School’s back in session! What does that mean? Time to start packing those lunch boxes with school safe snacks for your precious little paleo-eaters! This can certainly be a daunting task for some – the extra time it requires, the challenge of finding something your kids will eat that fits the paleo guidelines, and keeping it fun (for all involved).
I often get questions from other moms (or dads) on this subject. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I can offer some tips that have worked for our family. Granted, my little guys are LITTLE, so they may have different challenges than teenagers, but hopefully, some of you can get some ideas.
First off, having the right tools can make a big difference. Not necessary, but helpful.
1. A box or a bag that your child is excited about can help (especially if they’re little).
If it’s a good old brown paper bag – perfect! My boys love Star Wars right now, so that’s where we’re at.
• Pottery Barn Kids – We’ve always had success with these lunch boxes. They’ve lasted multiple years, offer some insulation, our containers fit well in them, and there are some fun designs.
2. Containers for within the lunch box.
Many paleo/primal enthusiasts also try to make environmentally friendly choices – including reducing the use of plastic baggies. Here are some re-usable options.
• LunchBots – This is a great company with many options to check out. We love the Duo and Trio for school lunches and the Dip containers are awesome for my condiment monsters! They also offer a great Thermos to keep foods or drink hot until lunch time.
• Pottery Barn Kids – We’ve been happy with PB kids as well. The plastic is BPA free and they also offer stainless steel versions.
• Planet Box – All-in-one container. This seems like a great, fun box with built-in dividers. You can customize the look with magnets. Sarah Fragoso (Everyday Paleo) uses this product for her family.
3. Silicone Muffin Cups
I’ve found it helpful to use silicone muffin cups as additional dividers within our LunchBots containers.
– Wilton and Casabella are two brand options.
There are some great brands available for re-usable baggies. We love these for snacks on the go, such as homemade trail mix, fruit and raw veggies.
• Check out this link at Amazon.com
– Planet Wise
It’s important to keep that yummy FRESH food, well, FRESH. Throw in an icepack or two.
• Check out this link at Amazon.com for a variety of small options
6. Don’t forget the utensils:-)
7. The most of important “tool” of all: HAVE A PLAN!
If you don’t have a plan, these products will do you no good. However, a plan without fancy products can still = success!
• Maybe you map out the week. Maybe you map out a couple of days. I highly recommend that you at least map out the next day the night before! Some people even like to pack school lunches the night before. If that works for you and keeps your mornings easier, great! If you are more of a morning packer, I find it very helpful to at least know what will be packed ahead of time.
• Take a look at your dinner plans for the week and think about making a little extra for lunch in the days to come. How could you use leftovers in your kids’ lunch box?
• Some kids are all about variety from day to day. Others tend to like the same thing day in and day out. Variety is important when possible, so be creative with ways to change it up.
• Think about balance. Aim for a quality source of protein (meat), vegetables, fruit and healthy fats in each lunch box.
• Find ways to keep it fun. Give your kids some input. Let them help (especially if they are older – learning a little responsibility will help you too;-)). For the little ones, you may make games out of it: ask them “when you come home from school today, tell me how many different colored foods you ate at lunch”.
Over the next few posts, I’ll share with you some of the actual lunches I’ve packed for my kids. As always, please share any tips that work in your house!