Yolanda Thomas is the owner and founder of YoLunch, a Hampton Roads small business that empowers parents and kids to make healthy lunches, and offers the convenience of YoLunch meal box delivery direct to your door.
Before having my oldest son, I never thought twice about packing a lunch. For my own work lunch, I simply use leftovers from dinner, purchase an expensive lunch out, or grab an array of snacks from home that will keep me full while I am at work. Well to my surprise, packing lunch for a child has a lot more variables.
For a child’s lunch you have the following constraints:
1. Can’t refrigerate lunch items
2. Can’t warm up items
3. Has to be eaten in 20 minutes
4. Has to be spill proof
5. Cannot smell awful
6. Has to be tasty
As a health conscience mom, I am adding #7….has to be nutritious.
The first three constraints have led to the popularity of packing sandwiches for kids’ lunches. They can be kept at room temperature and they are quick to eat. In addition, they are spill proof, they pack easily, and let’s face it – they are downright tasty and simple to make.
But what if your child has declared “no more sandwiches!” or you as a parent want to start introducing your child to a wider variety of foods to promote long term healthy habits. What do you pack? When do you grocery shop for these items, when do you prep lunch items, and when do you have the time to pack those lunches?
If you are like me or countless other moms that I talked to, you are (1) grocery shopping on the weekend, (2) prepping lunch items on a Sunday and during the middle of the week, and (3) packing those lunches after the kids go to bed. These 3-steps represent what I call “The Lunch Dilemma” which is the continual cycle of figuring out what to pack, buying the food, packing lunch, and then hoping that your child eats the lunch. Below are my top five tips to overcoming “The Lunch Dilemma”.
Top Five Tips to Overcome the Lunch Dilemma
1. Come up with a list of options under each food group that you can choose from to comprise a complete lunch. Choose a food option from each food group to make a complete lunch. This is a great step for kids to do.
2. Use step one to make a lunch menu for a complete week or up to two weeks worth of lunches.
3. Make your grocery list and stick to a grocery shopping day.
4. Prepare all fruits and vegetables for the entire week at one time. Keep fruits from turning brown by squeezing a tiny bit of lemon juice.
5. Pack 2 to 3 days of lunches at a time. This excludes sandwiches which should be packed the night before or in the morning.
*BONUS* Use two days out of the month to make freezer ready snacks that you can throw into your child’s lunch.