It's that time of year again; back to school time! And that means back to making lunches (probably my least favorite chore, aside from washing dishes). But with a little preparation and creativity, lunch making can be a breeze. Here's how.
5 Steps Easy Steps To Packing A Healthy (Vegan) Lunch Box
Step 1: Menu plan. Sit down and create a week's worth of lunch box ideas with your child(ren), if they're old enough to help. There's nothing worse than packing a lunch you know your kids aren't really going to eat and having it come home at the end of the day untouched.
When it comes to non-food items, select easy to open lunch boxes and containers. For ideas on which brands are best, look here. Test it out on your kids before you send them to school to make sure their little hands can actually open them. There have been many times when I've been volunteering at my kids' schools when I see children who are struggling to open their thermoses because mom sealed it so tightly or they can't peel back the lid to a tupperware container because it wasn't made for small hands. Make it easy on 'em!
Step 2: Write out a grocery list coordinating with your meal plan. Be sure not to leave anything out so you don't have to make extra trips to the grocery store during the middle of the week. Include drinks (although packing a reusable water bottle is ideal), fresh fruits, fresh vegetables that are easily eaten raw, a carbohydrate and a protein. And don't forget the occasional little sweet treat and maybe a note.
Step 3: Organize your kitchen's pantry and 'fridge to accommodate easy lunch box packing. Designate a space in your cupboard or countertop for assembly line style packing. This will help you see when you need to replenish your supply for the following weeks.
Step 4: Prepare. Cut up any vegetables that need chopping (think carrots, celery, zucchini, bell peppers) and keep them in a tupperware container in the 'fridge. These are also great to have on hand for easy after school snacks. Pre-make any homemade dipping sauces like hummus, or any trail mixes (raisins, seeds, nuts, mini chocolate chips). Keep a week's worth of these items stocked for the week so that during the weekdays you save time.
Step 5: Get started! Figure out when you'll have adequate time to pack; either the night before or the morning of. Be sure your child is available to help at that time as well. I recommend packing a fresh fruit item (think easy to eat like a small apple, easy-to-peel orange, or a cut up mango or kiwi fruit), fresh vegetable item (veggie sticks that can be eaten raw are ideal), a carbohydrate like sandwich bread (so many to choose from-think outside the bread box) or whole wheat crackers and pretzels, or cold pasta salad, a protein (think hummus, nut and seed butters, nuts and seeds for trail mix) and a small treat. For the small treat I love to make healthy mini muffins or cookies so that I control what ingredients go into them. A quick hand-written note is a nice touch too!
TIP: Don't forget the utensils! Don't pack your finest silverware, purchase reusable, kid-friendly utensils that you won't fret over if they get lost.
DID YOU KNOW?
Studies show that kids who help with cooking and packing their lunches are much more likely to actually eat and enjoy it.
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