Five Tips To Keep Lunches Stress Free (and Kids Happy)

By Melanie Reid, Holistic Nutritionist August 31, 2017

If you’re like most parents, you start off the school year full of excitement and good intentions – especially when it comes to your kids’ lunches. You are committed to preparing them at night and the first couple of weeks go well. And then within a few months your excitement is replaced with dread and this all too common phrase can be heard - “I hate making lunches”. Sound familiar?

Parents come to me all the time looking for help with planning/making lunches for their kids.

Sending the kids to school with a lunch they’ll actually eat, and that is also healthy can be the biggest burden of the school year for parents. Being organized with lots of healthy options on hand along with advance planning is the key to stress-free lunch packing; it will keep you from grabbing processed or prepackaged foods out of desperation.

1. Plan out your week

Sunday afternoon seems to work best for most people. Set aside about 1-2 hours, and get BIZZY!! Include your family in this. Cook what you can for the next 2-3 days. Cooking is a life skill and kids love to show their independence! Let them help you and you will be teaching them invaluable life lessons. Wash and cut veggies. Prepare all the snacks you will be having for the week and keep them in the fridge or pantry. They can quickly be grabbed and added to lunches in the morning.

2. Ask your kids 

Let them take pride and ownership in determining what they’d like in their lunches. Encourage them and take their suggestions to heart. Depending on their age, they can help prepare some of the meals and help you with shopping. You’d be surprised at how few lunches will come home un-eaten.

3. Keep it simple

Lunches don’t need to be overcomplicated or full of “cute” foods. Don’t get me wrong – have fun with little notes or theme based lunches around Halloween, Christmas, Valentines,  etc., but this isn’t something you should focus on, on a regular basis. In reality, your kids want to eat quickly, socialize with their friends and go outside!

4. Pack protein AND fat

Protein-rich foods help balance blood sugar & are the building blocks of little bodies (and big bodies too). Healthy fats are important for optimal brain & nervous system development. It’s important to include a healthy fat source at each meal because this also helps the nutrients in the food absorb better and along with protein, helps with satiety

My Recipe for a perfect lunchbox:

A protein (Animal or Plant based)

A fat

A carbohydrate (1-2 vegetables, 1-2 fruits, 1-2 starchy carbs)

What does that look like?

○ 2 hard-boiled eggs (fat + protein), Mary’s crackers or rice crackers (starchy carbohydrate), cheese cubes (fat), Carrot sticks (carbohydrate), Cherry tomatoes(carbohydrate), Sliced strawberries (carbohydrate), Granola bar or ball (starchy carbohydrate)

○ Tofu/Tempeh bites (protein), quinoa (protein), Red bell pepper slices (carbohydrate), sliced avocado(fat), hummus (fat), Apple slices (carbohydrates), Granola bar or ball (starchy carbohydrate)

5. Leftovers rock

Cook once, eat twice!

Your time is limited so always cook more than you will eat at one meal. Just about any meal can be packed in a thermos (Pour boiling water in the thermos and let it sit for at least 5 minutes. This will help to keep the food hot). Pasta, chili, stew, stir-fries, sausage, omelettes and soup can be reheated in the morning and packed in a Thermos.

About Melanie
Melanie Reid is a mom of 4, wife and nutrition coach (Holistic Nutritionist) on a mission to improve the health of children and families through proper nutrition. She understands that feeding your kids and your family doesn’t have to be hard or complicated! Melanie brings you nutrition information you can actually use while guiding, supporting and helping you achieve family health. She’s also a long time resident of Kanata and Stittsville and loves meeting families who want to make health changes in their lives.

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