Packing a lunch should not be a difficult task. You throw a few things in a lunchbox and voila, done. Right? So why is it that when it comes to packing my kids’ lunch, it seems like a daunting feat I’ll never master? What will I make her? Will she eat it? Or will I wonder how she survived the day when she comes home with an almost entirely intact lunch?
I used to grapple with these questions constantly when lunch packing became a “thing” in my family but with two kiddos now in preschool and grade school, I’ve learned quite a few things about packing healthy lunches that I want to share with you! I’m hoping the tips below will make the process easier and have your kiddos more excited to open those lunch boxes!
Kids like choices. When I started using a Planet Box lunch box with several compartments, I found this genuinely helped my daughter eat more of her lunch! The 5 compartment Rover box specifically keeps things interesting with different sized sections where you can delight your kiddos with a variety of foods that give them the “power” of choice.
When I started packing smaller portions, I noticed more of it was gone at the end of the day. And no, this was not a post baby brain illusion, my daughter was actually eating more (if not all) from each compartment if I put less food in each. Lesson here is that smaller portions might seem less overwhelming for kids to conquer at lunch.
I always include a “main,” fruit, veggies and “snack” in every box. The latter 3 are easier whereas the main takes a bit more planning. Here’s a veggie wrap I made recently that my kiddos absolutely loved! As for snacks, you may want to try these Energy Bites or Beet Chips. And when there just isn’t time to make snacks yourself, our cold-pressed applesauce, smoothies and baby blends are perfect nutritional options your little ones will love.
Instead of flying by the seat of my pants to pack lunch each night or frantically each morning, I get my daughter involved in the process (particularly around the “main” item that may take some more preparation than the other sides). I plan out a menu for the week and I ask her to chip in and help for a few of the items she wants during the week. Sometimes dinners get transferred over to her lunch. Other times I make simple yet healthy items such as the recipes below!
If I have a side of strawberries, I may sprinkle them with a tad of chia seeds or hemp seeds. If I have a side of trail mix, I may mix in a little olive oil or coconut oil. If I make a peanut butter and honey sandwich, I add apples or bananas inside. Most kids don’t like overly complex recipes, but a sprinkle of something here and there can keep things interesting and more nutritious!
Whether you’re packing one or several lunch boxes, try incorporating some of the tips above to make the process just a bit easier. If you have a few free minutes, download and print out these cute lunch box notes (below). A little extra love and encouragement can go a long way!