Wednesday, August 16, 2017

5 Tips that Will Make or Break School Lunches

For us, school is starting next week. And I will, for the first time, have two children taking lunches to school. While I am excited to get back in to the schedule that school provides, I'm not as excited about making lunches every. single. day. I thought I'd revisit our book The Mix and Match Lunchbox and give you 5 tips that make or break having a healthy, easy lunch for your kiddos.

1. Plan Ahead

You know how this works with dinnertime. If you plan what dinner is earlier in the day, dinner happens. If you don't, you end up throwing together whatever you have. And sometimes that works better than others.

A planning page in The Mix and Match Lunchbox

The same thing goes for school lunches. If you sit down on Saturday or Sunday and make a small menu, then you know what to buy. You'll see if there are things you can or should make ahead of time.

2. Think about the Parts of Lunch

We like to do this with a simple formula:

Whole Grain + Protein + Fruit + Veggie

This makes lunch so customizable! And if you make a list of items for each section, your child can even make lunch themselves. For a younger child, you might make a PBJ the whole grain and protein, while for an older child, you might need a separate protein to keep them full for school.

But if you fill this formula, you have a complete, healthy lunch! I would also include water and, on special occasions, a treat.

3. Make Recipes Ahead

It can be hard to have everything on hand for a good lunch. But if you make one thing ahead of time in bulk and freeze in individual bags, it makes it that much simpler on a busy morning when you have less than five minutes to make lunches. We like muffins, smoothies, homemade granola bars, quiches, and boiled eggs.

4. Get the Kids to Help

Is this all your job? Well, kind of. But it doesn't have to be. What can the kids do? Can they have a say in the planning? (With guidelines, of course.) Can you assign your budding cook a make-ahead recipe? Or just keep a list of things in each healthy section (grain, protein, fruit, and veggie) and let them pick from bins of each category.

The truth with kids is, if they pick it, they will be more likely to eat it.

Yogurt and mix-ins are always a hit at our house.

5. Make it Fun!

For some parents this might include cutting food into cute little shapes. If that's you, than go for it! I feel good when I slip in a little note. This could be a compliment, a love note, or a joke or fun fact.

But cute supplies go a long way. Consider a pack of food picks, some cookie cutters, or bright silicone cupcake liners.Those could be just the trick for adding some happiness to your child's lunch!

Extra Credit :)

Do you need more help to get your lunches going? Check out our book The Mix and Match Lunchbox book or the Mix and Match app for over 27,000 delicious lunch combinations!

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