I know that back-to-school lunch ideas are a hot topic among mom bloggers this week, and I was at first hesitant to add my two cents to the conversation. However, I finally decided to share my favorite tips, in the hope that they'll help all of you lunchbox-packing moms come up with some new midday meal ideas.
Here are some of my favorite tricks for packing nourishing, delicious lunches:
Know your eater and his preferences. Some folks like big lunches; some prefer small. Some want sandwiches every day; others would rather eat leftovers. I, personally, like a lot of variety in my lunches, while Donnie would be perfectly happy to eat a turkey sandwich, chips, and an apple five days a week. Make it a point to learn your family's lunch preferences, and you'll have a much easier time packing meals they actually eat.What are your favorite tips for packing tasty, healthy lunches?
Serve meals that are light, but also hearty. Avoid foods high in fat and sodium, which will leave your family dragging all afternoon. Make sandwiches with lean, uncured meats (leftover roast chicken is a great choice!), and pass on packaged snacks in favor of fresh fruits and veggies. Meals made from delicious, nourishing whole foods will leave your family members filled, but not overfull, and give them plenty of energy.
Include lots of choices. Kids are more likely to eat healthy foods if they have a variety of options available to them. Picnic-style meals that include small servings of assorted fruits, veggies, and cheeses, are always a hit. Even if your meal features an undisputed "main course," packing a couple different snack items will allow your family to choose the foods that are the most appealing to them.
When in doubt, pack more. It's always better to have too much food, rather than too little. If kids are still hungry, they're likely to beg unhealthy snacks from their friends, or waste money on vending machine junk. Make sure they have plenty to eat, even if you know they'll never finish it. Most sandwiches and snacks can be packed again the next day, if necessary.
Keep it simple. When I worked, I often packed myself elaborate lunches that needed to be reheated in separate containers - and it was a giant pain. Avoid making lunchtime a hassle by serving foods that are simple and easy to eat. Sandwiches should be preassembled, and leftovers should be packed in a single, microwaveable container. Produce should be washed, peeled, diced, and ready to eat.
Serve something sweet. Some folks may disagree with me on this point, but I think packing a small treat is a great way to perk up family members suffering from midday blahs. Homemade cookies, granola bars, and small pieces of candy are all tasty, moderate snacks the whole family will enjoy.
This post is proudly shared at Kitchen Tip Tuesday.