School started up in our city today, and it’s little surprise that what’s on sale in the stores are scores of prepackaged bags of single-serving everything.
There’s the potential for a lot of waste – from tossed, unwanted food items to the packaging that wraps each and every item.
I admit that it’s tough to make time to do meal planning for myself, and I have the luxury of a fridge and a microwave in the office. I can certainly see the challenge in creating meals that need to stay fresh until noon or avoid things like peanuts, which are banned in our school district.
You could buy a hot lunch at school, but there’s the impact of tossable trays, plastic silverware and unwanted food, as well as the uncertainty as to whether your child is eating pizza and cookies or healthier fare. Worse, many school districts are lacking in terms of healthy options for lunchtime fare.
So how do you make the most of your children’s school lunches? Here are just a few tips:
- Invest in an insulated lunch box, thermoses and refreezable ice packs to keep foods at safe temperatures.
- Get your kids involved. Have them help choose snacks to include, such as pretzels, dried fruit, pudding or string cheese. Even better, help them prepare their lunches ahead of time!
- Makeover your dinner leftovers for lunch. Make wraps or sandwiches out of leftover chicken, or pack pastas.
- Include things that don’t need any preparation, such a whole piece of fruit or baby carrots
- Mix it up. Kick up your sandwiches using different breads, such as pita, focaccia, even rice cakes.
- Finally, don’t overpack. By packing too much food in your child’s school lunch, you’re setting them up to overeat or to toss the rest, both of which have negative consequences.
Starting school? Here are some resources to get you started on lunchtime meal planning: