I can’t be the only exhausted parent who has stood in the kitchen after putting my daughter to bed and asked my brain for just a little more creativity as I try to put together a lunch for the next day that is both nutritious and something she will actually eat. If this sounds all too familiar, I put together a game plan of some things that make packing school lunch feel a little less cumbersome in our house.
- Tag team. If you are sharing parenting duties or have older kids, there’s no reason packing for school lunch must fall on just one person! Recruit older kids to cut up fruit or gather supplies and take turns with your partner making school lunch.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are tons of ideas out there on packing a healthy lunch, keep a list of these on hand to refer to when you feel out of ideas. Just make sure to be mindful of where you are getting your advice from. Too often self-proclaimed nutrition experts can cause unnecessary confusion about eliminating entire food groups in the name of health. Just remember that nutrient-rich lunch ideas include dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Don’t be afraid to rely on school lunch. Sometimes the lunch just doesn’t get packed. Do not sweat. School meals have strict standards in place based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to ensure the foods being served in schools provide the nutrition students need.
- Think ahead when making dinner. If you’re roasting vegetables or making pasta for dinner, consider making a little extra that you can incorporate into a packed lunch for the next day. This cuts down on efforts when it’s time to make lunch.
- Make it enjoyable. Pop in some headphones and turn on your favorite podcast or audiobook while you prep lunch for the next day. It’s a simple way to do some self-care while caring for your family.
- Rely on school milk. Encourage your kids to buy milk at school knowing it contains 13 essential nutrients in every cup. Whether in the classroom or on the field, the nutrients in milk provide energy, build lean muscle, and support a healthy immune system to help them bring their best this school year.
Nourishing kids is a huge job. Give yourself a pat on the back and take some of the pressure off when packing school lunch by following these tips.