While I’d LOVE to take credit for this, I can’t. Instead, I’ll give credit to all the creative moms out there who can think like this on their own. With our five kids going to public school, bringing lunch from home is a must. But it’s never been easy. What I deem appropriate for a lunch box is hardly what my children desire. Then, Greg told me about an image he saw on social media that illustrated how one mom took charge on helping her kids build a better lunch. I never saw the image, but I didn’t need to. It was enough to get my brain going.
Now, with a little sorting help from our son, Walter, I was able to conquer the pain-in-the-butt that is helping our kids to make halfway nutritious lunches from home. I started thinking in categories like: fruit, dairy, cheese, meat/protein, veggie, salty carb and/or sweet carb. Then I sorted items that I wanted to offer in each category and LABELED them! Now each child can pluck one item from each “bucket” and be guaranteed a well-rounded lunch. AND … wait for it… it only takes our kids less than 2 minutes to make their own lunch!!! BooYah!
First I chose two easy veggies: baby carrots and celery sticks. Our kids are not real big on veggies, but seeing it so neatly organized just made it attractive. I have to work with what I can here. So far it seems to be working. There are clearly less veggies in the bucket only a few days in.
Next, I selected at least four quick grab fruits. Since apples and oranges are naturally one serving, only the red grapes had to be put into snack baggies.
Now for the slightly expensive option.. non-refrigerated sources of protein. We choose our favorite brand of protein bars which are sweet. Then, we provided a saltier protein bucket that contains options like beef jerky (portioned into snack baggies) and canned tuna and chicken. I seriously doubt the kids would go for the tuna or chicken, but Greg surely might. If those protein options don’t work, then I’m ready for that too since I try to keep deli meat, cheese and/or turkey pepperoni in fridge.
And probably the buckets of most fun are the carb buckets. One for salty based carbs like single portions of ritz crackers, goldfish crackers and pretzels, etc. And the other for sweeter carbs like chewy granola, rice crispy treats, etc.
I know what you might be thinking. These are a lot of options. Eh, you’re probably right. These are not as nutritious as it could be. Yep, you’d be right there too. I’m not a fitness guru who avoids all processed foods. I’d like to be, but I’m not. I’m just a regular mom who wants to feed our kids with the best options I can come up with and afford. With our five kids needing to build a lunch that will sustain them through a seven hour day PLUS help provide quick solutions for their after school feeding frenzy, this seems like a good compromise for all appetites involved.
Now I’m sure the mysterious other woman who came up with the original masterful organization of back to school lunch food items had the more Pinterest worthy presentation. But I’m more than pleased with our “make do with whatever buckets we can find around the house approach.” So far, so good! Thanks lady, whoever you are 🙂
just curious… What’s your kids favorite protein bar?
Great question. We toggle between Life’s Choice Peanut Butter Extreme w/ 18g Protein (avail at Walmart) and Pure Protein’s Chocolate Peanut Butter w/ 20g of protein (avail in Walmart, Target, some other grocery stores). These work well because there are no peanut allergies in our household.
I have a very picky son in the 11th grade and we struggle for what to pack him for the protein part of lunch. I never thought of protein bars until I saw this post. He likes granola bars so I think we can get him to eat a protein bar. Thanks for the idea (and I hope it will save a bit of money over the beef jerky).