How to Make a Power Packed Back-to-School Lunchbox

If you want your child to head out into the new school year with a healthy lunch then planning ahead is the key to your success!  Make sure to encourage “whole and real” foods to get your child’s day started out right. Think about the food groups and plan around them. Always pack a vegetable, a fruit, a whole grain and a protein. 

Try to get your child more interested in nutrition by taking them with you when you go shopping for the food to pack in the lunch box.

Always encourage the child to pick one new fruit or vegetable when available to encourage trying new things. If you need ideas for packing lunch for your child check out brown bag lunch ideas.

When it is time to pack their lunch, get the child involved and teach them to pack their lunch along with you. Keeping the child involved will help create more interest in what they are eating and therefore the lunch will actually be consumed and not returned partially eaten at the end of the school day. Make sure to pack their lunch in the afternoon when you and your child get home. If you wait too long you may be too tired to make good decisions and pack whatever you can find that is quick and easy. These are not always the best, healthiest choices.

Finally, which may be considered the most important rule, always put a meal plan together ahead of time and freeze as many food items as you can. Then decisions are made and there are no last-minute trips to the grocery store for the “infamous” Lunchable.

The following are some tips for lunch box ideas and nutritional education for how to fuel your child during the school year!

Why Is Your Child's Lunch Box Important to You?

  1. Control portion size for health and weight management.
  2. No guessing as to what your child is eating for lunch and knowing they are getting real food as opposed to unidentifiable foods.
  1. The whole family should be getting involved in the kitchen
  2. A great way to get back to basics by eating ‘real food’ and eliminating processed food.
  3. Shop as a team with your kids. Find out what they like rather than what “you” think they should like.

Top 5 Items to Making a Power-Packed Lunch

Make sure your child lunchbox includes foods for the following nutrients: Vitamin D, calcium, high fiber, protein, and antioxidants. 

  • Green vegetables: spinach, kale, broccoli, bok choy, asparagus, green beans, snap peas, broccoli or cauliflower
  • Whole grains/high fiber foods: quinoa, brown rice, chickpeas, lentils, beans, sweet potatoes
  • Low-fat dairy products: kefir, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, milk and chocolate milk
  • Fruit: kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, and apples or blueberries
  • Protein: meat from chicken, fish, turkey lean beef or pork and meat alternatives tofu, hummus, beans or nut spreads

Change the presentation of foods and stop being so boring!

  • Sandwiches can be made on banana bread, zucchini bread, sliced/cored apples, wraps or bagels
  • Make smoothies and freeze them in ice pop molds
  • Use fun mini cutters (compare prices)for slicing vegetables or fruit
  • Use sandwich or cookie cutters for fun shapes
  • Experiment with different kinds of lunch box containers or baggies for your kids to enjoy (monster bags by Wexy or reusable bags)
  • Use a thermos for soups, pastas, or even hot chocolate

Use real food. Learn to use foods that have less than five ingredients. Use whole wheat, whole grain, milk, meat, vegetables, local bakery, or foods that you make from scratch. No fast food, no deep fried food.

Use lunch box notes for kids or motivational tips. You can always just put a nice note on a napkin inside your child’s lunchbox.

Making a lunch box with your child is so important. It show’s you care about your child and it gives them the proper fuel for growth and development, helps control the portions and that you have a solid nutritional value to their meal.

Tools for a Successful Lunchbox

To keep this planning and preparing of school lunches as quick and easy as possible there are a few lunch box items that are a “must” have. These items include

  • Ziplock divided lunch containers or bento-style lunch boxes 
  • thermos bottles and containers 
  • mini round containers
  • smoothie pop molds 
  • ice packs
  • reusable napkins and silverware 
  • reusable sandwich bags  

To carry all this great healthy food in, I recommend a bento kits or Ziploc 3 compartment containers. You can find bento boxes in plastic or stainless and they come included with soft insulated cases with slots to insert your reusable ice pack to keep your food cool.

If you have the needed items handy then you can easily create a wonderful healthy meal for your child to take to school and therefore less stress about the safety or nutritional value of what is in the lunchbox or the alternative from the school lunch.

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