Whether your kids are still schooling from home or you’re sending them back to campus, the start of a new school year always adds a little more chaos into parents’ schedules. Some of that chaos can revolve around trying to prepare lunches or snacks that are kid-friendly, convenient, and nutritious. With that, the SacFoodies team put our heads together to round up some of our favorite foods and share a few ideas that we hope can make packing lunches easier on you.
SacFoodes’ Favorite Snacks
- Tillamook Snack Portions
Tillamook (disclaimer: a FleishmanHillard client) offers single-serve snack portions of their delicious cheeses! These convenient little packs come in four different options: Sharp White Cheddar, Medium Cheddar, Colby Jack, and Smoked Black Pepper. Throw them into your kids’ lunchboxes or have them in a convenient location in your fridge for your kids to grab when they need a satisfying snack.
- California Prunes
If you haven’t yet introduced your kids to the wonders of California Prunes, now’s the time! They offer vitamins, minerals, and other healthy nutrients, plus they are deliciously sweet with no-added sugar. You can pack ‘em into small zip-top bags or cute containers for your kids to take on-the-go. Or, if you’re feeling a little more ambitious, you and the fam can make these easy Chocolate Energy Balls to enjoy throughout the week or try these California Prune Pinwheels for a quick afterschool snack. For more creative ways to incorporate prunes into your meals and snacks, check out our ideas available at CaliforniaPrunes.org (another FH client!)
- Bumble Bee Tuna
Always on the run with your kids to their practices, rehearsals, or other activities? Bumble Bee Seafoods (yes, another FH client!) offers conveniently packed snack kits that can help your kids fuel up before they jump into their afterschool activities. Bumble Bee’s Snack on the Run! Tuna Salad Kits include ready-to-eat tuna, crackers, and a handy spoon. With that, your kids can get the energy they need while keeping their mess to a minimum.
These snacks are great options – but what if your kids want more variety in their lunch boxes? No problem! One great idea is to give them choices. Vanessa – one of our team members – learned that giving her son a variety of choices for each component of his lunch would increase the likelihood that he would actually eat what was packed. “Instead of me asking a million questions about what he wants or doesn’t want, I created these trays in the fridge and categories in the pantry so he can ‘shop’ for his own food.” In her kitchen, she set up designated areas for him to choose from an array of beverages, extra proteins, fruits, snacks, and treats, which he packs along with his usual sandwich.
Looking at this from my good ol’ Dietitian perspective, in Vanessa’s situation, I see two great things that she achieved:
- As mom, she chose the types of food offered and made them readily available in organized and accessible sections of her kitchen.
- She let her son flex his independence by allowing him to make choices about the specifics of his lunch.
Both can make a difference when you want to make sure your children are choosing and eating nutritious foods, especially when they’re at school. Making certain foods more available (or less available) can help guide your child’s food choices. Letting them choose from different options lets them take personal ownership of what they eat for lunch (and gives you a less to do!).
This same idea can be applied to younger children too, but in smaller ways. You can give your littlest ones a choice between apples or oranges for their lunch. Both are great option and your child still feels like they get a say in what they eat and are more likely to eat it. Moreover, if you have a mix of younger and older kids, have your older ones set an example and teach the little ones!
Happy New School Year!