Heading back to school is filled with plenty of things to worry about… school supplies, clothes, paperwork, medical records… the list seems endless. Nevermind school lunches. As if the debate between brown bagging it or buying lunch at school wasn’t enough, adorable animal-themed Bento boxes have seemingly consumed Pinterest-lovers everywhere. While your child would no doubt love a differently themed lunch every day, let’s be honest – who has the time (or the drawer of kitchen gadgets) to make that a reality? So instead, let’s just call it what it is from day one and agree that a quick, healthy approach to lunch is the way to go. Here are # ways to make it happen:
#1 – Taco Bar – Most kids love tacos, thanks to getting to play with their food and plain deliciousness. For parents, even better than the likelihood they’ll get eaten is the sheer easiness of packing that lunch, not to mention that we get to sneak in some veggies. Make use of those bento boxes or simply line up the ingredients neatly in one larger container – anything goes. Remember the whole wheat tortilla and don’t forget to add in healthy ingredients, like tomatoes and avocado (avoid browning by adding a bit of lemon juice or simply leaving the pit in). Add a side of beans and call it a day – it’s a lunch you can pack using last night’s leftover meat and pulling everything else together in less than five minutes.
#2 – Lunchables – It’s hard to pass up the convenience of those little pre-packaged beauties in the refrigerated section, but between the cost and the sodium and sugar levels, it’s best to just keep walking. Instead, take five minutes and make your own at home for a fraction of the price. Instead of the Ritz crackers, swap in a whole grain cracker. Use a low-sodium meat or, even better, skip the deli counter and use rotisserie chicken or turkey breast. Add in some tomato and cucumber slices to sneak a vegetable in, then swap the sugary drink for milk. It’s an easy make over that you can put together in just a few minutes – and it’s still fun for your child to play with come lunch time.
#3 – Tapas – Small plates are fun for everyone, and while you may feel a bit random packing them for your child, it’s an easy way to give them a variety of healthy options that create a rounded meal in a fun way. Pop in some olives and wheat crackers or a small amount of pasta salad, then add in some cheese cubes and protein option (last night’s leftovers work beautifully). Veggies and hummus round it out easily and healthily. The best thing is that you can make the lunch in full using what you already have prepared in your fridge – but by repackaging it in small quantities, it becomes fun!
Making lunch fun doesn’t need to include 50 cookie cutters and specialty containers. Instead, look for ways to use what you already have and instead make the delivery method something your child can “play” with – in an approved way.
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