Lunchbox Makeover

Articles
September 04, 2009

Lunchbox Makeover

Looking for tips on how to create a healthy, quick and money saving lunch box? Well you are not alone!

Earlier this week we met with a group of Mommy Bloggers from across the country, and we all agreed that parents are scrambling for tips regarding back to school prep and healthy lunch box nutrition. So we all put our thinking caps on and even if you don’t have kids, here are our quick, inexpensive, nutritious, and money saving tips you’ll love!

First step is a makeover for your kid’s lunchbox! Be sure to use a reusable lunch box, this way you will save money and its earth friendly. Some lunch boxes are compartmentalized so you can separate different foods, if the lunch box that you have does not have this feature, why not try using reusable containers that fit in the lunch box instead of other wasteful paper and foil alternatives.

Then it’s all about the foods! Try making a peanut butter sandwich in a 100% whole wheat hot dog bun (or other nut butter if your child has allergies). Add sliced bananas and a drizzle of honey for an even more delicious sandwich. The whole wheat bread has more fiber than white bread which will keep you child fuller longer, the banana counts as a portion of the daily fruit serving and peanut butter is packed with protein. Read labels to avoid a long list of additives and excess sugars and sodium- We particularly like Peter Pan Peanut Butter because it is made in the USA and does not contain high fructose corn syrup.

Pack dipping ready vegetables like baby carrots, celery sticks, cucumber, bell peppers, and sweet cherry tomatoes with a small container of low fat ranch, yogurt or other dressing, or try salsa or hummus. Kids love playing with their food - and dipping is essentially just that! Vegetables and various dips are also a great classroom party snack alternative - this way the whole class can enjoy while staying away from common allergens like wheat.

Packing fruit as dessert is a great alternative to sugary sweets and cookies. Make sure that if you do pack fruit, it has been pre-washed and is cut into bite size pieces - for example, if you pack an orange, make sure you peel it - this will make it easier for your child to eat it especially if they only have a limited amount of time for lunch. Squeeze a little lemon juice on fruit that is prone to browning like apples.

What to drink? The best money saving tip is to use a reusable water bottle - they come in great colors and patterns so let you kid’s pick them out, this way they will have more fun using them. If your kids prefer something other than water 100% juices are another option but do remember that these provide excess calories without the benefits of consuming the whole fruit - like fiber. Herbal iced tea made at home is a great no calorie way to get your kids to drink more water. Teas now come in a huge variety of flavors - but make sure they are non caffeinated.

Some Mommy bloggers also complained that their kids don’t have more than 10 minutes for lunch - make sure you pack healthy foods that are in bite sized pieces - cut sandwiches into small cubes or use fun shaped cookie cutters for an exciting lunchbox surprise.

Kids love to be involved in the kitchen and at the supermarket - so bring them along and encourage them to pick some fruits and vegetables that they want to try. You might be surprised what they pick.

Have kids help you coupon clip based on your shopping list, or vice versa - have kids make a healthy lunch box shopping list based on coupons they clip - maybe even offer them a percentage of what you save using their coupons!

And yes make a shopping list - scan your fridge and pantry, take inventory and then you will only buy what you need. Making a list also saves tons of time in the market.

For some more great ideas visit SimpleAndDelicious.com and we also love (and credit some of the above tips to)fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.