How To Pack Your Kids' Lunch with Confidence
Whether it's for school, summer camp or something in-between, packing lunches is a common task for parents. Is it an enjoyable task? It depends who you ask...
As a nutritionist and toddler mama, I'm here to share some tips for packing lunches and feeling good about it.
First of all, don't let this task stress you out.
Your child's lunch doesn't need to be a work-of-art or anywhere near "perfect," it just needs to meet their individual needs for the day...and who knows their needs best? You do.
Packing lunches can and should be SIMPLE and I'm going to show you what that looks like.
My kids are attending summer day camp for the entire month of July, which means I'm packing their lunches 20 times this month. I like to think of this as 20 opportunities to get creative in the kitchen!
If you're in the same boat, here are a few tips to get organized:
Try a sectioned lunch box that makes organization a little easier; they can also help you to remember what/how much to pack; we are currently using bento boxes by Kiddy Planet (shown above)
focus on functional foods above all else - this means protein, complex carbs + healthy fats - the elements of a meal that are most satiating & supportive
aim for mostly whole foods with a sprinkling of packaged products for convenience
consider the quality of the products you're using (read labels carefully and check for sugar, sodium & fibre content)
keep it simple!
When it's time to make their lunch, consider this:
kids between the ages of 4-9 need 19g of protein each day (that's less than one chicken breast!) *keep reading for more info
toddlers <4yrs need around 13g of protein, or the equivalent of 2 boiled eggs
carbs are an essential fuel source that kids need throughout the day
complex, high-quality carbs (ex. whole grains) are more beneficial than anything processed/white (ex. bread, rice, crackers)
complex carbs are full of FIBRE, which will keep your kids full, balance their blood sugar + help their bowels stay "regular"
add something small, fun & exciting to surprise them - my go-to this week has been low-sugar gummies by Smart Sweets
if you're adding a fruit of veggie, opt for a veggie - kids eat better around their peers so this may be a good opportunity for them to explore
Here are some kid-friendly protein sources, if you need a few new ones since nuts are out of the question:
WOW Butter - toasted soy butter that looks similar to peanut butter but is nut-free
cheese - cheese sticks, slices, cream cheese
boiled egg or egg salad
chicken fingers (I use these gluten-free PC ones)
rolled up turkey slices
legumes - beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas (if your child is more adventurous!)
whole grain bread
I hope this helps ease your mind a bit. Please remember there is no "wrong" or "right" when it comes to feeding little people, we simply have to do what we believe is best for them.
There's lots more to come on this topic, so please stay tuned!
If you're looking for more inspiration or details on what I pack each day, come find me on Instagram!
Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), real food advocate, toddler mama