do you do to help you and your kids stick to healthier lunch options? Share them in the comments below.