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  • Taylor Richter, RDN, LD

Mastering the Morning Mayhem: Crafting Lunches for Your Littles (that they will actually eat!)

As a parent, the morning hustle can sometimes feel like a marathon. Between coaxing sleepyheads out of bed, getting them dressed, and ensuring their backpacks are filled with everything they need, preparing a nutritious lunch might be the last thing on your mind. Creating a strategy to help ward off the maybe easy but sugar-filled processed foods will help you and your kids have a happier day. Keep reading for some of our favorite tips and tricks for preparing realistic lunches for your kiddos.


The Power of Planning


The secret to assembling quick and healthy lunches lies in strategic planning. Set aside some time over the weekend to game plan for the week ahead. Invite your kids to brainstorm lunch ideas with you. This way, they can feel like they have some control over what they're going to eat. When kids have a say in their meals, they're more likely to devour them with enthusiasm.


Forge a well-rounded checklist of ingredients that cover all nutritional bases: protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Protein and whole grains help to ward off mid-class hunger pangs and fuel their recess. Meanwhile, fruits and vegetables provide them with fiber and phytonutrients. And the pièce de résistance? Taming the sugar dragon. While a touch of sweetness is expected, minimizing added sugars helps keep the gateway to chronic health issues firmly shut.


Protein


I know, I know, we are always talking about protein. But honestly, it's a big deal! By ensuring that the kids have protein in their lunch boxes, it can help them grow tall and strong. Protein is also needed for satiety, or the feeling of fullness. One of the worst feelings is listening to your stomach growl while trying to learn. It makes concentrating so much harder, even for adults!


Here are some ways to incorporate protein into those lunch boxes:

  • Cheese cubes

  • Peanut butter (on a sandwich or for dipping)

  • Lunch meat

  • Rotisserie chicken sandwich or wrap

  • Greek yogurt


Whole Grains


If your kids eat gluten, it's important to aim for those grains to be whole grains. White bread or other processed products tend to have little nutrition and a lot of added ingredients.


Here's how to get whole grains in the lunchbox:

  • Whole grain bread

  • Whole grain or seed-based crackers

  • Oatmeal

  • Whole grain wraps


Fruits


Fruit can be tricky when packing lunches! Sometimes they don't always make it to lunchtime looking as yummy as when we packed them. Play around with what is quick but also what your kid enjoys eating. One way to save time in the morning is to pick fruits that you don't have to cut.


Our favorite fruits to pack:

  • Apples

  • Clementines

  • Strawberries

  • Blueberries


Vegetables


We understand, veggies aren't always welcomed with open arms. But here's your trump card—dips! Let them dabble, experiment, and uncover a newfound love for veggies. If veggies seem like an enemy, take your young sidekicks on a shopping spree. They get to pick the veggies and their dippable companions.


Veggies with dips kids love:

  • Peppers or cucumbers with hummus

  • Rainbow carrots with guacamole

  • Add veggies to their chicken wrap


Limiting Added Sugars


Decreasing added sugars can sometimes feel impossible. A lot of what is available in the lunchroom and the store is full of sugar. But we have created some quick and easy replacements to help you decrease sugar without decreasing convenience.


Here are some of our favorite replacements for those easy grab-and-go food items that our kids love!

  • Replace fruit snacks with dried fruit, Annie’s Fruit Bunnies, or fruit leather

  • Replace Rice Krispie Treats with Blake’s Seed Treats

  • Replace granola bars or fruit bars with Rx bar minis or other options that do not have added sugar

  • Replace applesauce with unsweetened applesauce options

  • Replace juice boxes or sports drinks with Hint Kids Water boxes or other unsweetened drink options


Pulling it All Together


With these game-changing tips, you're probably asking, "What's next?" Well, it's time to find a lunch container that's as heroic as you and your kids! Our all-star choice? The Bentgo Box. It has compartments for every item and dip, ditching the need for a hundred baggies. Bentgo Boxes make lunchtime easier, letting your kiddos see their all of their options at once.


Crafting speedy, wholesome lunches for your kids can be a breeze. By strategically planning your protein, whole grains, fruits, and veggies, you're ready to conquer lunchtime. Equip your littles to face their day head-on, fueled, focused, and ready!

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