Organizing Challenge #1: What's for lunch?


What's for lunch?


If you are faced with the challenge of packing a lunch for your child, self or spouse, here is a plan to help take the guesswork out of this task. This might help encourage others to get involved. Even a 1st grader is capable of packing their own lunch with the proper guidance and nutritional knowledge.




Take the stress out of packing lunch
With these 3 easy steps

Step 1: Make a list
Fill in this list. Kids love to feel responsible and in control, so let them help you make this list. I tell my kids they need "fuel for school, thats the rule" When this list is complete you will have enough ideas to get you thru a week of lunches. 

Main: Sandwich, pasta, salad... Leftover dinners are the easiest, invest in containers that fit your lunchbox and pack up dinner for lunch. Sandwiches are easy too. I have kid knives available for safe PB&J or cream cheese spreading. 
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Vegetable: fresh or cooked, diced or whole... There are so many options yet this is often the hardest for kids to fill out. Go online with them or to the grocery store and show them how many choices they have. My kids like to dip baby carrots in chummus, you can explore dipping options too. They also like when I squeeze lemon on the cucumbers and sprinkle a bit of cayenne pepper. I encourage you to have fun and explore with this category.

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Fruit: fresh is best, apples, oranges, strawberries... however be prepared with some fruit cups like apple sauce or peaches for an alternative when fresh is not available or for variety.
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Snack: It is important to acknowledge that junk food is not a category on the list. That is because snacks are not junk food. A snack should be a nutritional boost to fuel you until your next meal. Some schools provide snack ours does not. In first grade are required to send 2, one for morning and afternoon. I try to stress that snack is not their lunch. When they come home and their bagel is there and their snacks are gone, they know that I will give them that bagel as their after school snack. (it doesn't happen often, they catch on quick!) Pirate Booty, natural fruit leathers, granola bars, nuts and dried fruit are some options I am always looking for more ideas.
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Drink: Water is best, you can invest in reusable bottles or buy a case of small ones. For variety the manufacturers are catching on that we don't want added sugar in our juices their are a lot of options for juice boxes or flavored water. Some stores even have lunch size milk in a variety of flavors. 
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Step 2: Be prepared and organized
Now that you have your list, hang it inside a pantry door or on the fridge.  Add this list to your weekly or monthly food shopping list and you will always be prepared. Place items from the list in a convenient location. Designate a shelf in a pantry for all non-perishable lunch supplies, and a shelf or drawer in the fridge to save time searching. To encourage kids to participate, make sure the shelf is within their reach, or place a step stool in the kitchen. 


Step 3: Pack your lunch!
Choose 1 item from each category and remember that snacks are not junk food. 
Fuel for school, thats the rule!

2 comments:

  1. I've been thinking about this on and off since you posted it. I've finally decided to collect my thoughts for you. Well, I finally decided, while making lunches tonight, that I'm going to have my kids make their lunch lists. Unfortunately my oldest is not old enough to read or write (I'm going to do it for her with pictures), and my other child is at the age where he will say anything/agree enthusiastically to anything you say, so he's not much help. And the worst part is, they won't eat the same things so I can't even make two of the same lunch! You must have this problem too, with four kids. Taste, allergies, etc...

    Here are a couple of ideas I use sometimes because my kids do OT like the same thing in their lunch more than once or twice a week: Scrambled egg in a container, egg sandwich, hard boiled egg. Pancakes or French toast (syrup in a little condiment container optional). Peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich. (Sometimes when I'm out of bananas I slice up an apple really thin.) Broccoli(!) with melted cheese. Rice with melted cheese (and salsa if they'll eat it.)

    One thing I wanted to note is that it's very hard to find healthy snacks. Granola bars fool you because they have the word "granola" in the name. Nutritionally, they're not much different from cookies. In fact, a Nature Valley granola bar actually has 30 MORE calories than a serving of Oreos and almost the same amount of fat (6 grams vs. 7). Animal crackers and graham crackers have slightly less calories but a lot less fat. Veggie Booty is actually LESS healthy than Pirate's Booty, and both of them are pretty comparable to Oreos! (The calorie content is similar to that of potato chips but the Booty does have less fat.) Surprising, right??

    Sometimes I do a baggie of cereal, although my kids would eat cereal 3 meals a day if I let them. Whole wheat pretzels. Sometimes a homemade trail mix with raisins, chocolate chips (just a few, although often they'll pick them out and leave the rest), pretzels or cereal and nuts. Generally nowadays I leave out snacks altogether unless I'm feeling very generous or the kids specifically ask me for one!

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  2. Great ideas, I am not a nutritionist, therefore I am always looking for new nutritious kid friendly ideas. This post is to set the stage for an easier approach to pack lunches. Once that becomes routine, then more variety can be adjusted at anytime.

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