Packing lunch is probably one of the last things on a Mom’s to-do list each day, so it’s easy to see why PB&J makes pretty regular appearances. Don’t get me wrong, I love peanut butter, but if you are looking for a way to liven things up — and maybe even add a few extra nutrients — I have some ideas for you:
Upgrade the bread. Switching to a whole-grain bread can make a big nutritional impact. Shop carefully though, making sure the packaging says “whole grain” and not just “100% Wheat.” Labels can be deceiving; if you’re not sure how to spot the real whole grain read this. Also consider switching to whole-grain pretzels, crackers, etc.
Try tuna sandwiches. Of course there will always be a few picky eaters out there that won’t take to tuna, but a lot of kids enjoy the mild and satisfying flavor. Plus tuna sandwiches are the perfect hiding place for veggies like cucumbers, celery and carrots. If you’re worried your kiddo might object, don’t mention anything about “fish” — for all they know, it could be chicken. Speaking of which, if the tuna isn’t working out, chicken salad sandwiches provide a lot of the same benefits and might be easier for your child to swallow.
Forget the fruit snacks. Although they are called “fruit” snacks, there is not much fruit in them. Plus your dentist will thank you for leaving out these sticky numbers. Give your child fruit snacks the way Mother Nature intended. Some kid-friendly favorites: grapes, blueberries, bananas and cut-up melons.
Watch the juice. Packing a juice box is a good idea — especially if you freeze it beforehand so it can double as an ice pack to keep the whole lunch cool — but you need to be picky about which juice you choose. Look for one that contains no added sugar. Since a child’s recommended daily intake of juice is fairly low (for kids age 6 and under, it is just 4 to 6 ounces a day), try watered down juices like R.W. Knudsen’s Sensible Sippers (with the Berenstein Bears characters on the box), which have a nice flavor but a lot less sugar. Better still, you could try good old H20!
Pack some love. Including a note from Mom on the napkin is a great way to help your child feel loved, which might be just the reminder they need if they’re having a rough day at school.
What are your sack-lunch tricks?