The stores are shouting back to school, the air starts to have a slight nip in its evening breeze and the yearning for a life with some sense of structure and rhythm is before us. Summer is fleeting. The long days at the pool and late night BBQ’s drift into our memories and come to an end for another year. We feel the little twinge of letting go as we settle back into another school year.
I always think of the new school year as a new beginning. Many people consider this a time to revamp, recharge and get in gear for a great year with their families, and themselves. Upping the anti in the area of health is a big focus for many families as we start anew.
One of the biggest challenges I hear from parents as we settle back into the fall is: How do I create the every day SCHOOL LUNCH keeping kids happy, healthy and strong?
Don’t fret. It is possible to make lunch box ingredients enticing, nutrient dense and yummy for your kids. You can find your groove; it just might take a little shift in your thinking and a little preparation in your life for the ease to flow this fall.
Your school lunches are never going to be easier, tastier, and more efficient than if you follow these tips below, and, you will also see some great lunch ideas to get you started. You are off to a GREAT start.
1. GO CONTAINER SHOPPING: I know it sounds simple, but having the appropriate carrier makes all the difference in your ease and efficiency.
- The BENTO LUNCH BOX is the perfect set up. It has all the compartments and containers you could want, plus an insulated chiller bag to keep your munchkins lunch fresh.
- OR Buy a variety of small containers that have good lids and fit together well. Those little fingers will be so excited and amazed at what they find inside.
- A WIDE MOUTH THERMOS will save the day. We use it almost daily for leftovers, soups and stews that will nourish the little buddies when they need something warm. They make little mini versions perfect for a young one and easy to manage.
2. CREATE YOUR MENU: I always think in terms of having some easy default plans. You know, the ones where you have to think very little. Find 3 top lunches (check out the list below) that work for you and your kiddo and try to keep as much of that around for a quick and stress free assembly. It does not have to be gourmet, complicated or require a lot of time to be healthy and for your kids to love lunching.
3. THINK IN TERMS OF FOOD GROUPS: A balanced meal is made of 4 building blocks. A protein, a fat, a carbohydrate (in its whole form is best – includes fruit) and a veggie of some kind. If you can think in this formula you will be golden. Need an example? No problem.
- A hard boiled egg of dish of egg salad = protein + fat
(Feel free to include some flax crackers or carrot sticks for dipping)
- A container of strawberries = Carbohydrate
- Left over steamed broccoli = veggie
- BONUS – some nuts and dried fruit for a snack.
4. MAKE A LIST: Being prepared is ALWAYS the best road to success. This is also true in the world of school lunches. Once you get your GO-TO lunches down it is easy breezy, you’ve just got to be prepared. Go to the store EVERY SUNDAY to gather what you need for the week. Then it is a SURE THING. Make your list for the week and don’t forget to include enough ingredients for dinner leftovers – they make the best school lunches.
5. LOVE YOUR LITTLE GUY/GAL: This year, amidst a cold winter dark morning when I had just about had it with school lunches all together, I stood in my kitchen in my cozy bathrobe with my hot cup of morning tea. I stood there blank, empty, and done. “I can’t make another lunch. I am fried.” It took a few mystical moments but soon after my first thought I was flooded with love. Love for my kids, and love and passion for health.
Every school lunch is like a daily practice for me, loving my kids through food and nourishment. So when I totally dry up in the world of creativity, I can dig deep into that well of love, and there it is.
I have made thousands of school lunches at this point. My kids are 17 and 13. They have never eaten lunch from the cafeteria regularly, always homemade. You can do it. Do it for love.
6. TAKE CARE OF SELF: I know we hear it all the time, but sometimes we NEVER REALLY hear it! You have to take care of yourself first. Parenting will drain you. It is joyful and magical, and it is challenging and hard. The only way out of this is to feed yourself, love yourself, and give as much attention to your lunch as you do to theirs.
Keep your cup filled up and you will have more to give. Food is such a primary way we show love to others, and food is such an important way we nourish ourselves.
I have many ideas to share with you. Some have been my go-to’s for years:
- Beef and veggie stew – we pre-make in the crock pot all day on Sundays. Grass fed beef, red potato (or various root veggies), celery, carrot, onion, with beef broth for flavor and spiced + salted to taste. We top it off with kale at the end. Ari takes this in his thermos for days.
- Organic chicken sausage pan-fried with rice, a small container of sauerkraut, and seaweed.
Some favorite lunches are gathered from a potpourri of the other health practitioners in this community. When asked what their kids favorite lunches are here is what they said:
- Black beans and brown rice with chopped veggies simmered in with the beans. Organic corn chips with goat cheese wedges, baby tomatoes and sliced apples! Always a winner w Jackson :) – Erika Anderson, Licensed Acupuncturist, Boulder Sports Acupuncture
- Avocado and tomato salad with olive oil and sea salt. Chicken salad with dried cherries and cashews with flax crackers. Squash fries with dipping sauce. Sofie eats it up every time.– Jessica Emich, Executive chef and co-owner of Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place
- For Sam- a thermos of beans & rice, seaweed, organic apple, a raw red peppers. – Kim Millison, Licensed Acupuncturist.
- Tess loves quinoa, broccoli and crumbled goat cheese. I add cashews, a side of avocado slices and seaweed. – Deb Rubin, Licensed Social Worker (Couples and Parenting specialist)
- Nora's favorite lunches are California rolls- we pre-make rice for the week, add carrots and cucumbers and lots of gomasio, and wrap it up in nori- she loves them. – Kristin Savory, Licensed Acupuncturist, Grow Vibrant.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHES? SHARE WITH US BELOW AND LET'S MAKE LUNCH TIME LOVABLE...