Today is Littleman’s first day back to school. We all know what that means, early mornings, rushing around, trying to get the kid/kids to eat, pack the book bag and yes the dreaded packing of the school lunch! This seems like it should be such an easy task, yet one week in, most of us parents are over it– frustrated by trying to come up with healthy ideas of what to put in our kids lunch boxes. At least I know I am. So, I’ve established a few ground rules for myself that make this process a whole lot easier and hopefully will help you out as well. Here they are below:
Rule 1#. Establish what you want to make for the week to have on hand. By this I mean recipes. There are certain recipes that I can make and have on hand that I know my son loves. Having them pre-made takes one more thing off my plate in the mornings.
Rule #2. Always, Always, Always make a grocery list (click here for my helpful grocery list chart). It’s important for me to have a list so I don’t forget anything. Life is to buys to have to keep running back to the store because I forgot something, and if I’m going to make a few recipes to have ready to go I need to make sure I have all of my ingredients.
Rule #3. Meal prep for Dom (that’s my son) like I meal prep for myself. This sort of goes back to Rule #1. I make a few things on Sunday that I can use throughout the week. Things like my homemade meatballs that he loves, quinoa pasta ( I can make a cup or two and use it a few times throughout the week as lunch or dinner instead of having to boil a single serving every time), hard boiled eggs (easy to pack, but also easy to eat in the car if we are running late). I do my meal prepping on Sundays so I’m ready to start the week off right.
Rule #4. His lunch always has 1 fruit and 1 vegetable- that is a must! I know I’m lucky that my son is not a super picky eater. In fact he actually enjoys his healthy food. This does make my life a bit easier, but if you have a picky eater, find what fruits and veggies your child will eat and always have those on hand. Also try to play a game where you let them come to the store and pick out a new vegetable or fruit that they are willing to try. If they are involved in the process they are more likely to enjoy it. Dominic likes, cucumbers, broccoli, spinach salad, carrots (sometimes) and bell peppers (sometimes). So I will rotate these throughout the week. He loves fruit so that’s pretty easy, I can pack any fruit and he will eat it so I try to change it up each day for variety and to make sure he’s getting a lot of different nutrients. Not all fruits and veggies are created equal.
Rule# 5. He always gets a protein source. This one is a bit more tricky. Dom can be picky about his protein. What he likes one day he doesnt always like the next. I do have a few go to’s like my meatballs that he will almost always eat, but again variety is important. He usually enjoys rotisserie chicken but again that is hit or miss, so I give him a little ranch dressing to dip it in. Yes, I let him have things like ranch dressing… not huge sildenafil healthcarewell amounts but sometimes you gotta give a little to get them to eat the healthy stuff. I’ll also mix the protein in to other foods he likes, like ground turkey in pasta sauce and sometimes I’ll even pack a burger that I grilled the night before with a bit of ketchup to dip it in. Hey, whatever works!
Rule #6. I limit his dairy. He’s always had a bit of a hard time digesting dairy so I don’t give it to him very often. The milk he drinks is a blend of unsweetened almond/coconut milk, and the yogurt he has is either coconut yogurt or Greek yogurt. He LOVES cheese, but I only let him have it a few times a week.
Rule #7. Healthy carbs are a must. Kids need carbs. Thats what their brain functions on, and it gives them energy, but they need the right type of carbs. I like to pack sandwiches on Ezekiel bread (sprouted grain), or make quinoa pasta, or pack a little cup of brown rice. Sometimes I’ll even pack mashed sweet potatoes with a little maple syrup and cinnamon.
Rule #8. Always make him feel like he’s getting a treat. Kids want to have something to look forward to in their lunch. Dom knows that if he brings his lunch box home and the “treat” is gone and the healthy food is still there he won’t get a treat the next day. But the “treats” I pack are always the healthiest versions possible. Like raw mixed nuts with a few dark chocolate covered raisins, or a fruit roll up made from 100% real, organic fruit that has just been dried, I also like to bake healthy options like the chick pea brownies or chocolate chip cookies from my cook book FixAte.
Rule #9. Dominic only gets water in his lunch. Only 15% of kids are getting enough water throughout their day, dehydration can lead to fatigue, dizziness, poor concentration and reduced cognitive abilities, affecting our kids’ ability to learn. Did you know your brain is made up of 80% water! So skip the juice boxes and soda and make sure your child is getting plenty of water.
Its all about feeding our kids with the foods that will fuel their little bodies, food that will help them grow, learn and function at optimum levels. Yes, it takes a little more prep work on my part, but he’s worth it.
A few other tips for lunch packing made easier. Make sure you have the right tools for packing a healthy school lunch. Some things I love to use:
- 21 Day Fix Color containers: I like them because they are easy to pack in, travel well, are fun for kids because of the color and yes they let me know I’m packing the appropriate portion size.
- Rubbermaid Lunch Blox
- Easy Lunch Box System
- BPA free water bottle
- Ice Packs
- Different size baggies for packing snacks
Dominic’s first day of school lunch (pictured below): Being that it’s his first day in 1st grade, at a new school, I wanted to make sure he had foods that I know he loves. I don’t want him skipping out on eating the first day. Today Dominic is getting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Ezekiel bread, watermelon (his favorite), cucumbers with a little drizzle of olive oil and salt, mozzarella cheese stick (not every day, but yes first day he can have it), a mini BoBo bar for snack and a few almonds mixed with dark chocolate covered raisins. Seems like a lot of food, but Littleman can eat. He is a super active kid.