*The Mixing Bowl received product or payment in exchange for this post or the post contains affiliate links. The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and may differ from yours.*
We are officially in the back to school swing! It’s been a few weeks and some routines are down to a science while others still need some work. So, where does your lunch box status stand? This is usually the time of the year that my kids start complaining about what’s in their lunches. A very short two weeks in and I am already getting complaints. Well, since I know the drill, I tried to be a bit more prepared this year with some new and unique options to spice up their lunches.
Our school district that many do not have options for keeping lunches cold and it has been strongly suggested that ice packs are not put into lunch boxes. I’m not sure the exact reason but after being told more than once you probably need to listen (or fight the man, whichever floats your boat, I am more of a pleaser when it comes to the school). That means new lunchbox essentials. Sure, there is the common sandwich, veggies and maybe a ranch cup, a piece of fruit, perhaps some chips and a water. Those have been are staple lunch essentials for years. Most of it a good choice but kids want choices that may not be so good for them. As a mom, I want my kids to have the best options possible that taste good.
So I stepped outside the box, or at least outside the box for my kids and these are my top 3 non-chilled lunch essentials. They add flavor and variety without totally tanking the nutrition of the lunch.
- Popcorn. A simple idea right? I don’t know why it took me so long to think of this but it did. My kids love the crunchy snack sized bags of chips but those are not that good for them so why not pack a bag of popcorn for a healthier snack that is in the chip range. I find that popcorn kernels you can pop at home are the best way to go because you control everything about the toppings (butter and salt). I pop 1-2 cups of kernels at the beginning of the week, store the extra in a airtight bag or container and use it multiple times through the week. If there is time I get the kids involved and we add some toppings for them. We use cinnamon (and a hint of sugar) for a sweet treat, some cheese sprinkles for a savory treat, or do the standard salt and butter. No matter the way it’s prepared, my kids love the variety.
- Freeze-dried Fruit. Fruit is a standard in most lunches but how often has half an apple or an untouched orange come home? It happens a fair amount in my house and the usual reason is there is not enough time to eat it all or even get to it. Or the piece of fruit is too big or hard to eat at school. I am sure I have heard every excuse in the book. So, why not spice it up and try some freeze-dried fruits. I say freeze-dried because there is no added sugar like in regular dried fruit and in an airtight container it stays crisp and crunchy. Freeze-dried fruits come in all the varieties of standard fruit, just in pieces that are easy and fun to eat. You can pair it with some jerky for a protein packed snack or mix a bunch of different fruits for a freeze-dried fruit salad. You can even eat them straight from the bag. My favorite brand is Crispy Green because they are natural, sweet, and come in a variety of fruits. Each bag of Crispy Green freeze-dried fruits is a 1/4-1/2 cup of fruit and tastes amazing. I love the tangerine, mango and pineapple slices! Learn more about Crispy Green here.
- A Juice Box. Well, yea is probably what you are thinking. This is a new thing for me because I was never quite happy with the juice box options that were available. And my kids loved the pouch drinks and I did not want them taking those with them every day. We tried taking a thermos with juice in it but that became too much of a hassle with dishes and leaking among other things. Solution: start taking water. A good option because my kids like water but it gets boring quick, especially when friends all have juice boxes. So, I went on the hunt and have found that Juicy Juice has really stepped up its juice box game and they are perfect for lunches. Juicy Juice is one of the juices I was good with my kids drinking and now they had juice boxes. And I am not just talking about their standard 100% juice boxes, those have been around for a while and we would get them on occasion but they now had smaller boxes and pouches! I love the smaller boxes for the little ones. They are the perfect size without winding them up too much for the rest of the day and they are organic. A great tasting and organic juice box that is lunch box size! Then there are the pouches. Juicy Juice has taken their juice flavor combinations and mixed them with water to create a juice blend called Splashers. They are geared toward the older kids who want a pouch to drink from and have more flavor combinations (think berry lemonade and peach mango) with less sugar content and great taste. I even take the Splashers with me from time to time. They are so good! Learn more about all the juice box/pouch options that Juicy Juice has here.
My kids are loving their new lunch box options and I am one happy mom because they are still getting good and healthy food in their lunch. Some of this may seem a bit obvious but they are new here and we love it.
What are your unique healthy lunch options? I would love to hear more ideas!