Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Packing a Healthier Lunchbox

720. That's the approximate number of lunches I pack per school year, give or take a few for pizza at school and forgotten lunch boxes.  And I think I've got a pretty efficient routine, provide the kids a good variety and a healthy balance - it's all right here in my post, What's In the Lunchbox. I mean - preparing 720 meals that have to fit into a small box, staying hot/cold, without melting, growing salmonella, spilling, or smelling crazy in the school cafeteria takes a little effort.

Recently, my oldest daughter has decided that she wants to eat healthier. Good thing. (She's not terribly unhealthy and is relatively athletic, but we can all do better.)  In her new eating habits, she's been evaluating what she packs for breakfast, lunch, and after school snack (she has a long school day.)  And told me I needed to get healthier options for their lunches.

What? I paid little attention to her because - well, because what did she know? I've been packing these 720 lunches for years.

Then one day, I looked at one of the lunches. There was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a mandarin orange fruit cup, a juice box, and cookies for a snack.  This follows my lunchbox formula... kinda.

But the problem wasn't really with the lunchbox formula, but each component and all of that combined. Maybe jelly, a packaged fruit cup, juice, and cookies were fine on their own, but all together that was a lot of sugar - even without reading the label.  Maybe I could do something fresher, too.

I went to the grocery store to do my lunch shopping and I'll be replacing some of my lunchbox ingredients to make them a little more healthier.
  • Instead of packaged fruit cups: fresh fruit - grapes, oranges, pears, berries. Also carrot sticks.
  • Instead of juice boxes: milk (individual boxes) and water (in reusable water bottles)
  • Instead of cookies all the time: I will do cookies sometimes (balance, moderation, all that good stuff) but also popcorn.
So my "formula" will stay the same, but with the fresher, less sugary options, lunch should be more balanced and healthier.

Share any ideas on making your kid's (or your own) lunchbox healthy.

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