My Kids Lunch Box Strategy
Stumped about what to pack your kids for lunch? I’ve got some ideas and strategy for you. Read this blogpost to get the scoop on how to build a lunch box that is both kid AND nutritionist-approved.
My number one goal when it comes to packing kids’ lunch boxes is carb control.
The typical lunches I see kids eat are pretty much all carbohydrates which is not good for focus or behavior during the school day. Especially, as I suspect, they’ve likely had a carb-heavy breakfast, will have a carby snack and a lot of carbs at dinner. When we consider that ALL carbs turn to sugar, we’re creating little sugar energizer bunnies who can’t focus and are not getting sufficient nutrients to build strong bones, muscles and teeth.
On top of that, a lot the carbs these kids are getting are processed, sugary and full of preservatives and artificial dyes that affect brain function.
I’m gonna tell it to you straight, mama: you can’t get all mad at your kids for acting like jerks if you’re allowing them to fill up on Dr. Pepper and Skittles. Their brains are totally short-circuiting. Don’t underestimate the role of food in your kids’ behavior, focus, motivation and performance.
Now, I’m not suggesting you put your kids on a low-carb diet.
The two important takeaways are to be mindful of not overdoing the carbs and to choose better carb options.
When I’m working on meals to feed my family, I’m always trying to create a fairly balanced macronutrient plate with carbs, fat and protein. I start with a protein in mind and build around that. My kids only have one sandwich a week - on Fridays. Not that sandwiches are necessarily bad - depends what else is on the plate. I’m trying to teach my kids to recognize that there shouldn’t be too many “bready” things at one time. “Bready” includes the chips, pretzels, crackers and desserts. So on sandwich day, they don’t get those sides or a dessert. The bread IS the dessert.
I know...you’re thinking I’m a hard-ass. A little yes and a little no. My kids get way more sugar in a day than is probably prudent for someone in my profession. But in the overall context of their meals, I think we’re striking a nice balance.
Here’s what I always have on hand for lunches…
Nuts and seeds
Lunch meat (usually Applegate or organic turkey from Costco)
Hot dogs (Applegate)
Jerky or Salami (organic when I can find it)
Leftover grass-fed hamburger patties
I stick to veggies they like or are least likely to throw away! Ha! For my kids it’s carrots, cucumbers and peppers.
Gluten-Free Bread (Canyon Bakehouse or Udi’s)
Homemade sweet treat
From this list it’s simply a mix-and-match type strategy with the goal of keeping some macronutrient balance. We love our Planet Boxes and they have held up well over the last four years.
Take a look at these example lunches below for some inspiration.