Back-to-school season is scary – and not just for the little ones.
Lunchtime, especially, causes a bit of anxiety for a few reasons:
- What snacks are going to make my child happy and healthy at lunchtime?
- What kind of time and money must I invest to make a lunch that's actually eaten and not traded?
- How do I keep things fun – but healthy – throughout an entire school year?
Read on for some tips to keep costs down, your preparation time at a minimum and food waste at an all-time low.
Tips To Keep You Sane And Your Children Happy
Do your children always look forward to your lunches? Or do they peek around the lunch table hoping to trade your hard work for packaged snacks?
Incorporate our back-to-school lunch ideas into your lunch-making habits to create healthy, delicious lunches without overspending or working for hours in the kitchen:
- Do as much planning and packing as possible the night before. Chop vegetables, peel and cut fruit, organize deli meats, mix ingredients and set up lunch containers assembly-line style to drop in items in the morning.
- When making sandwiches, add vegetables and lettuce in the morning to keep the bread from getting soggy and vegetables and greens from wilting.
- Save money on brown bags by purchasing reusable, insulated lunch bags or boxes to keep lunch temperatures regulated and meals safe and appetizing.
- Keep extra small, reusable containers on hand for storing condiments and dressings.
Tips To Make Lunch Interesting For Your Older Eaters
So, what if you're making lunches to satisfy a wide range of ages? Keep it simple by preparing similar lunches that satisfy both young and grown-up tastes.
Still, there are a few ways to incorporate grown-up tastes into tried-and-true lunch sandwiches:
- Add outside-of-the-box condiments – Dijon mustard, buffalo hot sauce, cranberry relish, tomato salsa – for adult appeal and adventurous taste.
- Build sandwiches on different breads, such as whole grains, French baguettes, pitas, bagels or croissants.
- Make chicken and tuna salad enticing with nuts, cranberries, celery and other seasonings.
A School Year's Worth Of Snacks And Sides
Variety is also important when choosing snacks. The goodies below are sought-after and easy to pack:
- Vegetable slices and hummus
- Trail mix
- Yogurt and granola
- Celery and peanut butter
- Applesauce cups
- Rice cakes
- Handful of nuts
- Mini muffins
- Fruit slices
Of course, there's really no end to any list, so feel free to incorporate our ideas alongside ones that have served you well in the past.
And, to keep things fun for your little ones throughout the entire school year, consider cutting sandwiches with cookie cutters and packing fun notes, from handwritten ones to comics clipped from the Sunday paper.
Beef up your collection of quick-and-easy recipes by downloading 9 Easy Recipes You Can Prepare In 29 Minutes.