While shopping the other day, I noticed school supplies were already on the store shelves. Wait a minute, didn’t summer just begin? Sadly, it won’t be long before we’ll be packing lunchboxes and backpacks once again.
Most parents feel inspired at the beginning of the school year to create healthy homemade lunches. But why wait until summer is over? In fact, if your child is in summer camp, you could do a lunchbox makeover right now.
Healthy lunches don’t have to be boring or look different from everyone else’s (so many kids, including mine, reject “weird-looking” food). Here are some ideas I’ve incorporated into my kids’ lunches to make sure they’re getting good, balanced meals with healthy proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Many schools are now peanut free. I.M. Healthy Creamy Soynut Butter is a great substitute for regular peanut butter and can be used with Cascadian Farms Fruit Spread (I always look for naturally lower sugar versions of jelly or jam). Instead of making a traditional sandwich with bread, try using whole wheat tortillas. My daughter loves PB & J wraps!
Instead of a sandwich, or as a snack, pack a Clif Kid™ Organic ZBar. They supply vitamins and minerals, 3 grams of protein and are made with all organic ingredients. My kids also like Enjoy Life Chewy On-The-Go Bars Sunbutter® Crunch, which are nut free and ideal if your child has allergies.
Fruit is a must in every healthy lunch. If you can, pack fresh, whole or cut-up fruit rather than prepackaged cups. Washing, chopping and placing fruit in reusable containers the night before will save you time. You could also prepare enough for several lunches at once, making it even easier to fill lunchboxes in the morning throughout the week.
Of course, kids need snacks. Pretzels are always a great choice—they’re baked, not fried, and low in fat. Try Newman’s Own Organics High Protein Pretzels, which supply 5 grams of protein per serving. Robert’s American Gourmet Pirate’s Booty Puffed Rice and Corn is also a kid-friendly favorite that’s much healthier than chips.
I always like to add something fun to my kids’ lunchboxes, too, but I avoid cookies and candy. While most fruit snacks aren’t very healthy, you could pack a natural fruity treat such as Surf Sweets Gummy Bears. They’re sweetened with organic fruit juice, not corn syrup, and supply 100% of the Daily Value for vitamin C!
For older kids, who feel like they’ve outgrown sandwiches, salads with tuna or chicken and a healthy dressing, along with some whole wheat crackers, are a great option. You could also give them Greek yogurt topped with Bear Naked All Natural Granola Fruit and Nut or Eden Foods All Mixed Up Nuts and Dried Fruit.
With just a little effort, your kids’ lunches can be nutritious, filling and fun. Most of the foods I’ve mentioned are available right here at Vitacost.com—so stock up, and save yourself some time at the grocery store, too! Enjoy the rest of your summer.