With the rush of having the kids head off to school again, packing a healthy lunch can get pushed to the back burner. It can be hard to find healthy options that I know my children will eat both in and out of school. My teen son eats lunch at Vo-tech school, they have a pretty decent program and he is happy with the choices they give him. My daughter however packs every day. Sadly, I think that our school lunch program is horrible so anything I pack is bound to be better.
Does that mean I always am super mom and pack her a 100% healthy meal? No, I don’t. Honestly I try to offer her foods that I know are healthy as well as a treat that she likes. It’s a compromise and so far it’s working for us. A typical packed lunch would be a sandwich (usually peanut butter and jelly), a fruit (either frozen, canned, or fresh), a veggie (salad or crudites with Ranch dressing), and a treat (sugar free pudding pack, or a mini bag of cheese crackers or something similar).
Eh, it isn’t the healthiest lunch, but it also isn’t the worst. It’s in the middle. Some days are better than others and we’ve been brainstorming other ways to pack a healthier lunch. I do have a few simple lunch packing tips.
Make homemade versions of popular snack foods:Pie would eat those mini packaged muffins all day long if I let her. They are awful for you though so she might get them once every few months as a special treat. I find that she likes it even more when I make homemade mini muffins for her. We often will bake a batch of banana yogurt muffins, peach muffinsor find new muffin recipes to try out. I always try to replace the oils with unsweetened natural applesauce and incorporate some yogurt in the recipes we try, to add a little extra nutrition. Once cooled you can freeze the miffins in a large heavy duty freezer bag. Add them to her lunch in the morning and they’re thawed by the time she’s ready to eat. This is one of her favorite lunch box treats and her friends always want one too so I usually pack extra.
Give them something to dip it in:No ranch dressing may not be the healthiest choice but it sure does make my daughter eat her veggies! We found this cool container that has a lidded dip area in the center. It holds just a tablespoon or so, while looking like much more. I add cut up broccoli, green peppers, salad, chick peas and or celery and it usually comes home empty. I love this $2.97 container! We have plans to try it out with whole wheat nachos and cheese soon – yum!
Fruit comes in many forms:Fruit is one of the best things to include in school lunch. It can satisfy your child’s sweet tooth without all the added junk. There are so many ways to include fruit — We buy bags of frozen unsweetened strawberries, raspberries and blueberries when they’re out of season. Add a heaping spoonful to a container then add 1/4 cup of yogurt for your own fruit on the bottom yogurt packs. The frozen fruit keeps you r yogurt nice and chilled until lunch. Nectarines are a favorite, as well as peaches, cut up fresh pineapple and a cupful of chunked watermelon or cantalope.
Give them a say:Take your child to the store or farmer’s market and let them help you choose fruits and veggies to include intheir lunch. When my daughter picks something out for herself she is much more likely to eat it and enjoy then when I try to force it on her. For instance, I know that she hates carrots… hates them — I don’t make her eat them, I give her another equally healthy option no matter how much I think she should love them! She also does not like wheat bread, this annoys me to no end but she refuses t eat it. I have tried the whole wheat bread that is white but it’s quite expensive. Is it worth fighting about? No, not to me. Forcing her to eat is is not going to make her like it any more.
These tips might be a little laid back for some. Packed lunch is something that is continually being worked on, improved upon and discussed in our house and I’m sure that tomorrow I might find an even better way to do something. Do what works for you and your child. When children are taught what a once-in-a-while treat is and what a healthy everyday choice is, they will ultimately make the right choices most of the time. Check out the Horizon Healthy Families Back to School Communityfor more great tips from moms like you!
Share how you get your kids to eat healthy food in the discussion box below for your chance to win a $500 Mom’s Getaway Spa Day from BlogFrog!
Want to exchange more healthy snacks ideas, money saving tips and back to school shopping advice with other moms? Visit the Horizon® Healthy Families Back to School Community!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon. The opinions expressed by me do not necessarily reflect the view of the Horizon Organic brand.