The race is on! School is back in session and parents everywhere are waking up earlier to be ready to race out the door - kids up, dressed, scrubbed and brushed, fed, and ready for school. Let's face it, there's not a nano-second to spare in the mornings to labor over a Pinterest worthy lunch, but we do want to feel good about what we pack for our children.
#1 - Build a Grab n' Go Bin
Do this WITH your children, their buy-in will go a looong way to them actually eating what's packed. Next time you are grocery shopping, pick some grab-ables together that can be placed in an area the kids can reach. Make a basket on the counter with granola or protein bars, boxes of dried fruit (raisins anyone?), nut-packs and some fresh fruit. My kiddos love the little Cutie's Oranges or small apples, easy to peel and eat and look great on your counter. In the fridge, use on of those built-in bins or buy a bin to store yogurt, cheese sticks, hard-boiled eggs, and cut-up veggies. Kids can reach in, grab a couple items and toss in their bags.
#2 - DIY & BUY
Okay, I know your don't have time to do-it-all-yourself and you feel guilty buying it all, so strike a balance. Pre-packaged, ready-made brands are focusing on reinventing classic foods to be healthier for kids with less fat, fewer chemicals, and overall cleaner ingredients. Look for foods without trans fat, high-fructose corn syrup, or artificial ingredients that your children will enjoy eating - examples of brands I trust: Stonyfield Organic ; Justin's; Jovial's; Clif Bars; Biena; Primal Meat; and LateJuly.
Freshen up the traditional lunch ideas with UnWiches and power spreads. I'm talking about wraps, rolls, and avocados! Instead of a PB&J on whole wheat (although a classic for a reason), try a ChunkyMonkey made with chunky peanut butter, sliced bananas, and mini-chocolate chips. Wraps are really popular right now and the choices in healthy options are boundless! Roll up roasted turkey, swiss cheese, and bib lettuce in a multi-grain wrap spread with mashed avocado and lime (to keep the avocado from turning brown). Another great UnWich is hummus (power spread!) on pita bread with kalamata olives and sliced cucumbers. All of my winning recipes can be found here.
Most importantly, involve your children in the process from planning, to shopping, to preparing and cleaning up at the end of the day. Have taste tests at home to discover new favorites and win-over picky eaters. Making food fun, fresh, and fast is a great way to win the Back-to-School race!