With the start of the school year right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about your kid’s school lunches. You don’t want to send them off with a lunchbox full of pretzels or rely on whatever the school can dish out each day. No, you want to be the parent that packs a healthy, fun lunch that will keep your kid satisfied and alert throughout the day.
So here’s your playbook for successfully planning, prepping, and packing healthy school lunches.
- Make sure to check any food guidelines provided by your kid’s school. They’ll clue you in on any allergy concerns and foods you need to avoid.
- Healthy School Lunches by Eating Well gives fun and healthy ideas from food and nutrition experts for keeping your kids’ lunches fresh, even classics like PB&J
- com gives a whole Month’s Worth of School Lunch Ideas that are simple and guaranteed crowd pleasers
- We shared some no-heat-need options that are relevant all year round, and easy to prep ahead of time
- Non-sandwich options are great for switching things up a bit
- And here are some diet-specific options:
Once you’ve planned your menu for the week, (or even for the month, if you’re ambitious), it’s time for the prep work.
- Wash, slice, and pack fruits and veggies in individual-sized containers on Sunday night so they’re ready to go throughout the week
- Freeze, freeze, freeze. Check out this mom’s ideas for preparing school lunches in the freezer
- Organize with sectioned lunch boxes or ziplock containers, cupcake liners, reusable baggies, whatever fits your style and budget
- Invest in a thermos or something similar so your child doesn’t have to eat cold lunch everyday
What about picky eaters?
If you find your kid coming home with a barely-touched lunchbox, you may have a picky eater on your hands. One way to counteract this is to let your kids help with the prepping and packing of their lunches. They’re the ones who will be eating it after all, so it’s helpful to know ahead of time that what you’re taking the time to prepare and pack isn’t going to waste.
Avoid introducing something brand new to them in their lunch. Keep it familiar, yet fun with new shapes for fruits and veggies, sandwich picks in their favorite color, or a note or picture to get them excited for lunch.
If your child will only eat the same three things and you’re desperate for them to branch out, consider a reward system to get them to try something different. That way you can combine their favorites with one newer item for them to try and consider adding to the normal rotation. This is a great way to create balanced, healthy school lunches.