By Kelly, Contributing Writer
Back-to-school season is almost here! And whether you homeschool, or your children attend school outside of the home, having a plan for what to serve (or pack) for lunch makes getting ready for the busy school year a whole lot easier!
In fact, taking the time to get organized and plan healthy lunches for your kiddos not only ensures they have something wholesome to fill their little tummies – research clearly shows that children’s attention span, concentration and memory are all impacted by the daily nutrition they receive, which makes packing a healthy whole food lunch all the more important.
Yet, if trying to come up with a variety of nutritious lunch options makes you feel a bit overwhelmed, don’t worry – you’re not alone! Many of us struggle with breaking out of the same old, same old lunches rut!
The good news is packing a wholesome lunch doesn’t have to be difficult. All it takes is a little preparation and some great ideas to get a smooth routine in place for packing healthy whole food lunches that are both quick-n-easy, as well as delicious!
5 Tips for Planning Healthy Lunches Kids Love
1. Get Inspired!
Great ideas for planning wholesome and fun lunches are just a mouse click away – so, you don’t have to go-it alone! A quick google or pinterest search will uncover a ton of helpful resources for breaking free from the same-old, same-old lunches.
So be sure to take a few minutes each week to go online with your kids and seek out some new ideas to make lunch not only healthy, but fun!
To help you get started, here are my top 10 favorite healthy lunch ideas:
• 6 Strategies for Super Healthy Lunches
• 10 Easy Swaps for Healthier Lunches
• 21 Healthy Grab-n-Go Snacks
• Back-to-School Lunch Box Ideas & Healthy Snacks!
• Healthy Ideas for Packing School Lunches
• Homemade Fruit Juice/Smoothie Pouches
• How to Make Healthy Homemade “Lunchables”
• How to Pack Hot Lunch Foods
• How to Pack Eco-Friendly Lunches for Kids
• How to Choose the Right Lunchbox Food Storage System
2. Make a Meal Plan.
Making a weekly meal plan not only helps to ensure that your family eats healthier but it will also save you time, money and stress. That’s because once your meal plan is complete, you can go on auto-pilot – simply executing the meal plan day-by-day without having to stress over what’s for lunch (or dinner) and without making multiple trips to the market.
Time-Saving Tip: When making out your meal plan, consider which dinners lend themselves to also being a great lunch. And rather than just serving the same thing you had for dinner again for lunch, think of ways to re-purpose your leftovers, such as turning leftover grilled chicken breasts into super easy chicken salad sandwiches.
3. Create a Master List of Lunches.
Whether you opt to meal plan or not, this time-saving strategy will save you a ton of time in the long run – no more racking your brain to try to think of what you should make for the lunch. That’s because you’ve taken the time to make a list of your kids' lunch favorites, including side dishes and snacks. Then when it’s time to plan lunches for the week, simply look at your Master List of Lunches. And, as you start trying new recipes, remember to add the ones your family likes to your list.
And it's even more fun (and educational) when you invite your kids join you.
Use your prep time to prepare as many things ahead of time as possible, such as:
• Making various sandwich fillings and healthy dips
• Slicing up your favorite fruits and veggies for use as lunch sides throughout the week ahead
• Creating your own healthy snack mixes
• Baking a a batch of healthy muffins or cookies and freezing them for lunch box treats
5. Remember, keep it simple!
There are lots of awe-inspiring lunch ideas out there – some of which look like a professional artist sculpted them. But rather than get caught up in the cute-factor, focus instead on preparing whole food based lunches with affordable fresh ingredients and easy assembly.
And if you do want to get a little fancy without spending a lot of time or money, simply use your favorite cookie cutters to quickly cut sandwiches and other soft lunch items into fun shapes for a touch of "wow" without a lot of fuss.