Fall is approaching and the kids are back to school. Moms, while excited to get their days back, are now facing new challenges; getting the kiddies up and running, preparing something for breakfast while preparing lunches, getting your personal business together, and getting everyone off in a smooth manner prepared and fueled for the day! Let's be real - who has the time and energy at 6 or 7am to do all this??? Moms have to buck up - it's a full time, overtime, and then some gig. So when you are running ragged and running out of ideas for the kiddies lunches, let's get back to basics, turn on our thinker, and give our children the most nutritionally complete and enjoyable fun foods possible.
Make your life easier by planning ahead to save yourself valuable time in the morning. Many things can be prepared ahead of time, or set aside the evening before, so that when morning comes, lunch is no longer 'a scavenge the fridge and cabinets and fill the sac' procedure.
*Bag a serving of baby carrots, sugar snap peas, cukes, and a variety of colored cherry tomatoes. For younger kids, take the extra moments to apply stickers of their favorite characters and animals to the bag.
*Grab a few small containers to fill with hummus or homemade pesto for dipping veggies or for filling a pita.
* Think fun to eat shapes and colors.
*Fill a container with cooked edamame - who doesn't like to pop the seeds out!!
*Make a few dishes ahead of time that can be used for yours and their lunches throughout the week. Perhaps a cold pasta salad. Use Whole Wheat or Brown Rice Bowtime pasta, or other fun shape (use way less pasta add a lot more veggies). Add loads of their favorite colorful veggies; corn, red bell pepper, spinach leaves, basil, onion, tomato, just drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and a little fresh parmesan or feta cheese or mediterranean feta cheese.
*Put aside some rinsed/sliced strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, a quartered orange (skin on for orange smiles) or cubed melon.
*Hard boil a full container of eggs, put them back in the container and write with a sharpee "HARD BOILED" - these are handy snacks they can grab and can also be used for quickie egg salads.
*For egg salad, consider leaving one or both egg yolks out, ditch the mayo, and just cut up 2 egg whites, add sliced cherry tomatoes, avocado, basil, even chopped cooked potato, greens, and just dress lightly with a dab of olive oil and an optional 1/4-1/2 tsp of balsamic , salt, and pepper. If they have a sweet tooth - cut up two egg whites (ditching the yoke) add chopped celery, sliced red grapes, scallions or red onion, avocado, maybe even a little chopped apple. Mix with only a tsp of mayo or even substitute light sour cream or plain greek yogurt, salt and pepper to taste. Again, make it BEFORE so it's in the fridge, just grab it and stuff it in a container and give them a pita to fill - this way they don't get soggy bread.
*If breads become boring, you can use sprouted grain tortillas, wheat pita, or even large romaine leaves can become a wrapper.
*Take nitrate free turkey meat and roll up with light swiss or light string cheese, lay turkey and cheese on top of the romaine leaf and roll - seal with a toothpick.
*That sprouted grain tortilla can be rolled up around a banana with almond butter and maybe some strawberries, cut in half, and you have a great snack for 2 kids or even for the kid in you!
*Other great snack ideas are fat free and low fat single serving yogurts (check label to find the ones without excessive additives and the lowest sugar values), lara bars or homemade fruit and nut bars, homemade trail mix (raw almonds, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, with healthy dried non sugary fruits like gogi berries, goldenberries, and mulberries), or for that extra treat put a little almond butter inside two pitted dates.
These are all energizing foods - rich with protein, vitamins, minerals, necessary carbs and smaller amounts of natural sugars.
What's to drink tho? ahhh a tough one, since so many drinks are laden with sugar!
*If you can find a fruit juice box that's not from concentrate you can freeze it and use it as a lunch box cooler. It will most likely be melted by lunch time.
*Coconut water is available in single serving packs, and some are flavored with fruits like mango and pineapple. Coconut water is full of electrolytes and has much less sugar than prepared fruit drinks.
*Sun Tea, or flavored herbal teas you brew and cool at home, a good ol' bottle of water, or homemade lemonade (squeeze a couple lemons into the cup, fill with water, & add a dash of maple syrup) are also good options.
What more could you gain from this??? Besides training your kids how to eat healthy and properly, while you are doing it make an additional serving to set aside for yourself! Running errands all day? Throw a cooler in the car, add in an ice pack, put your servings in with an easy to grab apple or 2 and handful of raw almonds. You too will be eating healthy, will not be hungry, will have an extra apple in case you pick up a hungry child from school, and you'll be fueling your and your children's bodies properly throughout the day!!!