School is back in session and routines aren’t quite the same this year as they have been in years past. Many of us are still working from home as our kids may be either going back into the classroom or learning virtually from home.
New challenges with making sure everyone is eating lunch and snacking healthfully seems to be the question of the day. Like many parents, you might be struggling with different lunchtimes not just for the kiddos but for you as well.
So, what can you do when you have a meeting scheduled at the same time your child has their lunch period? Let’s reinvent the brown bag lunch for you and your family.
If you’ve read my blog before, you’re familiar with my belief that you should take your children shopping with you so that they can pick out some foods they enjoy having for lunch. Make sure they pick something from the produce aisle first. When kids help to plan or even make their own lunches, they’re more likely to happily eat them.
Spend some time on Sunday afternoon or evening doing some prep work just like you would do for quick easy dinners during the week. The trick here is to make sure there’s something for everyone and it’s easy for them to grab and eat.
Here are some ideas to get you started!
Make and freeze ahead of time. Things like nut butters with jelly, turkey, chicken, or roast beef with cheese work really well. Spread your mayo, mustard, hummus, or avocado spread on the sandwich, cut and place in a sealable freezer bag. Leave the lettuce in the fridge pre-rinsed and in an airtight container and slice up tomatoes and put them in an airtight container on the counter. Take the frozen sandwich out of the fridge first thing in the morning and leave it on the counter or pack it up for those going to the physical classroom. It’ll be defrosted by lunch time and won’t be soggy.
I love leaving fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter so you can just grab a piece and go. For younger children, apple slices, grapes, and orange slices are a great option. Place them in little baggies or easy-open containers in the fridge. (For apple slices, squeeze just a little bit of lemon on them to keep from browning.) Pre-packaged fruits are great as well, just be sure to get ones that are packed in natural juices or water and have no added sugars. Make sure to pack it up for those heading out for the day.
Veggies and Dips
Remember kids need to get at least 5 servings of veggies per day. Dips are a great way to get them to eat their veggies. You can easily make hummus or a yogurt dip that will last a week in your fridge. And, you can portion it out in small containers for ease. Have your kids pick their favorite veggies to dip (sliced cucumber, baby tomato, celery, carrots, or red bell peppers). Many kids like to eat their veggies with ranch dressing. Try to find one that is low in sodium and sugar. The key here is the fewer the ingredients the better.
For You and Older Kids at Home
Last night’s leftovers are great to reheat in the microwave for a quick and easy lunch. If you or the older ones have the same lunch time as the younger kids, heat some up for them as well. Things like leftover chili, pasta, chicken, and soups are great lunches. Remember, you need to eat your fruits and veggies too. You can also pre-make tuna or egg salad to put over some greens, place in a sandwich, or a whole wheat pita for a tasty and easy lunch.
Make sure there’s plenty of bottled water or easy-open juice packs that are low in sugar in your fridge so your kids can grab them and stay hydrated throughout the day.
The whole idea here is ease. It might take some time to prepare ahead, but it will make your week easier in the end. You can make the prep work a family affair by creating an assembly line and having everyone do part of the job.
I hope these suggestions help your family eat healthfully, and I’m wishing you a great start to the school year!