While the first day of autumn does not arrive for another month, my family's summer is officially over in one week. Why? Because school begins!
This year is extra special. Not only because Hubby and Chica are back to the school grind (as teacher and 3rd grader, respectively). But Bug is going to be a big kindergartener! Our program is in its last year of half day K, so it's only a few hours a day. But it will be a big shift having to put her on the bus (NO, I'm not crying - there's something in my eye) and to have everyone out of the house every day.
One of the things I'll be trying to focus on this year is offering better lunches for the girls. During the summer, since there was more time and we didn't have to pack anything, we had some great "out of the box" lunch ideas. Produce was fresh from the garden or farmer's market, and we had the time to be more creative.
My goal is to extend the same ideas to our school lunches. And, luckily, Giant Food Stores is here to help! Not only are their Nature's Promise products chock-full of healthy goodness, but their on-staff nutritionists offer great tips on building a better lunch.
Here are some tips on building a better lunch box this school year!
Group It UpMyPlate is a fantastic resource for what our "plate" should look like for each meal. With the pickiness of kid's palates, it's easy to get into a habit of missing some of the core food groups. MyPlate is a goo reminder to include the five food groups each day.
Parenting Lunch Box Goal: aim to include a minimum of 3 food groups in your child's lunchbox each day.
Section It Out
I started doing this last year and I feel like it was super helpful for both me and my girls. Using a lunchbox with divided sections or separate containers helped me think beyond the sandwich and get creative. I felt free to try foods like salads or dips and vegetables that I wouldn't be able to use in a traditional lunch box. It's also a gentle reminder to include different food groups. It's a win-win, because the kiddos like seeing the different sections and not having their food touch.
Pump It UpPump it up...with protein! I've been more conscious of trying to incorporate foods full of protein into school lunches. Not only is protein an important part of MyPlate, but it's a great way to keep little tummies full for longer. Almond butter is one of my favorite protein sources (I always have a jar of Nature's Promise Almond Butter in my cabinet). Pack a double protein punch by adding some some granola as a greek yogurt topper.
Think Outside of the (Lunch) Box
How often do we plateau in a lunch-making routine of PB & J sandwich, goldfish crackers and a squeezy yogurt? This is a great lunch, but the same ol' same ol' can get boring.
Use your divided lunchbox to break OUT of the box with new ideas! Try tortilla roll-ups, carrots and ranch dressing, quinoa salad or build-your-own tacos. Sometimes a smattering of random things is a great option, too. Cut up some cheddar cheese, add some crackers, hardboiled eggs, applesauce and raisins for a tapas-style meal.
I know several parents who have had success putting mac-n-cheese or meatballs in a quality thermos and it's still warm and ready to go at lunch time!
Shake it up - your kids will thank you!
To help you build a better lunchbox, Giant is awarding one of my lucky readers a $25 gift card to start the school year right! To enter, fill out the rafflecopter below. Happy winning - and cheers to a great school year!