Great Lunches to Give Your Kids for School

Great Lunches to Give Your Kids for School

Although you may have had good reasons for doing it differently based on the circumstances, the simple reality is that you can pack a cheaper and healthier lunch for your kids to eat at school than most schools provide.  And believe it or not, there are lots of great lunches that you can give your kids for school that they will love and that will also not be too time-consuming for you to pack.  Here are some of our best ideas!

 

Healthy and Balanced

The Basics of What to Pack for a School Lunch

Think carbohydrates, protein, fruits and vegetables.  That’s it.  Those are the four basic essentials that your kid needs for a healthy and balanced school lunch and here is why: growing bodies and developing brains use a lot of energy and your kids need carbohydrates to keep their energy levels up.  Most active kids will appreciate some heavier energy-packed carbohydrates in the form of a sandwich, crackers or a granola bar.  The healthy part is balancing those carbohydrates with fruits and vegetables.

 

Keeping it Real

Tricks for Easy School Lunches

Kids are also not always reliable for bringing home the lunchbox, let alone any packing containers!  We recommend that you stay away from packing lunches in anything more than a plastic bag so that expensive storage containers don’t get lost or accidentally thrown away.  Because we know that there is a balance between healthy and practical, here are some easy items to stock in your pantry for adding to your kids’ school lunches that will help to make your job easier!

  • Rice cakes – inexpensive and they come in chocolate, caramel, apple cinnamon, sea salt, cheddar and more!
  • Pre-packaged, single serving, peanut butter crackers or other combinations
  • Box of crackers or bag of chips that you can portion out into a snack bag
  • Pre-packaged string cheese
  • Pre-packaged granola bars
  • Pre-packaged Go-gurt – it doesn’t need a spoon.

Of course, the less pre-packaged and the more you purchase in bulk, the more you will be able to make affordable school lunches for your kids.

 

Five Lunch Combos

Ideas You Can Work With

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple slices, carrot sticks
  • Deli meat sandwich, mandarin orange and cucumber slices
  • Crackers, pepperoni slices, cheese stick, bell pepper slices and grapes
  • “Ants on a log” (celery sticks filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins), rice cake, pear slices
  • Tortilla wrap with cheese and refried bean spread, avocado slices, peach slices

 

Some of these foods may be new tastes to your kids so feel free to add a fun snack to the meal such as a granola bar or those beloved gummies here and there as both a surprise and incentive for your kids as they explore some new healthy food choices.  These are just a few ideas, but we hope these suggestions will inspire you in creating terrific school lunches for your kids that are healthy, affordable, and enjoyable for your kids!

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Helping Out at School

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There's no question that school teachers have their hands full these days. Most classrooms have 30+ children, all demanding the attention of one teacher, and possibly one assistant. How does a teacher effectively educate children when there is teaching to be done, lesson plans to prepare, papers to grade, and repeating it all over again the next day? Schools have cut budgets time and time again, eliminating extra assistants, so how does a teacher do it? The answer is with parent volunteers.

Parents who wish to volunteer have been the saving grace for teachers, and make a big difference in the efficiency of the classroom. Assistance that is given to teachers - even simple things - is greatly appreciated. Even with a busy schedule, here are some ways parents can help make a positive impact in the school:

CLASS MOM/DAD
Class moms organize holiday parties, birthday celebrations, assist with arts, crafts and projects, organize fundraisers, accompany classes on field trips, deal with behavior issues and substitute in the classroom for short teacher breaks.

READING
Children love to hear stories. Reading books, poems, or even showing a video can get the class ready for afternoon studies. Some moms have recorded themselves reading books at home. Read-aloud programs offer opportunities to increase fluency. Volunteer in the library, by helping children find books, check-out and return books and shelving.

CENTER HELPER
Children learn best through hands-on experience. Parents who have experience in art, computers or science are perfect for center volunteers.

TUTORING
With the ride range of fluency levels in the classroom, individual attention to students who need aid in reading, math, or language can increase the academic performance of those on the lower end of the learning scale. After-school homework clubs have also been successful.

TEACHER ASSISTANT
Teacher assistants, even if volunteering for an hour per month, can grade student papers, take students to the restroom, supervise on the playground, distribute snacks or take in lunch money.

