It’s that time of year again. With the last days of summer looming in front of us it’s time to start thinking what to pack for school lunches.
Whether your the reason for reading this article is to learn more about packing nutritious school lunches or just to get some new ideas I’m glad you’re here. Today I will go over 5 quick steps to creating creative lunchboxes.
1.) USDA MyPlate
It’s back! Before preparing a lunchbox it helps to use MyPlate as a visual (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/). Imagine how you would divide your plate into four sections: Veggies, fruits, protein, and grains. Include dairy as an option as well. Then choose foods for the packed lunch in the above order.
If you’re family is vegan or doesn’t consume dairy then think of possible alternatives such as soy, almond, or rice milk. Dark green veggies, tofu, and some seeds also contain the bone-building nutrients found in dairy.
Planning your child’s lunchbox this way keeps you focused on healthful options to include and will also minimize choosing less healthful options. Although, a treat every now and then won’t hurt.
2.) Be Creative
If you’re like me then most likely lunches will include sandwiches everyday. This can become boring after awhile.
What I would suggest is to search lunchbox ideas on the computer whenever you lack for ideas. Here are some to get you started:
- Leftover turkey or chicken salad w/ a side salad
- Homemade pita bread or English muffin pizza
- Fruit, crackers, and cheese (my fav!)
For more ideas follow this link: http://www.5dollardinners.com/31-days-of-school-lunchbox-ideas/#_a5y_p=2302145
3.) Staple Foods
Check your pantry for food staples. These include any common ingredient or food that can be made up into many different dishes such as beans, rice, canned veggies or fruit, and pasta. (Remember to rinse canned veggies to rid yourself of the extra salt.)
In addition, try buying foods that are easily packed such as carrot or celery sticks, grapes, or seeds.
4.) Food Safety
Lunchboxes have their own rules for preparing foods safely so as not to leave food in an environment where bacteria can multiple and cause harm. Usually, food can be kept safe above or below this temperature range: 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use ice packs and thermos to keep cold food cold and hot food hot for 2-3 hours. Or you can freeze water bottles and juice boxes. Insulated lunch boxes can keep temperatures constant until lunch.
For more specifics about what does and doesn’t need to be kept cold go to this web address: http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/safetysanitation/a/baglunchsafety.htm
5.) Make it a Family Affair
Get your kids involved in the preparation of their lunchboxes. This can be as simple as having them choose what foods from each food group to include in the lunch.