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Healthy Lunches for School Series: Packing Real Food Lunches

Healthy Lunches for School Series: Packing Real Food Lunches

Last we launched our Healthy Lunches for School Series. We started by sharing some of our favorite and simple Packing Tips

Today we will discuss with you Foods to Pack in your Healthy Lunch.

I know what most of you are thinking - the Go Green Family packs the most adorable lunches filled with little pancakes that smile and fruit displays that look like flowers. Unfortunately this is not our reality and it doesn't have to be yours either. 

While I would love to pack "pinterest-worthy" lunches I just don't have the time nor do I think my children care in the least. If your children care and you have the time, then by all means design and jewel and glitter away your lunches. 

But if you are like most of the moms out there just trying to get to school on time, then here we go:

- Have a plan. Know what you are going to put in your lunches ahead of time. Waking up Monday morning with no food in the fridge or snacks available will bring about the worst of you. It is a terrible way to start a week!  We have a chalkboard in our kitchen and I have chart with meals for each day of the week. I find the easiest is to make it open ended but with some direction. 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Leftovers Rice Sandwich Stir Fry Homemade Pizza


- Keep it simple. Your kids don't need fancy lunches. They need the basics - fruits, vegetables and protein are the key food groups. Dairy and grains can be added in if you are choose to eat within those categories. 

- Keep it the same. My kids eat pretty much the same thing every day of the week for the entire year with some slight variations.  We change up the fruit/veggies, along with different types of muffins/granola bars. The overall layout for their lunch is very similar from day to day. Because I use a bento system I know exactly how much food fits in each section and as a result it is really easy to keep things the same. 

- Make foods at home using real ingredients. When you make your own foods you are ensuring that you know exactly what goes into each piece of food. Store bought foods are often filled with additives, food coloring and an array of other artificial ingredients that are not healthy for you or your children (many cause long term health effects that we are still learning about each and every day). Take some time Sunday afternoon (it only takes 1-2 hours) and prep some of your snacks and meals for the week. Hardboil some eggs, bake some muffins, make a pudding, throw together some granola. You will thank yourself later in the week! 

- Pack less than what you think your kids will eat. Even my kids, who eat more food than any other child I have ever met, eat less when they are at school than when they are at home. Distractions from other students, short lunch periods and excitement will keep your kids from eating their entire lunch. Too much food just end up wasted because the foods get soggy, grimy or dirty! Save yourself the headache and heartbreak by packing about 20% less than they normally eat. 

- Post a list of snacks in an an easy to view location (post it note, chalkboard, cork board, etc) so that you always have ideas. 

- Send water! Your kids don't need juice or milk during the day. Most fruits juices are packed with artificial sweeteners and even the ones that are pure fruit juice are not necessary (save those for a treat on a special day). Children are already eating too much sugar in their diet as a whole and can get by with just water at school. Plus often those juices come in wasteful juice boxes with plastic straws (a major drain on our planet!). Get yourself a stainless steel water bottle that will last forever - literally - and fill it with water. This will also eliminate foul smells and sticky messes in your kids lunch bags and back packs. 

Next up in our series we will share a sample menu with you and how to modify according to your own family's needs. We will also share a list of easy snacks to include lunches. 

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