August is almost over, which means if you have kids at home you have started packing lunches every day. This can sometimes feel like a repetitive chore, but with a little prep, help from the kids, and a positive mindset, it can be a little more fun. Here are 7 ideas to alleviate the stress of back-to-school lunch packing:
- Include the kids
First, and in my opinion most important, include the kids! Have your kids help, and eventually they will be packing their own lunches. This lets them know that their opinions on what they are eating matters, helps them establish independence, and is a great time to teach them about nutrition. Use the packing time to talk about what foods are higher in protein and will keep them full or what foods are full of vitamins or antioxidants and will help their brains. Taking the extra time early on to teach them about what goes into a nutritious lunch will impact them for the REST OF THEIR LIVES! And as they grow so will their independence, ultimately, taking lunch prep off your plate.
- Prep at the beginning of the week
Before the week starts, cut up fresh fruits and vegetables so they are easy to add to your child’s lunchbox. (Have your kids help with this- meal prepping may start out slow as you teach them but will get quicker and quicker as they learn!) This allows lunches to be quickly assembled since the ingredients are ready to go.
- Keep it simple
Don’t over-complicate lunches. Make sure your kids have protein, a fruit or vegetable, and healthy carbohydrates. Focus on these questions: Will this fuel your kid throughout the day? Are they given the vitamins and nutrients they need? Will this keep them satisfied throughout the day?
- Utilize leftovers
Packing lunch right after dinner can be a quick way to both clean up dinner, and get a lunch made. Doubling your dinner recipes is an easy way to prepare dinner and lunch at the same time. Plus it allows for meals that your kids might not usually get.
- Have snacks ready for when the kids get home from school
Use the same habits you develop to pack lunches for after school snacks also. Have a variety of fruits or vegetables out and ready to be eaten. Things like apples and peanut butter, vegetables and hummus, and tortilla roll-ups are great nutritious items to put out for the kids. They are far more likely to pick a healthy-option when it’s ready and the first thing available.
- Pack your own lunch while you’re at it!
While everything is out, why not pack your own lunch too? Then, ingredients being pulled out and prepared, the packing process, and clean-up only need to be done once. The mindset changes from “I need to pack my kids lunches for tomorrow”, to “We’re going to use this time to prepare healthy food options as a family”.
Packing lunches can feel like a chore, I’ve been there! Finding new ways to include the family, while making the process more efficient, and using it as time with the family to work towards a healthy life can turn it from a chore to a joyful habit.