The hustle-and-bustle of back-to-school season is just around the corner. With the annual school supply frenzy often comes the parental panic of what to pack for school lunches. Get ahead of the game with these tips to add not only variety to your lunch box rotation but also superfood boosts of nutrition for your budding students. An added bonus: These lunch strategies benefit every family member, big or small—so be sure to set yourself a nourishing noontime place at the table, too.
Stock up ahead of time
If your refrigerator and cabinets are filled with healthy options, you’ll be less likely to fall back onto unhealthy foods. Think through your schedule and find a regular time every week to plan meals for the next five to seven days and also grocery shop; if you do not have a large enough window for both activities, break them into separate time slots and/or try an online food delivery service (if available) to save time. If planning meals in advance sounds unappetizing, don’t get too bogged down in the details—just think of a few ideas for the week and procure the supplies so you can prepare meals whenever you feel inspired.
Find inspo with bento boxes
Swap plastic bags for a reusable bento lunch box. With neatly compartmentalized sections, these food containers encourage artful and alluring culinary displays.
Use your senses as a guide and get as colorful as possible—you'll likely be surprised what foods your family might try simply based on presentation.
Bento boxes also help encourage balanced eating: Use half of the box for fruits and vegetables, one quarter for grains, and one quarter for proteins. Add an element of surprise by experimenting with different grains such as quinoa and brown rice, and mix up the colors of fruits and vegetables to support your family with a variety of antioxidants.
Cook in quantity
If you’re time-crunched once the week gets going, make large batches of vegetables, grains, and proteins ahead of schedule to use throughout the week. Choose recipes that you can turn into multiple meals: Use extra roasted or baked chicken for a tasty quesadilla filling, use leftover grilled pork tenderloin or chicken to top a nutritious salad, and turn leftover steak and veggie kabobs into a decadent but easy sandwich.
Keep healthy snacks in reach
For times when you need a quick grab-and-go item as part of a healthy lunch or as a mid-day snack, stock the fridge with satisfying options like low-fat cheese sticks, hardboiled eggs, sliced veggies, and fresh fruit. Keep these items in easy-to-access containers so family members can help themselves.
Re-think your drink
Instead of sugar-filled juice, lemonade, or soda that can plummet energy levels, try milk for extra calcium, 100% juice for vitamins and minerals, or plain or naturally flavored water for an extra boost of hydration.
Most of all, remember to have some fun with this daily task. Don’t be afraid to take a few risks, try some new flavors, and get everyone to add their ideas to the mix. To learn more about optimizing your family’s nutrition as well as receive personalized meal plans for your family’s health needs, talk to your Vori Health Nutritionist today.