With back-to-school season right around the corner, it’s time to get organized. So we asked mom blogger Katie Morford, author of Best Lunch Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love, to share her tips and tricks for packing a great school lunch every time.
Here are Katie’s six essential lunch-box tips:
1. Start with the main course. This means a sandwich, salad, or even a thermos of rice and beans. Be sure you’ve got some protein in there, and tailor portions to your child’s age and appetite.
2. Add a fruit. Pack cut or whole fruit, and do any preparation that will help your child reach for the healthful stuff—peel tangerines, cut melon into bite-size chunks. Aim for seasonal fruit, such as strawberries in spring and grapefruit in winter.
3. Add a vegetable. If your main course is already loaded with vegetables, this is optional. Try to mix it up by experimenting with crunchy options such as jicama or fennel. Add a container of salad dressing or other veggie dip to add interest.
4. Include a satisfying side or snack. Kids like crunchy sides, and there are plenty of options such as tamari almonds or homemade popcorn. There is more to life than little fish-shaped crackers. Often, the side dish becomes a mid-morning snack that tides them over until lunch.
Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups anyone? Here’s a how-to on Blueberry (or Blackberry if you prefer) Mint Lime Fruit Leather:
5. Don’t forget a drink. Packing an icy bottle of water or milk to keep the kiddos hydrated is a lunch-box must—unless those are provided at school, of course.
6. Surprise them with an occasional sweet or loving touch. Goodies (like a homemade cookie or handful of chocolate chips) and non-food “treats” (like a note, sticker or drawing) make school lunch something to look forward to.
Katie Morford is a food writer, registered dietitian and mom of three. For more from Katie, visit Mom’s Kitchen Handbook, where she chronicles her recipes and adventures, “raising fresh food kids in a french-fried world.”