Top 10 Lunchbox Tips

It’s not easy packing school lunch.  In fact, it gets old and boring r-e-a-l fast!   After a while, thinking up original lunchbox ideas (that don’t break the bank) can feel impossible. 
From the very beginning, our mission at Wholesome Tummies has been to make kids’ foods that are fresh, nutritious, and exciting.  In our quest to achieve this trifecta, we have come up with hundreds of ideas to cajole even the pickiest eater along the path to healthy eating.  After all, it’s not nutrition unless they eat it.
With those goals in mind, here are our Top 10 Lunchbox Tips to help you pack fun and nutritious lunches for your child.   Happy packing!
1.     Get Creative With Leftovers
Use leftover chicken to make a Chicken Caesar Wrap or a Chicken Soft Taco, or a Naked Chicken Parmesan.  Leftover dinner veggies could make the base of a Pasta Primavera or even a Teriyaki Stir Fry.  Always try to repackage them as a new dish so your child doesn’t get bored.  Don’t let leftovers go to waste!
2.     Make a Bento Box
What is a Bento Box?  A Bento Box is a multi-compartment box used to contain the different courses of a meal.  Instead of packing the traditional entrée and two sides, make a lunch out of a variety of small snacks.  Think Tapas for kids!   Hardboiled eggs, box of raisins, apple or other fresh fruit, handful of crackers, tuna fish or chicken salad, pasta salad, veggies, dips, and more!  With a Bento, anything goes.
3.     Pack Homemade Soup
This is always a big hit with kids.  Kids love soup, especially with something crunchy like croutons of Asian noodles on the side that they can add when they are good and ready.  A whole wheat breadstick or whole grain crackers go perfectly on the side!  Visit our February blog post for some easy kid favorite soup ideas
4.     Pack a Hot Entrée
Kids tire of the same old – same old Turkey Sandwich every day (not to mention most deli meats are loaded with nitrates, which we need to minimize in our children’s developing bodies).  Even Peanut Butter & Jelly can get old day after day!  Keep lunch exciting by packing a hot entrée - pasta, stir-fry, meatballs, hot leftovers, even scrambled eggs, French toast, or oatmeal in your child’s thermos for lunch.  If you have trouble keeping the food inside the thermos hot, make sure to pour with boiling water first and cover for at least 10 minutes before filling with hot food.
5.     Make Fresh Sides
Use a variety of creative, in-season choices every day so your child looks forward to the fresh sides.  Examples include:  carrots and celery with ranch, red pepper and hummus, apples and peanut butter, side garden salad, pears and vanilla yogurt, edamame, cucumber slices and herb cream cheese.  Keep them guessing!  You may want to invest in small Tupperware containers so you can keep sides separate and easily serve dips with fruits and veggies.  A product like Rubbermaid’s BPA-free Lunch Blox works great.
6.     Don’t Get Stale
Mix it up! Get creative!  Don’t fall into a rut with lunch making.  The worst thing you can do for your child is give in to her demands to eat the same lunch menu every single day – doing so will guarantee a picky eater.  Make a promise to yourself never to pack the same lunch within a single calendar week, and you’ll be well on your way to raising an open-minded and adventurous eater.
7.     Substitute Sandwiches
Instead of two slices of bread, try a wrap, a salad, or a hard taco shell.  Do sliders, crackers, or just roll-ups (no bread) to mix things up a bit.  Don’t let your child get too comfortable with what goes in the lunchbox – keeping them on their toes keeps lunchtime exciting, fun, and always a surprise!
8.     Go Around the World
Pick a day each week and go with an international theme – Mexican, Asian, Cuban, Italian, Indian, French, etc. – theme all elements of the lunchbox that day and even include a note about the origin of each.  Make it educational so your child learns something new.
9.     Include a Surprise
Kids love surprises!  Even more so when it’s a special note from home, a favorite photo, a sticker, a reminder about an upcoming event, a special toy, or even a special treat.  Inserting just one surprise item inside the lunch box can help make your child’s day extra special.  After all, isn’t that what this is all about?
10.  Get Creative with Drinks
This is one area of the lunchbox that often goes unmentioned.  Drinks can take a child’s lunch from mediocre to awesome so make sure to stock your pantry with some special all-natural choices, including flavored seltzer waters, filtered juices, fruit smoothies, or special water bottles.  A special drink takes lunchtime to another level!
Feeding children well at lunchtime and at every meal offers a unique opportunity to teach values such as:  adventure, risk-taking, sustainability, and compassion.  Exposing kids to these qualities at an early age instills confidence to try new experiences in life, which in turn builds self-esteem - one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children.  
Children who care about the foods they eat are also role models for their peers.  They are leaders at school and proud to take a stand for healthful eating and making good food choices.  These leadership qualities often carry over to other aspects of life as well. 
Make Lunch Matter, and your child will make it matter, too!

5 thoughts on “Top 10 Lunchbox Tips

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you for some great ideas. It does get basic and bor­ing serv­ing the kids the same thing. Always look­ing for new hints. Our school does not have Whole­some Tum­mies avail­able but we always check your menu for new ideas. Thanks!

  2. Anonymous

    I appre­ci­ate all of the good ideas. Your food is great. One con­cern of mine is that some­times the side choices on your menu include chips. Even the organic chips each day are not healthy and can lead to obe­sity. Kids shouldn’t get to make that choice. Side choices should only be in the fruit, veg­gie, nut depart­ment. For this rea­son I limit what I order to once per week so my child only gets potato chips or sun chips once per week. As a physi­cian I don’t approve of chips or some such choice everyday.

  3. Sarah @ fit Family Together

    Great ideas. I always savor the fact that b/c I work at home I get to enjoy a real lunch — nice to hear you try­ing to bring that back for our chil­dren. My kids eat lots of left­overs and get lots of weird looks b/c of it but they don’t care since it’s fill­ing and tastes good. One cau­tion — how­ever, while I like the cre­ativ­ity, I’m also an advo­cate of push­ing your kids to deal with real­ity a lit­tle and not always expect­ing to be catered to. I always remind my kids that hav­ing a good lunch period is a lux­u­ri­ous thing in this world and not to com­plain too much if it’s not the most excit­ing thing in the world.

    1. Wholesome Tummies

      Thanks so much for your feed­back! You’re right it’s impor­tant to man­age lit­tle one’s expec­ta­tions when it comes to lunch, that way we as par­ents can sur­prise them with spe­cial things when the tim­ing is right.…And know that we’ll be appre­ci­ated for it! I love mix­ing up left­overs just enough so that it doesn’t seem like the same dish two days in a row — put the chicken in a Cae­sar wrap or do noo­dles instead of rice with the left­over stir fry. Just enough to make it seem new to them, but requir­ing min­i­mal extra work from us. Thanks again!


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