1. Strive to include at least one protein/dairy item, one carbohydrate item, one fruit and one vegetable for a healthy school lunch.
The USDA’s MyPlate guidelines, available at ChooseMyPlate.gov is a wonderful guide. Ideally this year I’d like to include a protein and a dairy item but proteins have been a little tricky for me because my children’s preschool is meat-free and nut-free! Luckily, my kids love hummus, beans (especially kidney beans and chickpeas) and sunflower seed butter so I’m hoping we can get both food groups in!
2. Carve out some space in your freezer for some “grab and go” items that can easily just pop into your kid’s lunches.
Have muffins and homemade granola bars (see recipe below) ready to go. Make these items with your kids on the weekends and then they will look forward to eating the “special treat” in their lunch boxes during the week. You can even freeze peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter) and jelly sandwiches!
Everyone knows it’s a better idea to pack lunches the night before than to try to squeeze it into the morning rush. This year, try taking it one step further and pack lunches while making dinner. Since you’re already in the kitchen making food, clean up everything at the same time and it’s one less thing to do after the kids are in bed. Plus, since the kids are still up, you enlist their help in the process!
These 3 tips for packing healthy school lunches will ease your morning and make providing lunches for your children much easier. For more tips on effectively packing school lunches, plus a 2 week lunchbox menu, make sure to register for this upcoming workshop by Rachel Tobin at Lotus Point Wellness, Inc.:
Mini banana muffins
1 medium egg
1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large, very ripe banana
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup whole wheat flower
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with muffin liners.
- Mix eggs and sugar in a large bowl.
- Using a whisk, add the vanilla extract and beat until thick.
- In a separate bowl, break the banana into small pieces and mash it with a fork.
- Add the masted banana to the egg and sugar mixture.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir together until just combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the muffin liners (around 2/3 full).
- Bake 12-14 minutes until risen and firm.
Yield: 18 mini-muffins or 6 regular size muffins
Nutrition Analysis: (per 2 mini muffins)
Protein: 2 grams
Fiber: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 17 grams
Sugar: 8 grams
Fat: 7 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram