My son will be attending school all day now and this means that he will be eating lunch at school. I have been gathering supplies and ideas over this last month on ways to make his lunch fun and healthy and wanted to share with you some of the information I gathered.
One idea that I am excited to start with him is adding Knock-Knock jokes each day to his lunch. My girlfriend told me about someone doing this at her school and I thought it was such a cute idea to do with my children. I used our free lunchbox notes printable and found this website for ideas on knock-knock jokes to write to him.
I stocked up on small plastic containers that I plan to fill with batches of boxed pudding, applesauce, trail mixes, or raisins to cut down on the cost of the individual serving cups. We also bought stainless steel water bottles that can be filled with juice instead of the juice boxes. Sundays will be spent filling mini-containers and bagging up veggies for the week so that the mornings will be easier on everyone.
He used to eat lunch at preschool each week and the only thing he would ever eat was peanut butter sandwiches. To save on time, I would make five peanut butter sandwiches, put them in baggies, and then I would put them the freezer for the week. In the mornings, I would pull one out and it would be thawed by the time lunchtime rolled around. It was a time-saving strategy that worked really well for us. Unfortunately, he has moved on from peanut butter jelly so I can no longer implement that!
Last month I was hired by Sara Lee to act as a consultant for the company to help them plan a nutritional summit to share with moms ideas for creating a healthy and nutritious school lunch. It was such a unique opportunity for me to help in the planning stages of a blogger event and it is one that I hope I can repeat again with future companies.
Their emphasis was on creating balanced lunches and educating consumers in the bread aisle. I have to say that I have already added many of the ideas that were shared as well as implementing many of the shopping tips and I wanted to share with you some of the best information I got at this summit.
- Instead of juice, which can add a lot of calories to a child’s diet, try making fruit-flavored waters. I loved this idea for infusing water with mint, strawberries, or oranges for a fun way to make inexpensive flavored water.
- Get your children to eat the rainbow of fruits and vegetables by hanging a rainbow on the refrigerator. As they eat from each color, they can add a star to it. This helps them see what colors they need to eat and what colors they are doing really well on.
- Trail mixes are a healthy and satisfying snack in lunches or before/after athletic events. An easy formula to remember for making trail mix is 1/2 cup of dried fruit, 1/4 cup of nuts, and 1/8 cup of chocolate.
- One of the easiest ways to incorporate whole grain into your child’s diets is to to pack a fun whole grain snack like popcorn!
- When examining nutritional labels on bread, make sure that the first ingredient listed is, “whole wheat flour.” If the first ingredient listed is, “enriched flour,” look and see whether whole wheat flour is listed and where it is listed on the ingredient list.
If you have any nutritional questions or if you are needing guidance on packing a school lunch, you can contact Sara Lee through their Facebook page. They have added all of the great recipes that they shared with us while we visited the facility and they have Chef Jill checking the site and sharing ideas daily so it is definitely a page worth peeking at.
I think that the main message that I walked away with, is to do the best you can with nutrition, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it perfectly. Lunch is supposed to be fun and not a chore. Educate yourself about nutritional labels, do your best sharing fruits and vegetables in their lunch, try to incorporate whole grains into your child’s diet, and pat yourself on the back for trying… and don’t forget that cookie cutters, knock-knock jokes, or a sweet little note can be a fun way to make lunchtime fun for your children.
(Full Blogger Disclosure- This was an all-expenses paid trip to their Chicago headquarters which included air travel, a one-night hotel stay, and a gift bag. All thoughts and opinions on this trip are my own.)
What are some of your favorite ideas for making lunches fun & healthy? This is our first year packing lunches and I would love your ideas!