I am trying to prepare myself mentally and financially for going back to school, including spending less time with the kids, new clothes, fall sports and having to pack a lunch for the kids every day.
Our friends at Shaw’s offer tips and suggestions on how to make back to school lunches fun, affordable and most importantly, healthy.
Involve The Kids!
- Let the kids choose some options at the grocery store for their lunches (within reason). Kids are more likely to eat foods if they’ve been involved in selecting them.
- Let your kids participate in the creation of their lunch (i.e. make homemade trail mix with dried fruit and nuts or make homemade granola bars).
- Kids will feel that they’re playing an important role when they’re involved in packing their lunch – and it’s less likely to end up in the trash.
- Let your child choose a new fruit or vegetable they haven’t tried before – for example, a colorful pomegranate or star fruit.
- Make sure lunch is balanced. The new USDA food icon recommends half your plate be full of fruits and veggies, ¼ protein, ¼ whole grains, 1 dairy serving
Make sure every food group is being met.
- Get a cool lunchbox. Kids will be excited to eat lunch if they’ve got a hip lunch bag/box.
- Choose a Rainbow of Color. Choose a different color each week (maybe month) and pack based on that (i.e. if September is red try for new fruit that resembles that color like watermelon, strawberries etc.)
- Serving fruit? Cut it up, there’s a better chance the kids will eat it – apples, pears, peaches, etc
What to Pack?
- Mini Pizzas – Your kid will be the envy of the lunch table when they whip out a nutritious pizza for lunch! Try adding marinara sauce with a sprinkle of cheese to a whole grain English muffin; warm in oven, let cool and it’s ready to wrap and pack
- Quesadilla – Add anything leftover from last night’s dinner! Cheese, veggies, grilled chicken. Pack with a a chunky veggie salsa.
- Switch Up The Spreads – Instead of using mayonnaise, try light pesto or hummus on your kid’s sandwiches – they taste just as great with half the fat.
- Pita Pockets – Instead of using bread to “sandwich” their meals together, switch it out with whole grain pita pockets – they’re fun to hold and portable! Pack the pita separate from the contents so it doesn’t get soggy.
- Pin-wheels – Another fun spin on a sandwich is to create a variety of healthy wraps (think turkey, hummus and avocado) – to make the wrap extra enticing, cut it into small bite-size pin wheels. Also try whole-wheat wrap pin-wheels with peanut butter and apple slices.
- Pasta – Kids love pasta – choose whole grain varieties! Pack it for lunch with marinara sauce + parmesan cheese.
- It’s All About Shapes – Let’s face it, kid’s love playing with their food, so why not make it fun for them? Try cutting their favorite sandwiches in various shapes (i.e. circles, triangles, etc.) – use large cookie cutters to get even more adventures with the shapes (i.e. dinosaurs or hearts).
Snacks in the Lunchbox or After School Snacks
- Fruit Kabobs – Cut up fruit into bite size pieces and put on a tooth pick or popsicle stick for a colorful lunch addition. Serve with honey or peanut butter to dip.
- Cheese & fruit on a stick in different shapes.
- Veggie Trees – with hummus, salsa and/or sour cream.
- Sweet potato fries
- Apple slices + yogurt dip – Make dip with light vanilla yogurt, peanut butter, cinnamon and raisins.
- Smoothie – Chocolate milk + frozen banana + peanut butter OR frozen strawberries + vanilla yogurt + soy milk.
Shea’s passion for health and wellness has led her to positions as nutrition and fitness consultant, nutrition expert and counselor, health educator and public speaker. She has worked with groups ranging in size from 1-200+ in both community and corporate environments. Shea is a source for local and national TV, radio, online and print media.
Jennifer currently resides in Boston, MA and is a long-time native to New England. In her free moments, she enjoys spending time outside running, hiking, relaxing at the beach, cooking, learning about food and wine, boutique shopping, listening to music and traveling. Shea has completed 9 marathons and countless half marathons around the New England area.