Wondering what to pack in your kids’ lunch come fall? Okay, so it’s not exactly fall yet, but many of us are sending our darlings to school–soon. If you’re like me and you have a hard time thinking up new and exciting lunches for your kids when they are home with you, then sending them off to school with a brown paperbag filled with healthy, nutritious yummies may be particularly overwhelming. What’s a busy mom to do?
- Get organized. I love the idea of having a lunch packing “station” right next to the fridge. If you have a cupboard that is near the fridge, clear it out and move those items to another location. You are creating a station that will serve you well.
- Get some bins, labels, and markers. Fill ’em up with snacks you know your kid likes. We have “dessert” (yeah, dessert first!) in which I have left-over party favor candy, “salty” (chips, crackers, etc), and “sweet” (yes–it is different than dessert: Teddy Grahams and Bunny Bites).
- I also keep this cabinet stocked with things like Ritz Crackers (for making mini sandwiches), Graham Crackers, pudding cups, fruit cups, Snapeas, Nutrigrain bars, and dried fruit
- And…plastic forks/spoons, individually wrapped Handi-Wipes, containers, bags, baggies, straws, etc.
When I make lunches, everything is right there. And the fridge is close for things like Jelly, Capri Sun, Smooties, and ice packs.
To make your kiddo’s lunch extra-special, consider keeping stickers in your cabinet (save those ones you get from non-profit places in the mail or Highlights magazine). I sometimes pick up a new pack of stickers when I’m out–something I know Kate and Kelly will like (like Toy Story 3 or Care Bears). They can pop the sticker on their shirt and know mommy is thinking about them. For Kate, who’s getting better at reading, I keep a post-it pad in my cabinet so I can scrawl a little note, “Have fun!” or “Love ya!” on it.
But what should they eat??!
- Carrot sticks and ranch dip (look for individual cups of ranch)
- A Ritzwhich or two with turkey, ham, whatever with a slice of cheese
- A Grahamwich with flavored cream cheese
- A shorty thermos with Chicken Noodle soup, Mac ‘N Cheese, Spaghetti-O’s and a side of crackers
- Chocolate covered raisins have a way of meeting the “dessert” and “fruit” needs
- Snapeas (love ’em–look for them in the healthy section/produce of your grocer) is a quick and tasty “veggie” for kids. Also look for veggie chips/straws. Kelly tells me the straws are like “french fries” (ha! She doesn’t know better)
- Cheese sticks, yogurt, and smoothies are a nice way to toss in some meatless protein.
Anyway, have fun with it. Consider taking your kids to the store with you (I know, a headache is already forming) and have them help you select fairly healthy things for their lunch box. Kids really do eat more of what they choose on their own.