The Best Back-To-School Lunch Tips For Busy Parents

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Goodbye, Labor Day weekend. Hello, back-to-school season.

While you might be glad to get your kids out of the house, life picks up a little when sending them off to school again. Extra considerations are taken, including a can’t-forget laundry day for sports uniforms and healthier grocery shopping trips.

Because you can’t keep an eye on what they eat for the next few months, it’s important to pack a delicious and nutritious school lunch. Here’s how to make it easier on your morning routine, especially if you’re on your way to work, too:  

Schedule a prep date. In order to be the most organized for the upcoming school and work week, pack everything on one day. This meal prep technique cuts the grocery shopping bill in half by avoiding frivolous snacks and makes deciding what to eat way easier.

Choose water. It’s tempting to pick up packaged juice boxes or soft drinks for convenience, but both options are packed with processed sugar, providing little to no nutritional value. For a healthier option that’s still convenient, give your child a reusable water bottle.

It’s better for the environment than bottled water, and it instills a good habit of recycling. It also simplifies decision making for both parties.

Use reusable lunchboxes. Speaking of recycling and reusing, plastic lunch boxes are much more efficient and eco-friendly than their paper bag counterparts. No one will grab a mislabeled lunch, and you’ll save on buying paper products. Lunch boxes also give your kids the opportunity to express themselves through comic book characters, princesses, and so much more.

Pick real food. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reported the top five unhealthiest lunches that schools provide. Options included beef and cheese nachos, meatloaf and potatoes, cheeseburgers, cheese sandwiches, and pepperoni pizza. These “meals” were too high in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

Packing your child’s lunch means you have control over what they eat. To pick the healthiest options, aim for whole foods with low sugar. The following snacks are favorites of our neighbors:

  • Fruits, including apples, bananas, grapes, berries, pears, and orange slices
  • Vegetables, including celery or carrot sticks, cucumber slices, and grape tomatoes
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Cheese slices or sticks
  • No or low sugar yogurt

To find out when your favorite meat, fruits, and veggies are in season, check out Ryan Homes at Brunswick Crossing’s Here's What To Get At The Grocery Store (And When It's Best).

Pack leftovers. What to buy at the grocery store for dinner? Something you can make leftovers from. If you have extras from a healthy dinner, pack them for your child’s lunch the next day. Remember to ask your school district about using the microwave in the cafeteria to reheat leftovers.

Make food last longer. Many families avoid buying fresh fruits, vegetables, and deli meat and cheese because it goes bad before they’re ready to eat it. To avoid this expensive struggle, check out our blog, 8 Super Simple Tips To Storing Groceries The Right Way. We detail which foods to refrigerate and freeze, when to throw food out, and where to buy local ingredients.

Don’t stress. Pinterest can be intimidating when you see stay-at-home parents create Disney icons out of sandwich bread or homemade sushi. While these creative ideas are worthwhile if you have the time, your kid probably won’t notice the difference when it comes to taste. Save yourself the stress and time by making a basic school lunch that’s nutritious and delicious.

Tip: If you still want to add a personal touch without carving into your routine, write an encouraging note on a napkin. This old-school parenting technique is great for little ones who need some extra love while away at school.