Friday, October 14, 2011

How to Pack Healthy Lunches


How to Pack Healthy Lunches 
by Janice Planet

While most kids dread it, parents seem to love back to school time. Back to school means scheduled routines, family sit-down dinners and earlier bedtimes. The beginning of this exciting time can often mean hectic mornings, rushed breakfasts and handfuls of lunch money instead of healthy, homemade lunches. As working parents, it is difficult to find the time to make lunches, as well as to know just exactly what to put in their lunch boxes!

While it is totally fine to let your kids buy lunch every once in awhile, it can quickly turn into a very unhealthy habit. Before our children went to a college prep boarding school, I was dedicated to packing healthy lunches that would fuel and energize them for their long day at school. I know it can be difficult to pack lunches that the kids love and that are good for them, so here are some good ideas on how to pack the perfect, healthy lunches!

The first and most important step in building a better lunch box is to make a big grocery shopping trip and do some prep work! Start by making a list of the basic components of each lunch. Stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean deli meats, whole wheat bread and pitas, condiments, healthy dips like hummus and peanut butter, etc. Buying in bulk will save you a lot of money and extra trips to the grocery store, so it is very smart to do that whenever possible! Once you have all of your groceries, start your prep work. Begin by washing all the fruits and vegetables so that they’re ready to go, and slice vegetables like bell peppers and broccoli into bite size chunks and put them into baggies for easy packing.

When it comes time to pack the lunch, get creative! Instead of packing just an ordinary apple, slice an apple and pack some plain, low-fat yogurt mixed with honey as a sweet dipping sauce. Jazz up cucumber slices and hummus by cutting the cucumber slices with small cookie cutters to make fun shapes, which will make kids excited to eat healthy and fun food!  Whatever you do, each lunch should include fruit, vegetables, a protein source (such as deli meat or peanut butter) and a complex carbohydrate for energy (like whole wheat bread). Packing lunches with creativity in mind will make eating healthy foods a fun activity that kids will enjoy…and actually eat!

Janice might be described as a stay at home mom, but with her family, that is anything but boring! She loves to write about what she knows best, her children and family life.

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