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10 Healthy Brown Bag Lunch Tips
My baby started Jr. High today! He was pretty nervous this morning, so I'm nervous for him. But of course, before he left, we packed him a healthy lunch.
Sack Lunches can be tough to pack when you are looking to keep it healthy. The older my kids get, the less they want to bring a lunch with containers or bags they need to bring home. For Nathan, he's preferred a brown bag that he can throw away for several years now. So, here are a few ways I've made the brown bag lunch work in our family.
- Let them pack it themselves! Have I ever told the story of when Nathan traded his entire lunch for ONE candy corn? True story! From that day forward, I started making my kids pack their lunches, so they would want to keep what they brought, since they chose what they brought. They can do this as young as kindergarten, I promise!
- Get clever with the sandwich bread: we've used:
- Whole wheat pita pocket.
- Whole wheat mini bagels
- whole wheat wraps
- Whole wheat bread
- Whole wheat dinner rolls
- We've never tried Panini bread, but that is an option.
- A hoagie roll
- A whole wheat English muffin
- French bread
- Then we get creative with the spreads:
- Hummus (usually chickpeas)
- veggie mayo, or light mayo
- Refried beans (pinto beans puréed)
- Light cream cheese (My personal favorite!!)
- Nut butters
- All fruit jams
- Then the fillings. Here is where parents can lose the kids! Don't pack too much stuff in the sandwich. When you get a little ambitious and pack it with sprouts and lettuce so full they can't wrap their little mouths around it, it likely will end up in the school cafeteria garbage!
- Sliver of lettuce and a small slice of mozzarella cheese
- In the case of the nut butters, add sliced bananas, apples or raisins.
- shredded lettuce
- shredded carrots
- sliced lean meats.
- Just remember, keep the sandwich thin!
- When you have no bread for sandwiches, and still don't want to lose your Glad ware... I've sent a sandwich bag full of cereal, I've sent muffins, I've sent trail mix. The sandwich doesn't have to be the center of the lunch.
- Keep snack foods in a single location that are reserved just for lunches. These can include homemade granola bars, single serving string cheese, single serving yogurt tubes (pre-frozen and by lunch they are still cold and ready to eat. The one I have pictured, Stonyfield YoKids Squeezers, only has 9grams of sugar).
- Save disposable containers such as from sour cream, butter, yogurt cups etc. Use these to send dips or tender fruits to school, and your child can dispose of the container after lunch (or if you're lucky, they'll bring it home and you can reuse it, but you don't have to sweat if they forget). The one I have pictured is a small sour cream container with pineapple in it.
- Don't forget the veggies. You can send cut up carrots, but they might get boring after awhile. Try dried veggies (In the picture, dried green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots and squash), broccoli salad in a container, Vegetable juices, sliced peppers, celery with peanut butter, shredded cabbage salads, or just pile it on the sandwich.
- Don't overpack. If you haven't heard, kids don't have much time to eat. I witness most kids eat one or two things from their lunch bag and toss the rest. So,, don't go overboard with several courses. It's overwhelming and wasteful.
- Drinks! A small water bottle (8ounce size) is usually sufficient for my kids. Nate always wanted to bring a quarter and purchase a milk in the cafeteria, which I obliged to. You can also fill the 8 ounce water bottle with homemade juices!
Other posts on sack lunches:
- Pack a Healthy School lunch.
- Why aren't they eating their carrots?
- A Bento Revolution
- Lunch Crunch
- Sack Lunches
Do you have any lunch packing tips?