Disclosure: Today’s post is brought to you in partnership with Clif Bar and Company. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and preschool musings are my own.
If you want to start serving balanced meals to your whole family, your child’s school lunch is a great place to start! I mean, I’m packing 10 lunches a week. So really there’s no excuse NOT to use school lunch as an opportunity to fuel my child’s school day with nutritious AND delicious foods.
Packing a nutritionally balanced lunch that your child will enjoy may seem like a daunting task, especially when you are trying to prepare it before the bus arrives. Weekday mornings are hectic enough, let alone worrying about what and how much they should be eating during the school day. With the help of fellow lunch-packing Moms like myself, plus a list or two of your child’s favorite foods, you may find that packing school lunch is a lot easier than it seems. So, what makes a balanced school lunch? Here’s a simple school lunch-packing formula I follow to fuel those little bodies and brains!
Power with Protein: Protein foods will help your child feel fuller for longer, which will hopefully help them make it through rest of the school day without needing an additional snack. I typically serve a sandwich option that includes a protein middle, as well as a side protein choice. This could be deli meat or sunflower seed butter in a sandwich or other main course and another hunger-busting snack such as a hard-boiled egg, CLIF Kid Zbar® Protein or hummus. Don’t forget that dairy food favorites like yogurt, milk, and cheese count as protein too!
Choose Packaged Foods Wisely: I’m always on the hunt for fun, nutritious, convenient options for my active kiddos. That’s why I turn to CLIF Kid Zbars®, an organic energy bar with 10-12g of whole grains and no high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. Whole grains are not only a good source of fiber, but they also provide energy to fuel kids’ active bodies and imagination during play. If your kids instantly smile when they see something chocolate in their school lunch, then the chocolate brownie flavor will definitely go over well.
CLIF Kid® products are designed with active kids in mind. These snack bars are the perfect size for any lunchbox, mid-morning or after-school snack, and are made with delicious, wholesome ingredients – like those you’d find in your kitchen – to ensure your child has the fuel he needs to keep going, growing and learning. Whether you kids need a snack on the playground (like CLIF Kid Zbar) or a hunger-busting, satisfying snack to hold them over until their next meal (like CLIF Kid Zbar Filled or Zbar Protein), here’s to packing a nutritious-punch this school year!
The More Fruits and Veggies, the Merrier: It is also important that your child’s lunch includes fruits and vegetables! Try to pack at least one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables every day. Vegetables can be included in a sandwich or pasta salad or on their own with a little bit of ranch, yogurt or hummus to dip. Fruits can be considered a naturally sweet dessert that your child can eat at the end of their meal! When it comes to fresh produce, planning ahead is key. You can pack a healthy school lunch loaded with fruits and veggies in minimal time by doing a little preparation the weekend before the school week. When you get home from the grocery store, wash, peel, and chop fresh fruit and veggies and place them in reusable, sealable containers for an easy grab-and-go option.
Get the Kids Involved: Get the kids involved in the lunch-packing process! Kids are often more likely to eat their lunch if they have picked the foods out or prepared them themselves. Plus, if they see you packing a nutritious lunch, they will be more likely to do the same. Take your kids grocery shopping so they can choose fruits, vegetables and snacks they want to eat. Or allow them to pick a favorite food to include in their lunch a couple days each week. This will teach them how to create a balanced meal and, as they get older, they can take on more responsibility. Soon it will be one less lunch you will have to make!
Assembling homemade trail mix or yogurt parfaits, and peeling hard boiled eggs or oranges are all ways kids can help in the kitchen. Older kids can also create their own sandwiches, wraps, or roll-ups, and even wash, chop, and prep vegetables.
As you can see, packing a nutritious punch in your child’s lunch doesn’t have to be stressful or difficult. Following a simple formula and relying on a few quick and convenient options is key to ensuring their little bodies and brains are equipped with the nutrients they need to be the best students they can be.