Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back-to-school: Packing lunches made easy

I am relishing the last few days of August before the crazy rush of school mornings starts. Packing lunches has never been a favorite task of mine but there are a few things that can ease the morning crunch.
1) Pre-pack. Rather than packing snacks in containers every morning, make Sunday evening a "snack-packing party." Kids can get involved in filling re-usable containers with different snacks. Some easy snacks to pack: pretzels, crackers, popcorn, rice cakes, mixed nuts or trail mix, and snapea crisps. For refrigerated snacks that can be pre-packaged: baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, celery sticks, and jicama sticks. Dips include: ranch dressing or nut/sunflower seed butter depending on the snack. Different snacks are now ready to go each morning.
2) Let kids make choices: Kids (and parents) can make a list of favorite healthy foods on a piece of paper or the kitchen white board. By shopping together for the foods on the list,  kids will feel more invested in their lunch choices.
3) Think outside the square: Are you and your kids tired of sandwiches?  Alternatives include ham and crackers, cheese stick with a slice of bread on the side, turkey and salad wraps, or warm foods like mac and cheese  packed in a small thermos bottle. Dream up some creations and name them - then they can become part of a rotating menu.