Back to School: Lunches

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With school starting soon, many of your lives will become busier and full of scheduled activities.  Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be sharing some tips to help you keep feeding your families nutritious foods during this time.

First stop:  lunch.  Packing a balanced, healthy, and interesting lunch for your kids can be a huge challenge, especially getting them prepared in the morning while serving breakfast and getting everyone out the door.  Here are some tips to help get more fruits and vegetables in your kids’ lunches that hopefully get eaten, too.

-Vary up the sides.  Even the same sandwich seems more interesting if the sides you send are different.  There are tons of different fruits and vegetables you can send.

-Prepare in advance.  I buy big bags of carrots and bunches of celery every week and get them all prepped that same day.  It takes me 15 minutes, start to finish on grocery day.  (See picture above for my finished product.) Then, I only have to grab portions out every morning. As an added bonus, I can serve these veggies in a pinch with dinner, too.

-Try convenience produce if needed.  In the produce section, apples, carrots, blueberries, and many other fruits and vegetables come packed into individual portions already.  You’ll pay more for these items than buying and prepping yourself.  But if that is the only way you can get them into the lunch box, it is worth the price.

-Add a sauce.  Many kids love to dip foods into a sauce.  You can buy individual packages of salad dressing or peanut butter to throw in lunch boxes.  Or buy little reusable containers to send little portions for your tike.  The few extra calories for the dip are not as important as all the nutrients they would miss out on if you skip the produce.

-Try dried fruits and vegetables.  Dried fruits are often sweeter, making them more appealing to kiddos.  Veggie sticks, crisps, and chips abound on the market.  Many of these contain quite a bit of sodium and are not as healthy as regular vegetables.  But they can be a good way to mix up lunch time while still focusing your child’s taste buds on vegetables.

-If you must, try juice.  Juice is not the best way to get your kids fruits and vegetables.  But if that is the only way they’ll eat them, it is better than nothing.  Just make sure it doesn’t have added sugars.  If it is a vegetable juice, check the sodium content.  And again, using juice for variety can make lunch time more interesting for you kids.

Hope this helps!  Happy lunches everyone!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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