Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lunchtime inspiration

School lunches can be a bit intimidating.  Especially, when you see pictures of ornately cut sandwiches daintily painted with food paint, everything following a special theme.  The idea of making a lunch can seem downright overwhelming at times, especially with kids.  They are picky eaters, they are starting to develop their own likes and dislikes.  Sometimes, it's just easier to throw a couples of dollars at them on their way out the door for them to grab something at school.  

At our house, we are BIG on knowing what our kids are eating.  We don't care about their calorie intake and we don't let anti-obesity rules dictate what my kids eat (yes, it's a problem, but we are not going to develop eating disorders in our children).  We eat lots of fresh food, limit the processed foods, and enjoy treats every now and then.  We also know our children and their needs for nutrition and what makes them thrive.  For example, Ethan needs protein.  A chocolate milk, cheese, or yogurt can instantly take him from grouchy and tired to happy and focused.  Because of this, his lunches often have at least one or two sources of protein. We rarely buy boxed drinks and just fill up Contigo cups with water for the day to drink. 

We also focus a lot on variety.  I don't spend a ton of money on lunch stuff because it's mostly things we have in our fridge or around.  I posted pictures to instagram the first two week of school and each lunch was different (you can find me here and #klassenlunches).

Also, we use Bento styled containers so that when they are eating, everything is in front of them at once.  It also limits plastic bags and trash, which is great, but what I found is that more gets eaten from these containers than when I just send bags of food.  I can also easily see what got eaten at school that day and what didn't.

Here are some helpful hints to make lunches easier:
* Don't spend more than 5 minutes making lunches, you will end up dreading and hating it!
* Try to make it different every day.
* Make a list of their favorite foods and try to incorporate them in their lunch.
* Let your kids help pick out new lunch items and test drive them at home (this summer, we picked up a Weelicious cookbook at the library and tried some out. . . some were great and some were flops!).
* Our favorite lunch containers are these.  This year we also added these and these and really like them.  This one fits perfectly into our lunch pails because we use pottery barn kids lunch pails, too.
* We also use Wilton silicon muffin liners and dip containers to keep foods from leaking.
* cookie cutters are a fun way to make sandwiches a bit more fun

Here are some of our favorite lunch ideas:
Turkey, cheese, and crackers
Hummus and Pita chips
snap peas, grape tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers
naan pizza
nutella roll ups
bagel and cream cheese
granola bars
pretzles and peanut butter
string cheese
Wheat Thins and Laughing Cow or Boursin cheese
apple sauces
Turkey and Cheese on Hawaiian bread
Honey Peanut Butter and crackers

I hope that this helps get you started or get you our of a rut!  It doesn't have to be difficult or crazy, as long as it's healthy and the kids eat it. 

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