Getting my kids out the door and with a lunch I want them to eat? It isn’t always easy, but I have tricks. Check out my tips and the lunch packing printable in this sponsored post on behalf of Stonyfield® Organic YoKids®.
My kids have been packing their own lunches for school for years. It started when my daughter was in second grade and came home with an uneaten lunch once too often.
I hate throwing away food, and I know my kids don’t do their best at school when they’re hungry. Yours don’t either.
When I first handed the reins to them, I placed a few restrictions on what they packed. They had to have a fruit, a veggie, and a protein. They had the control to choose from within those parameters, and lunch became a smooth process.
I loved that they ate their lunches – and the fact I could sleep in a little bit since I now had less responsibility in the morning. The wee ones loved their extra responsibility. They were proud they packed their own lunches.
Fast forward a few years. The lessons I taught them on what to pack started to erode. I discovered recently that there were days my kids packed just a banana for lunch and nothing else. That doesn’t work. Both kids need far more calories than that, especially with extra curricular activities straight after school.
Needless to say, that conversation caused me to rethink lunches a little. Some of my ideas still worked, but some needed tweaking. Struggling with school lunches? Check out my five tips to make packing school lunches easier.
Five Tips to Make Packing Lunches Easier
Have kids pack their lunches
My kids started doing this in second grade – by their choice. Young kids are fully capable of packing their lunches. Set boundaries of what you expect in a lunchbox, but then let them choose how to meet your expectations. Start out with lots of supervision and back off as you know they get it.
For us, we have the one protein, one veggie, one fruit rule. It works for us, but you know your kids and what they need. We allow a treat a couple times a week, whether that’s chips or candy of some sort, but for the most part we focus on those three areas.
Turn foods into dessert
My kids like to feel like they are getting away with something, even when they aren’t. One of my favorite tricks? I stick Stonyfield® Organic YoKids® yogurt squeezers in the freezer. Both kids have lunch fairly early, and they still have frozen yogurt by then.
Stonyfield® recently announced a sugar reduction across its yogurt portfolio. Stonyfield® Organic YoKids® yogurt is the first to roll out the new product and features between 25% and 40% less sugar than the leading kids’ yogurt. Couple that with the fact that all Stonyfield® yogurt is certified organic and Non- GMO Project verified, and they can think it’s dessert all they want. I know the yogurt is made without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics and GMOs.
Why does that matter? “Natural” means nothing in the food world. No one regulates that claim. The USDA Organic label, however, means the food in that package was made by farmers who don’t plant GMO crops OR give their animals GMO feed. Is it a surprise that Stonyfield® Organic YoKids® is the #1 organic kids yogurt brand?
Other options that “feel” like dessert? I’ll often mix up a batch of hemp hearts, flax seeds, buckwheat groats, dried coconut, pepitas, and a few dried cherries and chocolate chips. As soon as they hear chocolate, it’s dessert, but I know the truth.
Think outside the sandwich
My kids love variety. They aren’t ones to eat a sandwich every day, and I’m ok with that. While I have canned chicken for chicken salad (something my kids know how to make) and peanut butter and jelly readily available, they rarely choose that for lunch.
More often than not, I’ll make extra food at dinner that they then use for lunch the next day. That may be the chicken tikka masala I made the other night or a thermos of corn chowder or a slice of homemade pizza. Sometimes I make pancakes with protein powder, and they take those.
Sandwiches work fine, but variety keeps my kids interested in lunch.
Prep fruits and veggies ahead of time
My kids love bananas and apples, and those they can easily take without a thought. They know how to peel and slice a carrot, but other fruits and veggies can present a larger challenge.
When I buy a pineapple, I’ll core and slice it and put it in a container in the fridge. Right now, pomegranate is in season, so I have containers with arils I’ve seeded from pomegranates they can grab. My kids love lemon roasted broccoli and bacon Brussels sprouts, so I make big batches of those and store them in the fridge.
Make it easy for your kids to grab food and go. The less thought and effort they have to put into creating a lunch, the more likely they are to take and eat what you want them to ingest. Depending on the fruits and veggies, they can help prep in the evenings, too.
Use a lunch packing printable to help them make decisions
Remember that conversation I had with my kids where they forgot what we had available or couldn’t decide what to take? That’s when I created this lunch packing printable. They have to focus on lunch since I keep it next to their lunchboxes, which minimizes the “I forgot” factor.
Print out this printable for yourself. While I usually laminate printables like this, I chose to put it in a picture frame instead. That provides structure so the paper doesn’t slide away somewhere, and glass works just as well as lamination to create a reusable surface.
It’s simple for them to scan the list and decide what to eat. If they take the last of something, just erase it from the list. When you go grocery shopping or have dinner leftovers, add those items to the list for the next day.
Make sure your kids have fuel for after school, too
While I focus on lunch, my kids have cross country or lacrosse or tae kwon do after school most days. They need to refuel to keep their minds and bodies running smoothly. Stonyfield® Organic YoKids® yogurt makes the grade after school, too. That’s when I pull out the Stonyfield® Organic YoKids® pouches or smoothies. Stonyfield® Organic YoKids® yogurt comes in cups, pouches, tubes, and smoothies – needless to say, they’re super convenient and work to grab and go.
They make nourishing snacks, and you’ll often see my daughter enjoying a Stonyfield® Organic YoKids® yogurt pouch as we travel from school to activity. I love the no mess; she loves the taste. We both win!
I’m also a Stonyfield® fan overall because they’re more than just organic. Stonyfield® recently gained B Corp™ certification, which means they meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. I like feeling good about the companies I support, and I know Stonyfield® and other B Corp™ certified companies work to use their market power to solve social and environmental problems. How do you not get behind that?
Have you used a lunch packing printable? What are your school lunch tips?
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Stonyfield® Organic YoKids®