We are slowly getting ourselves geared up for the start of school. For Our Boys, it doesn't start until after Labor Day, so we've been savoring these last days of summer. Since I've been taking a little time off to be home with them before the start of school, it's been a good time to start talking to them about some lunchbox ideas.
When I received my monthly ideas as part of the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger Program, I loved the ideas that they shared on the subject of healthy eating and packing lunches. I'd love to share some of their suggestions with you as well... perhaps it will inspire you to get the kids involved in the planning.
What? Get the kids involved in planning what they will take in their lunchboxes? YES! If you want them to eat what you send and not trade it with someone who might have brought something more interesting... then, let them be part of the planning. Of course, setting a few guidelines such as there needs to be at least one fruit and one vegetable along with a healthy sandwich (or other "main" meal item) and perhaps a small dessert treat. Each family needs to decide how to approach it so that it will work well for them.
I have dreaded making lunches for a long time. My Oldest is actually pretty easy to pack a lunch for... he will eat a few different types of sandwiches and he and I have discussed which fruits he will eat and which one's he would prefer not to eat at school (some are too messy for him to be bothered with during a very short lunch period). My Youngest... well, not so easy. Sometimes he'll eat sandwiches and others he won't touch them to save his life. So, I have to get creative with his lunches.
I'm still working on my kids taking veggies in their lunch - beyond the tomato and lettuce that are on the sandwich - but, it's getting better. Sliced cucumbers are a favorite and next we'll try doing carrot sticks with a dip to try this year. Baby steps... but, getting there.
Fresh fruit is always a mainstay in our lunches because it's simple and so delicious when it's in season. As the prime season for our favorites fades away, adding some other options can work just as well - think about raisins, dried fruit or even fruit cups packed in water. If the fruit cups are too hard for little hands to open, consider draining them and putting the fruit into another sealable container that they can open.
Our school is nut-free so we can't do this, but if you don't have restrictions try sending in trail mix or a crunchy granola bar can be a nice alternative to chips. The protein from the nuts will help keep them full during the afternoon when all too often eyes begin to droop and attention spans falter.
When putting together a sandwich consider using the Hormel Natural Choice line of deli meats. Why? They are all-natural with no added nitrates, natrites or MSG. They don't even add preservatives to their deli meats. Once you have your deli meats, try different ways of sending them in the lunch... from wraps using tortillas to wraps in lettuce to dicing them up and serving with some veggies and pasta.
I like to add a bit of pizzaz to my sandwiches and My Oldest is usually receptive to trying some new flavors. So, when I received some of the Peloponnese spreads I couldn't wait to try them out! I really loved the Peloponnese Artichoke Spread! Full of flavor so that you don't need to add too much to your sandwich in order to punch it up.
One suggestion I remember from a kindergarten aide years ago... was to do the experimenting AT HOME! Make sure they have had a chance to try the "new" foods at home before you send them in their lunchbox. The result can often be a very hungry child at the end of a long school day... and, we all know what that can be like when they get home, right?
I'd love to hear about your school year lunchbox packing... do you plan it out ahead of time? Do you get the kids involved? Are there certain things that you always send in the lunchbox? Do you have challenges - such as a picky eater or perhaps restrictions on certain types of foods (ie: nut-free) that you need to consider when packing lunches? Please share in the comments section... I'm sure we could all use some new inspiration!
Note: This is not a sponsored or paid post. I did receive product samples from Hormel as a particpatig blogger in the Hormel Extended Family Blogger program. All opinions are my own.
Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.