When you send your kids off to school, you can't expect them to learn their best unless they are fueled with a healthy lunch. Provide a healthy meal that's also easy to prepare to ensure that your kids are getting the nutrition they need every day. The best brown-bag meals are those that your kids actually like, so keep their preferences in mind by letting them write their favorite healthy foods on a kitchen chalkboard that you can refer to when making their lunches.
Improve Old Standards
Generations of moms have streamlined their preparation so that traditional favorites are often the easiest to make. One way to improve your old standby meals is to include healthier alternatives. Make sandwiches with whole-grain bread instead of plain white bread. Toss in a plastic bag of air-popped popcorn or homemade trail mix instead of chips or cookies. Cut up carrot sticks, celery, bell pepper spears and radishes and send them along with an individual serving of creamy dip.
Moms all over the world successfully send their kids off to school with a brown-bag lunch without even considering the things that end up in a traditional American lunchbox. Take a tip from these international moms to create quick wraps, burritos and pita pockets instead of sandwiches. Fill your creations with anything from teriyaki-coated meatballs to falafel.
Letting your kids help prep their own lunches makes getting them ready for school much simpler. Start at the grocery store by asking them to choose between two or three options, like picking chicken breast or tuna for their sandwiches and choosing between mustard, mayonnaise or ranch dressing as a spread. Choosing which specific fruit or vegetable to include in their lunch bag also makes your kids feel like they have a say in what they eat while still keeping the meal nutritious. Kids can also help make their own lunches the night before using the ingredients they helped choose. Even a young child can choose between two fruit choices and pick a snack for her lunch bag.
On a chilly fall or winter school day, a thermos full of hot soup is deeply satisfying. You can easily prepare a big batch of soup the weekend before and heat it up in the microwave or on the stove in the morning before sending it off with your kids. Plus, a basic soup can be changed into many different meals by tossing in a few extra ingredients. If your children have had enough ordinary chicken-noodle soup for a while, you can give them a Thai coconut-milk chicken-noodle soup with mushrooms and pineapple chunks or a chili chicken soup with some canned corn, black beans and salsa. Serve soups with healthy whole-grain crackers or baked tortilla chips.