Who remembers lunch time growing up? It wasn’t always the healthiest meal, especially as we got older. Does anyone else remember middle school and that taste of freedom when you could choose whatever you wanted and had ala carte choices?? Maybe you ate a bag of chips and a juice barrel and considered that lunch. Don’t worry, I did too. I look back and realize that I was definitely not fueling my body. No wonder I was always tired and run down because, in all honesty, breakfast wasn’t much better. As a parent, I have made it my mission to involve my kids in food choices. I help them to understand why we eat the things that we do, why we don’t eat certain things and why we don’t eat certain ways. When kids understand “why” they begin to be able to make their own choices about food and the hope is that, as they get older, they are more likely to continue to make the better choices. When they are given the opportunity to experiment with less than ideal food, they will be more aware of how those choices make them feel and it will be just that - an experiment versus a long term lifestyle choice.
We are daily lunch packers in our family. We have made the choice as a family to eat gluten-free, based on different medical diagnoses and health histories. Our school district doesn’t offer things that meet that minimum guideline and definitely not our more rigid standards of fresh, whole, nutrient dense foods. So, what types of things do I send with my kids to school for lunch?? We tend to go for a rainbow of foods and make sure they have balance. To make portions and variety a little easier when they were little, we started using these LunchBot containers. We love them because they are dishwasher safe and durable – we are headed into year 5 with these containers and they still look like they did on day 1! We try to mix things up and meal prep for lunches at the beginning of the week. We will pull a bunch of grapes, cut up carrots or bell peppers, make sure we have plenty of whole apples to cut up quickly that morning and have other fresh fruits and veggies on hand. When the lunches are made up of fresh fruits and vegetables, it is easy to meet my goal of giving my kids a bit of a rainbow in their lunchboxes. We also cut up blocks of raw cheese at the beginning of the week to put in lunches, but also to snack on throughout the week for a quick pick me up. Instead of buying lunch meat I usually roast chicken breasts or other meats to pack in their lunch, we do this because it is more cost effective and less processed. One of our kids favorite things to eat are salmon pinwheels or chunked wild caught salmon. These are a great source of protein AND mixes things up for them! I will include nut butter in these little containers sometimes for their apples and this adds a little extra protein. We also include a reusable napkin and fork. Typically the only trash my kiddos have at lunch is from their Ningxia Packet, which is a super fruit, antioxidant rich juice pouch that they have every day to help balance their blood sugar for the best afternoon possible!
Do my kids gladly have a sugary treat on occasion…! Yep!...BUT they also pay attention to how they feel afterward. We also talk about the types of treats they can have and how they can make a better choice about what treats they choose. For example, if snow cones are an option – we opt for the dye free so their bodies are only processing the sugar and not also being bogged down by the food dye AND the sugar.
Looking for more lunch ideas? We will be periodically posting lunch box ideas throughout the school year! Remember, these aren’t just for kids ;-)
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Karly is a Wife, Mom, Entrepreneur, FNTP and Non-Toxic Living Specialist and Lover of Food - living in a small suburb of Austin, TX.