CLASS SPEAKER
Parents with a special area of expertise can speak to the class and share fun stories, experiences and occupational information.

EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Extra-curricular activities enhance learning experiences and fellowship outside of the classroom. Volunteers are needed in clubs, sports activities and booster clubs.

When parents are involved in the child's education, students receive higher test grades, may take more advanced courses, and are more likely to continue on to colleges or universities.

 

Make Taking Their Lunch Fun

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Kids are notoriously picky eaters. It's hard enough to make something they'll like for a meal at home, so how are you supposed to make your child's school lunch enjoyable and healthy at the same time? Here are some tips for you to help your child realize that bringing a lunch to school can be fun.

Bite Sizes

Smaller foods are often more fun to eat. Instead of giving your child a whole sandwich, cut it up into triangles. Rather than packing him a complete orange, section it out for him and put it in a small container.

Surprise Inside

Wanting your child to eat healthy doesn't mean that you can never give him junk food. Once a week, put a small candy bar or bag of chips in your child's lunch box. To make him even more excited, change the day each week so he won't know in advance.

Sectioned Containers

When you're a kid, food usually isn't very appetizing if it's touching other food. To make sure your child's crackers aren't contaminated with broccoli, use sectioned containers. This can also help your child like sandwiches better. Keeping all the sandwich ingredients separate will keep the bread from getting soggy.

Same Meal, Same Day

If your child really wants whatever is being served at school, pack them the same thing. For instance, you could pack your child English muffins, spaghetti sauce, shredded cheese, and sandwich meat so they can make their own pizzas on pizza day.

Themes

Choosing a theme for your child's noon-time meal can make eating away from home more enjoyable for him. You could choose to only pack green food for a day, then only give him circular food the next. You could even make food from a certain culture.

Notes

Pack a note with your child's food every day to make it more fun. The notes could hint at what you're planning to make for supper, or they could each contain a word for your child to arrange into a sentence once he has them all. Simple puzzles are fun for older children.

You can pack foods with a certain theme or just stick a bite size candy bar in your child's bag once a week. Either way, your child might resist taking food from home at first, but he'll start to enjoy it once he realizes how fun it can be.

 

Getting Ready for School (Yea!)

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With fall quickly approaching, many moms can become daunted by the idea of beginning the school year without enough supplies and clothing that will last for the next nine months. With enough preparation and budgeting, it can become easier to afford clothing and supplies for multiple children without having to cut corners.

Save Money on School Supplies

Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the long list of supplies requested by your kids' new teachers, plan ahead by clipping coupons and stocking up when deals are available during the summer and when the supplies are in low demand. Ditch the dollar store when looking for crayons and pencils for preschoolers, which are low-quality and will likely need to be replaced after just a few uses.

Companies like Wal-Mart and Best Buy also work to price match, making it easier to make larger purchases for teenagers, who may need more than the family computer. Simply bring in the ad from a competing store to obtain the same price by either of the retailers.

Prepare for the year by shopping with stores' discount programs, such as Cartwheel at Target, which can help rake in more savings. You can use any coupons and your Target Red card savings (5% off) in addition to the Cartwheel discounts. Target often has their own coupons online for products which are also on sale that week, so a little prep work can save money.

Buy Used Items

Purchasing used items at thrift stores, second-hand stores, or even yard sales can provide an effective way of getting enough clothing for the entire year. It will make it easier to stay current with the latest styles for teens without feeling bad about how many items are purchased.

Try to pass down clothing through siblings as much as possible, which will relieve extra pressure on the budget and make use of quality items.

Stock Up By Doubling Coupons

If you are lucky enough to have stores in your area that double coupons, take advantage! Several blogs and newsletters provide information on when specific stores have products that are selling at low prices by doubling coupons. Purchasing pencils, folders, and even uniforms for kids in grade school can cost less with both a store coupon and manufacturer coupon used, making it easy to stock up and never pay full price.

Exchange Uniforms

Uniforms can often be the most expensive purchase when it's time to prepare for the coming year, costing hundreds of dollars on pieces that can only be worn for several months to a year. Take advantage of uniform exchange programs, consulting with consignment stores or even looking online.