I had 3 pages of notes prepared, fully organized, for my spot this morning with Millaine Wells for the Channel 5 Morning Show. Four minutes goes by so fast!! She focused more on my business than I thought, which was great, of course. I suppose everyone would want to know who I was! I thought I would just jot down some of my notes here.
We tend to think of packed lunches as "sandwich, chips, fruit, dessert". We think of the sandwich as the "main course" and work around it. Try to think of the sandwich in a different way. Changing up the bread makes a big difference. Use: whole grain buns, wraps (the wraps I use have between 8-12 grams of fiber. Tanner loves them warm with pizza sauce and cheese in them), toasted English Muffins, Bagels or crepes.
What's inside? Use roasted chicken or turkey breast, low-sodium, nitrate free deli meat. Or use your sliced meat for the outside, with cream cheese spread, relish, pickles, hummus or cheese. Use a toothpick to secure, the kids love the pretty cocktail ones....then they for sure notice it's there and won't bite in by mistake! If they love PB&J like my son does, make sure to use whole grain bread, natural peanut butter or almond butter, and all-fruit spread.
Try other things besides a sandwich as the "main course". Deviled or hard-boiled eggs, cold pasta salad, fritatta, or leftovers of last night's casserole. Kids might actually like the taste of them cold better than hot. Of course soup is always great, too, in a thermos.
Whole fruit is great; apples, pears, grapes. Be careful with peaches and bananas. you may want to wrap them in a small tea towel to protect them.
Veggies: Small, thin slices, or crinkle cut them to make more appealing. My kids like carrots dipped in peanut butter. You don't see that often!
Popcorn: put a little less than a 1/4 cup of popcorn in a paper lunch bag, lay it flat with kernels in single layer, fold over the top and tape closed. Microwave for a minute, thirty, depending on your microwave. Add some melted butter and salt if desired. A cup or so in a container makes a great lunch surprise.
Yogurt: Cheaper to buy in a large container and put in individual servings. Unflavored Greek yogurt is best, but it's a bit tangy for kids' taste. Sweeten with raw honey or pure maple syrup and add sliced bananas, chopped strawberries, blueberries, or whatever fruit the kids like. Make sure whatever yogurt you choose has active, live cultures. Pair with a container of Kashi Go Lean Crunch, or a healthy granola.
Cheese cut into shapes; whole grain pita or veggie chips.
My friend Bridgett's company, 416 Cuisine, makes authentic Grissini (Italian breadsticks). My kids love these dipped in pizza sauce.
We didn't even discuss dessert on the show! Natural applesauce with a sprinkle of cinnamon (note-this is dessert, not the fruit serving!)
Dark chocolate - a little dark chocolate every day is good for you! Pair with a few roasted almonds.
Cold, whole grain cereal (Kellogg's Frosted Bite Size Mini Wheats or Kashi cereals)
Homemade pudding - has more calcium than pre-packaged.
Make lunch visually appealing. Let the kiddos choose their lunch box. Make sure it's big enough to hold all the containers you need and a cold pack, but not too big. Kids have enough to carry.
Try to use individual containers rather than baggies. They are easy to wash out and reuse and it helps the landfills. There are all kinds of eco friendly reusable sandwich and snack bags.
Cold packs are a must. There are many great containers out there that have the cold pack built right into the lids. I purchased mine at Shopko.
Uncrustables: kids love these. Use your own bread and fillings and cut shapes.
Lunchables: My kids like the pizza ones. Make your own pizza crust or buy one pre-baked and cut out circles with a biscuit cutter, or shaped cookie cutter. Use any reusable, BPA-free separated container to include the pizza sauce and cheese.
Have your kids help make their own lunches. Pull everything you can think of from the pantry and fridge on Sunday night and help them brainstorm ideas.
Foodie Blogs have exploded. Search the internet for fun lunch ideas. There are couple of blogs that post a different lunch idea every day.