As we gear up to plough through the rest of the lunch-making months until summer vacation, here are a few tips and tricks to get you to the finish line. You might even want to adopt some of these hacks permanently!
Seed/Nut butter apple
Keep skin on apple and use a corer/slicer to remove the core and cut the apple into even pieces. Assemble the apple back together and secure with a rubber band. Add a spoonful of your favourite nut or seed butter (pumpkin or sunflower butters are delicious and safe for “nut-free” schools) inside the cored section and wrap the entire apple in plastic wrap.
When your child unwraps the apple and takes off the rubber band, the apple pieces already have a layer of yummy spread on top!
Frozen grapes for cold pack
There are a lot of cold pack hacks – frozen sponges in plastic baggies, frozen juice boxes, actual plastic cold packs themselves – but I think it’s more fun and healthier to use actual frozen food. Buy bags of assorted or mixed fruit and divide into small containers, refreeze and use as cold packs. Peaches, mangoes, blueberries, raspberries and pineapple already come in bite-sized pieces. They’ll be melted and ready to eat by lunchtime.
Reusable lunch containers
Some schools are starting to crack down on plastic bags and wrap and are encouraging parents and students to pack lunches in reusable containers instead. Bento boxes are especially popular. They are already sectioned so lunch and recess snacks are all conveniently packed in one container. Just make sure the plastic is BPA free. You can buy stainless steel snack containers now as well which are much safer in a classroom than glass.
Avoid soggy sandwiches
When you treat the family to a takeout meal (healthy, of course!) Save the condiment packages and throw them in your kids’ lunches. If you’re going the Bento box route, put the bread or bun, lettuce, cheese, ham or turkey in separate sections. When the lunch bell rings, your kids can assemble their own sandwiches and add mayo, mustard or ketchup to their creations without ending up with a soggy mess.
Make a shake
Pre-measure almond or cashew milk (or rice or soy milk if your child’s school is a nut free zone) into a leak-proof bottle. Put a scoop of ND Shake kids into a small container. At recess our lunch your child can add the powder to the milk, shake, and get a boost of vitamins and nutrients in the middle of the school day. How awesome is that?
A quick search on Pinterest will lead you to some downloadable daily affirmations that you can print out, cut up and include one in your child’s lunch bag every day. For younger kids that don’t yet read, include pictures of hearts or cute animals hugging to symbolize your love!
Prep dinner and next-day lunches at the same time
Who wants to come home from a long day at work, make dinner, clean up and then start all over again with school lunches? While the veggies, proteins, pasta or grains cook, cut up fruits and raw veggies for snacks and use leftover meat and sides to throw into a wrap, roll, cut up and viola! Lunch is done!
Plain water can be boring, so why not add a few berries for some taste? Some frozen blueberries or raspberries can add some zing to tasteless water and keep it cool at the same time. Add a scoop of Orange Naturals Probiotic Powder to maintain good gut health for little bodies!
Sneaky vegetable hack
While you’re steaming carrots, sweet potato or cauliflower for dinner, set a cup or two aside. Blend with ¾ cup of water (more if the mixture is thick) and when smooth and liquidy, add to a thermos lunch, like soup, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs. Combine well, and your kids will never know.