Insider’s Viewpoint: Lunch Box Makeover
Growing up, I brought a lunch from home almost every day to school from Kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. I’ll also admit my mom was the wonderful woman who packed it for me every single day … that’s a lot of lunches! She also packed lunches for my two siblings.
Every single day we would have a sandwich, a juice box, a fruit cup, and some sort of cracker or bag of chips. Now that I’m a college graduate working in the real world, that’s about the last thing I want to pack myself for lunch – I need a change!
Whether you’re packing a lunch for your kiddos as they go off to school or a work lunch for yourself, think outside the box! This time of year (about half way through the school year), you may find yourself stuck in a rut searching for new ideas for those meals away from home.
4 Tips for Healthy & Tasty Lunch Boxes
- Base Your Meal Off of Fruits & Veggies. Let fruits and vegetables be the first foods you pack! We often pack our fruits and veggies last, and sometimes we even forget them. For those younger kiddos, give them an option between 2 fruits and 2 vegetables to have in their lunch. They like to be in charge, as I’m sure we all know!
- Shop In Season. When thinking of new fruits to include in your meals, check out the all the produce that’s in season. Shopping in season allows for a good variety of fruits and veggies and it’ll be available at a better price.
- Let the Kids Shop! Next time you go to the grocery store, let your children pick out a new and unique fruit or vegetable they would like to try. Maybe it’s a star fruit, a mango, or even jicama. Then when you get home, look up the best way to cut it and give it a try! This is a great learning experience for you and the kids, plus it allows them to try new foods along the way. Put what they like in their lunch boxes. They’ll be sharing with all their friends the new fruits/vegetables they discovered!
- Think Outside the Box. Lastly, when you’re planning the rest of the lunch, think outside the box. A noon-time meal doesn’t have to be anything big. Focus on finding better-for-you foods from each of the 5 food groups.
If you can get your children involved in the process of helping to pack a lunch, kudos to you! It can be a challenge, but kids have great ideas! Let their little creative minds go to work, the meal combinations they conjure up may surprise you!
Amy Peick, RD, LD