It’s early in the morning, the coffee is slowly sinking in, and you’re standing in your kitchen wondering, “What am I going to make for my kid’s lunch today?” I know this is the first thing I do every morning. We want it to be healthy … and quick! We all know the “go-to’s” that our kids enjoy (PB&J anyone?) and by all means, give those to them. But there are also some healthy options that you can put together in no time at all.
Let’s talk tools of the trade! I’m a HUGE bento box fan when it comes to packing my daughter’s lunch. It provides for the compartments she enjoys and I can make it fun in the process. Two of my favorite ones are Bentgo and Bentology. One has the compartments built in (Bentgo) and the other are containers you put into the bento box (Bentology)– so search around and see what type you or your child might enjoy. I keep a few on hand to make life a bit easier each day. 🙂
Everything tastes better if it’s a fun shape or color right?? At least with kids it does make a huge difference. My kitchen is stocked with various cookie cutters, fun toothpicks, food stamps, stickers, notes, etc… When you make the food look fun then you have a better chance that they will give it a try. So add themed toothpicks or make skewers on them, add a note from you to them, have fun with it. Also pick fruits & veggies with bright colors. You can create a “rainbow” in their lunchbox. Here are two bento box lunches I made this week for my daughter.
The first is a simple turkey sandwich, but it’s cut out into mini bites with a heart shape (I used FunBites). It’s easy for them to grab and they love the shape. For fruit you can make a multi-colored “caterpillar” with grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe & honeydew. My strawberries are always cut into a heart because … well just because! Carrots are a veggie most kids eat, so try the tricolor baby carrots for extra flair. Another way to have them eat veggies is with a hummus dip. Cut them small, or in fun shapes for their lunch. The cutters you use for sandwiches are great on fruit & veggies too.
We all want to take the simple steps for healthy options. I always try to stick with whole grains on the bread, crackers, pasta, tortilla – any of the carbs being added. For sweets, because you know they want some, a Hershey’s kiss is a small item to include. Other thoughts are chocolate or yogurt covered raisins, sugar-free gummies, animal crackers … something that you can give in a small quantity, but that satisfies their sweet tooth.
When looking at quick main dish items for the lunch box you can use a whole grain tortilla with turkey or diced chicken, lettuce and whatever veggies your little one will eat. Cut them into rolls. Have the “Elvis” inspiration and put peanut butter, bananas and honey in a whole wheat tortilla. Use a pita to create a yogurt-based chicken salad or tuna salad sandwich. Kids love pizza right? Make a quesadilla pizza with part-skim mozzarella and turkey pepperoni with a touch of marinara on a fat-free flour tortilla. Cook extra chicken the night before and cut strips for them or create a kabob.
Now for the highest sugar item in our kid’s lunches – their drink! Believe it or not, kids drink more then they eat and the majority of their sugar they take in isn’t from candies & sweets, but from what they drink! Juice boxes/pouches have a minimum of 9 grams of sugar and go up from there. Milk is good but chocolate milk has a ton of sugar too. The CDC recommends no more then 3-4 teaspoons of sugar per day, which is 12-16 grams. That means in one drink they could “drink up” all of their sugar they should have in one day, Crazy right? How do we take a quick step to reduce sugar in our kid’s lunch? If you child is one who drinks a lot of water – YEAH!! They need to stay hydrated to increase brain function and for overall health. Another great option is AquaBall. It is a flavored water with Zero sugar, Zero calories, Zero artificial colors & flavors and is a completely clean-label product. With fun characters from Disney and Marvel – it’s something your kids will enjoy.
By making simple changes in your kid’s lunch box you can Cut the Sugar and Keep the Fun!
For more ideas, you can watch the segment from ABC10 Sacramento HERE.