It’s that time of year again, time for the kids to head back to school and time for mom to start looking for some school lunch box ideas. We’ve packed a lot of lunch boxes over the years in our house, and I’d love to share some of my favorite school lunchbox ideas, tips and tricks with you.
Between my two kids we have picky eating, slow eating, food allergies and food sensitivities. Basically buying lunch isn’t really a thing around here. The school day is so packed, and lunchtimes are so short, that I try to pack as much bang for my buck as I can into my kids’ lunches. Over the years I’ve learned what works, and what doesn’t work for my family. Hopefully some of my tips and tricks can help your family with your lunchbox routine. Thanks so Horizon Organic for sponsoring this post.
School Lunch Box Ideas
If I were to give one piece of advice when it comes to packing school lunches it would be to pack food that you know your kids will eat. Not the broccoli you hope they will eat, but the foods you know they will happily gobble up. The school day is long, and those little tummies and brains need fuel, so packing foods they are guaranteed to eat is a great way to go.
My next piece of advice, try to keep the time that kids have to spend opening packages to a minimum. I still remember visiting my oldest daughter at kindergarten for lunch one day and being a bit shocked at how much time was spent with kids trying to open packages or containers, or trying to get a duty aide or teacher to help them do so. I saw a lot of kids skip items they couldn’t open quickly. Shortly after that cafeteria visit I started packing lunches into what was a makeshift bento box, before bento boxes became all the rage for lunch boxes.
Some of our bento and bento style lunch containers over the years.
With this type of container my kids can open the lids and immediately start eating. This instantly increased the amount of food they would eat during their lunch period. I always tell my girls to leave any uneaten food in their lunch box, which is very easy to do with this type of bento lunch box style container. Why do I want them to leave leftover food in the box? I can tell how much they ate, what they ate and what is just not working, and adjust accordingly.
While I certainly don’t do it on a daily basis, for special days like the first day of school, birthdays or even when there’s a big test, I’ll get a bit creative with mini cookie cutters and cut up some melon in shapes. It actually is quite simple and it looks adorable. It’s a fun little surprise that my girls have always loved. The scraps become a part of my lunch, or breakfast!
Another thing that I’ve found to be important is protein. My kids do best when they have some protein in their meals. They stay fuller, have more energy and are better able to focus. I’ve also found with my youngest that artificial colors in foods have a bit of an impact on her behavior and concentation.
This is where I really depend on Horizon Organic products from the Natural Foods Department at my local Fry’s. I especially love Horizon Organic’s milks and cheeses which make it so easy to add protein to our lunches. The Natural Foods Department makes it easy to quickly shop for the items I need. I can get delicious products that they love, pack in some protein and avoid artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and GMOs.
Another lunchbox favorite of mine is including homemade baked goods, such as muffins. I make mini muffins which are easy to tuck into lunch boxes. My girls love these mixed berry muffins, made with fresh strawberries and raspberries (or whatever berries I have on hand), whole grains and milk.
These muffins are great for using up fresh berries that are pretty ripe and might not get eaten in time. This recipe makes about 36 mini muffins, and I often freeze most of the batch, pulling them out each morning as I’m packing lunches or snacks.
Berry Mini Muffins
- 1 cup flour - all-purpose, white whole wheat, or whole wheat pastry flour (or a combo of any of these)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup fresh berries chopped
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup Horizon milk
- 2 tbsp Horizon butter melted and slightly cooled
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup Horizon sour cream
- Preheat oven to 375 deg. F.
- Whisk dry ingredients in one bowl and set aside.
- Mix wet ingredients in another bowl. Add wet mixture to flour mixture, add in berries and chocolate chips, using a spatula to very gently fold mixtures together. Batter will be lumpy, do not over-mix.
- Spoon batter into greased or lined mini muffin tin and bake at 375 deg. F. for 10-12 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
I hope some of my school lunch box ideas can help your family with this year’s school lunch box routine. Make sure to pick up Horizon’s delicious products, which are perfect for lunch packing, at your local Kroger store. Wish everyone a happy and healthy school year!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine.