School starts next Tuesday for my boys, which means I have 3 days to figure out what the heck to pack in their lunches every day. Disney FamilyFun contacted me about posting these tips for bumping up the nutritional value of a packed lunch while still including foods kids love. I’d love for you to leave a comment with recipes or suggestions for brown bag lunches, especially if you are feeding a teenage boy like I am. I’m not sure one lunchbox is going to be enough food for him to be full! Here are five healthy tips:
• Use A Bento Box: Japanese-style bento boxes and their nesting compartments are perfect for kid-size nibbles. Best of all, when your child pops the lid, the entire spread is at her fingertips, which puts the carrots on par with the PB&J and grapes for super-easy grazing. note: I found a Laptop Lunch system, new in the bag on eBay for $27.99 two days ago!
• Sneak In Extra Veggies: If the produce in your kid’s lunch is making the return trip home, consider hiding it. Add finely grated carrots to tuna and chicken salad, swap lettuce for nutrient-dense baby spinach, or try Horizon’s new Little Blends yogurts, which offer surprisingly tasty fruits and vegetable combos, such as Strawberry-Carrot and Banana-Sweet Potato. note: I know it’s not environmentally friendly, but when you send yogurt in a cup, send a disposable spoon. I lost a lot of silverware when Ryan was in kindergarten before I gave in and bought plastic
• Add (More) Whole Grains: Pack whole wheat pretzels instead of other salty snacks. Or take a cue from nutritionist Barbara Storper, author of Janey Junkfood’s Fresh Adventure!, and make a checkerboard sandwich. Use one slice of whole wheat bread and one of white, then cut the sandwich into quarters and rearrange the squares to create the checkerboard pattern. note: whole grain Triscuits and Wheat Thins are a great alternative to chips!
• Offer Nutritious Snacks: Apples not making the grade? Try freeze-dried fruit, such as Brothers-All-Natural or Crispy Green. Another option from chef and school-lunch reformer Ann Cooper: homemade gorp. Kids can choose the ingredients, then mix up their own combinations each night before school. note: I reviewed Funky Monkey Freeze Dried Fruit Snacks and Today’s Farm Freeze Dried Fruit Snacks on my food blog MomCooks.
• Serve Low-Sugar Drinks: In lieu of traditional juice boxes, pack a juice-and-water blend, such as R.W. Knudsen Family Organic Sensible Sippers, or fill a thermos with flavored water (make your own or try a store-bought variety – just be on the lookout for artificial sweeteners). note: my kids like the Capri Sun 25% less sugar juice boxes.
Check out Disney FamilyFun’s Back to School A+ Lunches & Snacks page for recipes for sandwiches, sides, snacks, and more. And please leave tips, recipes, suggestions and links of your own in your comment! I can use all the help I can get
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