Stress-free lunch tips for busy families

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Growing students need healthy meals throughout the day to help keep them nourished and focused. With most families leading busier lives than ever, parents are always looking for efficient ways to pack satisfying school lunches. Whether you’re a savvy cook or prefer to order takeout, we could all use some fresh tips and tricks to take the stress out of lunchtime.

Read on for some fresh ways to keep kids on their “A” game this year without breaking the bank.

Fix and freeze

Turn dinner into lunchtime portables by freezing individual portions of rice and pasta in resealable plastic baggies. You can freeze for up to 30 days and simply reheat before packing in a lunch. You can also put heated food in a thermos to keep warm until lunchtime.

 

Use drinks as ice packs

You can also freeze juice boxes overnight to serve as ice packs for cold-sandwich lunches. Besides freeing up space in their lunch bags, it keeps drinks cold and food fresh.

 

Add fruit to the mix

Fruit is an important part of a child’s nutritious diet, so including healthy fruit servings are a must. Fresh fruit like apples and bananas are an easy win. There are other ways to add fruit to the mix, including applesauce and dried fruits. Applesauce is a classic kids’ favorite, and today’s applesauce is often healthier and more versatile than it once was. They come in all sorts of new flavors like cinnamon, granny smith, strawberry and blueberry.

Dried fruit snacks are also a go-to as you don’t have to worry about them bruising and they often contain more fiber. They also come in an assortment of flavors and are made from such fruits as cherries, blueberries, apricots and dates.

 

Keep apple slices from turning brown

If sliced fruit is a must, keep them fresh by wrapping them up. One simple trick is to simply wrap a rubber band around a sliced apple to keep the pieces together and air out. You can also wrap the slices in saran wrap.

 

Have the kids do it

Hey, getting your kids involved in packing their lunches is not only a great way to teach responsibility, it’s also an opportunity to discuss the fundamentals of healthy eating. Plus, with helpers afoot, it may just save you some time and energy.

Kids will also enjoy feeling like they have some control over what goes into their lunches. Keep them focused by providing them with structured choices, such as — a turkey and swiss sandwich or cheddar and apple? Carrot sticks or sugar snap peas?

 

Make your own single servings

This is a perfect thing to have kids do while also saving money. Get reusable bags and have them divide up large snack bags into smaller, single servings. Make it fun (and avoid crushed snacks) by having them blow air into the bags with straws before fully sealing.

 

Make lunch at night

If you can, avoid last-minute lunch-making before heading out to work and pack their lunch at night. This makes it much easier to pack up dinner leftovers and make note of what you might need to pick up for the next day’s lunch.

 

Pick the right pack

Make your life easy and promote wellness with great lunch gear. Dishwasher-safe containers will streamline your routine and non-toxic materials will help keep kids healthy and safe.

If you plan to include both hot and cold food items, look into ice packs, sturdy leak-proof thermoses and lunch bags or boxes that feature divided compartments to cut down on packaging.

 

Consistently creating great midday meals may sound like a tall order, but with a few go-to essentials and some smart packing strategies, you can help keep kids fueled for more focused learning.

 

— Information provided by StatePoint.