The stores are filled with back to school supplies and uniforms. Now back in the day one of your biggest decisions was what lunch box would you carry this year. Over the years, more and more kids have put away their brown paper bags and lunch boxes for the meals served at the school. Especially once restaurants like Chipotle began to serve at local high schools. However, more parents are looking for healthier options for their kids with the rise in allergies and concerns regarding childhood obesity. Honestly, Mom and Dad should think about packing their own lunch too for the same reasons.
Let’s start with the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Chobani continues to innovate on the yogurt aisle. The Mixed Berry Morning “Flip” was great, but now I am anxious to try their Sunrisin’ Raisin which features brown sugar, bran flakes, and honey praline pumpkin seeds. Just because it is good for you, doesn’t mean it can’t be sweet, does it? Just say yes! With 20 flavors to choose from, parents can find something to cover each of their picky eaters.
You can up the nutrition value by stirring in a spoon (ok maybe two) of KIND’s Cinnamon Oat Clusters with Flax Seeds. This healthy grain option is 100 percent whole grains and a full serving (1/3 cup) provides 28 percent of the recommended daily fiber. Sounds like you are easily killing two birds with one stone.
Sending Johnny off to school with just grapes, salad and carrots will lead to a grumpy fella. A growing boy (and girl) needs protein and highly processed lunch meat is not really a good choice. A roll-up covered with ready to eat beans, with shredded cheese and a couple of crunchy veggies. The perfect choice – and there are several varieties available – comes from The Better Bean Company which features 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. But look Johnny does not care about the healthy factor, they want to know how does it taste. The answer is very good! My favorite was the Roasted Chipotle Red Beans but trust me it is spicy. They suggest serving it in tacos or burrito bowls. When the North Dallas Gazette team tried it, we simply enjoyed it with crackers. You can find it at your local Whole Foods, Central Market or Natural Grocers or betterbeanco.com.
Charlie has gotten pretty fancy in recent years. Just when I was learning to love the single serve Starkist Tuna Creation in Lemon Pepper, now the brand is spicing things up. The 12 flavors now include Thai Chili Style, Jalapeno and Hot Buffalo Style. Can you even remember the last time you had tuna with mayo? Me either.
Just like you ditched the mayo, skip the bread or tortilla and add a several of the tasty almond flour crackers from Simple Mills. The NDG team scarfed down the Smoky BBQ Cheddar Almond Flour Crackers with the spicy tuna and it was a perfect match. But the lemon pepper tuna with the Cracked Black Pepper Almond Flour Crackers was a great answer on a day too hot to think about cooking.
Of course, fresh fruit is a great choice, but sometimes it can be a little messy. Natierra Nature’s All Foods offers a variety of Organic Freeze Dried options. My preference was the strawberries, but the apples were good too. They are not only good for you, but several of the company’s other products are a part of their Feed A Soul Project. Look for specially marked bags with the Buy One Bag Feed One Child logo, to support their Haitian program to feed a child when bought.
Sure water is probably the best thing for your child’s lunch box, but admit it that can be a bit boring. It seems the food gods which elevated kale to superfood stardom has designated the Orange Mango as the go to healthy beverage this fall. NDG received no less than three different variations:
- True Lemon, a single serve drink mix you can add to your bottled water, is available in ten flavors including True Orange Mango Orange. They have a fruit flavor to appeal to almost everyone: including True Lime Watermelon Aqua Fesca and True Lime Black Cherry Limeade;
- If you prefer organic options try CVS’s private label brand Gold Emblem abound Organic Orange Mango juice boxes;
- Spindrift offers seven unsweetened sparkling water with real fruit juice flavors to choose from, including Orange Mango.
Sure you go to with the brown paper bag and that would a nice green idea, but what about what you put in the bag. Instead of buying those disposable plastic sandwich bags, for $7 get a set of RUSSBE bags. They are environment-friendly, reusable bags in cute colors, adding to their “coolness” factor. Yes, that matters. Another idea is their Bento containers with the cute little utensils.
Another option for snack containers are the Snack Stacks from Re-play. The come in colorful stackable containers which are great for small snacks like nuts, chopped up fruit. Created from recycled milk jugs, you are doing something good for the environment too.
These days every back to school list includes facial tissue, but Kleenex is stepping up their game and now have something suitable for the lunchbox. The new MultiCare Tissues are large and strong enough to replace the typical flimsy cafeteria kitchen napkins. Available via Amazon Prime, CVS, Walmart, Walgreens and more. Most likely you can expect to see plenty of coupons to tempt you to try them soon.