Fresh Tips and Time Savers for School Lunches
Create a designated area in your kitchen with lunch packing items – food and drink containers, ziploc bags, wet wipes, utensils, etc.
Have your child review the school lunch calendar for the month and mark the days when he/she would definitely want to take a lunch to school. That will allow you to plan ahead.
Create a menu of different options for the child to pick from. They will be more apt to be excited if they get to make some of the decisions.
Purchase a stainless steel liquid container. These do a great job keeping things warm! In the morning, put very hot/boiling water into the container for a few minutes. Empty and then replace with soup or other hot items.
Make some notes for your children to put into their lunch boxes – it can be "I love you" or a funny joke. Some children are easily embarrassed, so make sure this is OK with them. Other ideas: stickers, zany band (make sure they aren't banned at your child's school) or other small items.
Use muffin cups to separate foods if your lunch box doesn't have separate compartments. Go green! Purchase silicone muffin cups so that they can be reused.
Compartmentalized containers can be purchased at stores like Walmart or Target, or there are many sources online to order traditional Japanese bento boxes. The boxes can be more adult themed for the older child or with all sorts of popular characters such as Disney princesses, Pooh, Pokemon, etc.
Crackers with cheese and/or meat. Healthier options: reduced fat/sodium crackers, light cheese.
Sandwiches with meat (with or without cheese). Healthier options: whole grain bread, bread without high fructose corn syrup, light cheese.
Mini bagels with cream cheese. Healthier option: wheat bagel, reduced-fat cream cheese.
Lettuce with Ranch dressing. Healthier: darker leaf lettuce, light or fat-free Ranch dressing.
Bing cherries (not recommended for younger children because of the pits).
Fruit cups (applesauce, oranges, etc.). Healthier: fruit in its own juice, not containing high fructose corn syrup.
Whole fruit (apple, banana, etc.).
Apple slices (already prepared, or slice your own and sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning).
Grapes (for younger children, be sure to slice the grapes in half).
Nilla wafers with vanilla yogurt. Healthier: low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
Toasted tortilla chips with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled, serve with applesauce. Healthier: wheat tortillas, all-natural applesauce that hasn't been sweetened, use the cinnamon sugar sparingly.
Cut up fruit pieces with vanilla yogurt. Healthier: low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
100-calorie snack bag.
Piece of candy.
Pretzels with chocolate peanut butter.
If your child has a lunch ticket, he/she can still get milk from the school cafeteria.
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