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It’s almost time to transition to your back-to-school routine! Back-to-school lunches are essential for ensuring the kids are fueled to function at their best throughout the school day. However, packing lunches is a ritual that can become tedious. Start the school year stress-free with our lunch-packing tips and make the kids smile by transforming boring brown-bag lunches into meals that are fun and exciting!
Make the morning rush a little easier by incorporating these lunch-packing tips into your daily routine:
Write a Master Lunch List
Create a go-to list of your kids’ favorite lunch components. Organize it with categories such as protein, fruits and veggies, fiber and whole grains. This will make it easy to mix and match items from different sections to ensure the little ones are eating a balanced meal.
Leverage Your Leftovers
When choosing what to make for dinner, consider what meals may work well for lunches. A hot pasta dinner entrée can become a cold pasta salad for lunch. And leftover rice or veggies can be combined for a nourishing bowl topped with chicken, nuts and cheeses.
Pack the Night Before
If you’re able, try to prep lunch components earlier in the week and store them in the freezer or refrigerator. Then, pop these ready-made items into the lunchbox the night before, and you’ll have one less task to worry about in the morning.
Inventive Lunch Ideas
Increase the appeal of proteins, fruits and veggies by serving them up on a stick! Skewers are perfect for lunches as they’re easy to prepare and make eating fun for kids. Pair them with dipping sauces or dressings to make them even more interactive.
Add variety to this lunchbox staple by updating the classics with mash-ups of two kid favorites like a pizza grilled cheese. If the kids insist on eating their beloved PB&J, change things up by flattening the bread and rolling it up for a whole new sandwich experience. You can also cut traditional sandwiches with cookie cutters using various shapes that speak to the kids’ personalities and hobbies such as butterflies, trains, hearts or dogs.
Kids are more likely to eat their lunch when they only have to open one container. Experiment with bento boxes (properly portioned, home-packed meals originating in Japan) that allow you to separate proteins, fruits, veggies and sauces into organized, kid-friendly compartments.
These tasty lunches may keep the kids full until they get home, but then they’re hungry for after-school snacks! When the kids get home, have some snacks handy or whip up some simple, satisfying bites that will hold them over until dinnertime. Be ready with a chocolaty-orange smoothie or a combination of fresh fruit, cheese and crackers. Or, whip up quick, easy and nutritious super guacamole that can be enjoyed with veggies, pretzels or pita chips.
Keep these back-to-school tips in mind to start the school year out right and keep the kids nourished and focused. Happy packing!