Alarm clock (snooze, need 5 more mins, please, just 5 more!), open eyes, quick coffee, feeling tired, no time for more coffee, no time for anything, dress up kids, kids breakfast, do the lunch boxes… what to pack today?! It’s one of those hectic mornings after the lovely summer break when kids are back to school and you are trying to get your life back to normal (when you really want to prolong the lazy mornings and the summer feeling). Everything seems fine until you get to the point of prepping the kids’ lunch boxes. What do I pack, how do I make sure they’ll eat well and have a healthy option, how to add more of their 5 a day? Below is our Guide to healthy and eco-friendly lunch boxes.
Don’t leave it to the last minute
If you have such a hectic morning you are more likely to pack junk/ ready-made food quickly. Make sure plan your kid’s lunch box ahead, so you are not running short of time in the morning. Boiling eggs in advance, for instance will save you 7-10 mins. So do as much as you can in advance: grate cheese, wash fruits and vegetables, prepare snack mixes, and dips, cut grapes into clusters, place juice boxes in the freezer etc. The best thing to do is to plan the week ahead and make sure each evening you do the prepping for the next morning’s lunch box. That way you will have a chance to plan better what your children are eating and ensure a healthy diet.
Kids love cooking, so do it together!
Involve kids in preparing their lunch boxes: they are more likely to eat what they’ve prepared. Discuss the weekly lunch menu with them, advise them about healthy option but also listen to their preferences. Keep a list of their favourites when you do your grocery shopping. Try new recipes and fun ideas over the weekend, which you can then do during the week days.
Storage and packaging
Who has time in the morning to rush around looking for plastic containers, not to mention a matching lid (always an issue in our house). Before the school year begins, treat yourself to a new set of sustainable lunch boxes. Store them where the kids can reach, with zip-top bags, lunch bags, thermoses, wood craft sticks for spreading, plastic spoons, forks, napkins and straws. Every so often check to see if it’s time to re-stock or even better ask the kids.
My new finding here is the Box Apettit from Black + Blum, kindly privided to me to try. It is more like a ceramic bowl than your standard food container and with better functionality. The ‘glass like’ lid locks to the body for a water tight seal and has an ingenious sauce dipping area (good for sushi lovers). A sauce pot is ideal for salad dressing (or ketchup), so you can dress your salad just before you eat it. An inner dish allows you to split different foods so you can microwave a hot dish, but keep other foods cold. We have also included a fork / knife for easy one handed eating. It’s made from polypropylene and copolyester(BPA free) and includes sauce pot, inner dish and fork.
Stainless steel lunch containers, such as the LunchBots Uno and Duo containersare are non toxic, environmentally friendly, durable alternative to plastic, but they are also easy to use and easy to clean. Just what a busy mom needs!
I also like Kids Konserve lunch box options. They provides an entire lunch kit which is eco friendly. The eco friendly lunch box comes with a cotton sack, 2 stainless steel containers, stainless steel water bottle, food kozy and cloth napkin. Their food grade containers are easy to clean. The lunch kit encourages you to reuse which is a step towards doing good to our planet. Check out more on www.kidskonserve.com. These lunch kits are very trendy and stylish too.
Keeping lunch tasty
Keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold and sandwiches from getting soggy. Keep a small water spray bottle filled with lemon juice and water
in the fridge. Spray the cut apples and other fruits before packing to keep them fresh and prevent them from going brown. The most important here is your choice of a suitable lunch box, so be wise when spending money on that.
Credit crunch friendly
You don’t need to be overspending for a Lunch box if you want your kids to eat healthy. It’s more about the right selection of food, making sure you’ve packed ingredients from each food group:
Proteins: meat, fish, diary products, eggs
Carbohydrates: wholemeal bread, pasta, rise
Vitamins: Plenty of fruits and vegetables both fresh and cooked
Also don’t forget to add healthy drinks: fresh water and/ or freshly-squeezed juice (add a few lemon drops to preserve it naturally). My oreferred option for storing the drinks are the Klean Kanteen® Classic bottles. They are small and lightweight, which is great when space is limited. Its perfect size allows your kid to take it anywhere. So keep the kids happy with an easy-to-hold, spill-proof drink at lunch. It’s actually a versatile option for both kids and theirs mums.
Those little things
What I like most is adding something personal to the lunch box each day. Would it be a funny note on the top of the box, a post card to say how much I love my kid (and to be a good girl), my drawing of her eating her lunch… Get creative and do it with your heart! Such little gestures helps kids feel special and loved by their parents, so don’t be afraid to show them your love even when they are away from you.
When it comes to sustainability, use those very simple rules:
You don’t need to place every single ingredient in a separate bag. Try reusable lunch containers (find an eco-friendly and BPA-free option), as well as reusable bags, stainless steel bottles, etc.
Go for easy-to-recycle options
If you are unable to find reusable options for all the items you’d need for the lunch box, try sourcing items easy to recycle. These might be bamboo cutlery set, recycled-paper napkins, etc. Bamboo forks and spoons are excellent choice as they are stronger than wood, heat and stain resistant, and won’t absorb flavours. Try to purchase ones made of organically grown bamboo.
Forget about the packed ready-made snacks. Add fresh fruits as a snack option, cucumber/ carrot pieces with humus or avocado dips, cheese pieces with home-made bread rolls and fresh salad.