If you have more than two kids in different schools at a time, then first: God bless you. Second, you probably know you need a system. Some sort of organization to get you through when the day runs smoothly or not is crucial to your sanity.
Do what works best for you. If you can get up early and prepare lunches, great! If not, doing a little the night before can be a big help the next day when chaos ensues. Individually packaged products are convenient but will cost you more than purchasing in bulk and packaging yourself. Be sure to check the labels on these products. They might contain higher amounts of sodium, sugar or fat than their bulk counterparts.
Once we utilize our time to work for us, it is time to discuss how to keep lunchtime healthy. There are three factors to a successful healthy meal:
Keep healthy foods, not high-fat and high-sugar products, available and accessible. If you must have less than healthy choices, keep them hidden and use sparingly. What kids see is usually what they want. Allow your kids to choose their snacks. This promotes independence and you can teach them about healthy choices as well.
Variety keeps it interesting. Think of the food groups to achieve balance. Use different textures and tastes, including crunchy, soft, savory and sweet. Here are a few options to try:
• Spread waffles or bagels with peanut butter, jelly, sliced apples or bananas.
• Fill flavored tortillas with meat, vegetables and cheese, or a sweeter version with sliced strawberries, raisins and flavored cream cheese.
• Cut cheese and meat into bite-sized pieces and pair with whole-grain crackers or recreate pizza with sliced turkey pepperoni, shredded mozzarella cheese, breadsticks and dipping sauce.
• Stuff a pita with their favorite fillings or top it like a pizza and cut into wedges.
• Cut sliced bread sandwiches into geometric shapes for a different look.
Keep the food safe with a few tips from the safety girl. If you are packing perishable foods, keep the cold ones cold and the hot ones hot. Freezing juice boxes and allowing boiling water to sit in a thermos before adding hot food can help extend the cold or heat insulation. Keep in mind the length of time before your child will eat. It should be less than four hours for perishable foods, especially if they won't be kept cold or hot at school.
Have a great school year.