Eating healthy affects the whole family. Getting your kids involved helps them to understand better food choices to make.
Summer is coming to an end and school is about to start or did start for some. That of course means it’s time to get back into a school year routine. Part of that routine in many households is packing school lunches. Packed lunches are a great option when your child isn’t too fond of what the school has to offer or you want a little more control over what your child is eating.
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Of course, if your child has dietary restrictions or food allergies, packing lunches is a must. Frankly, packing a lunch allows you to include healthy foods your child will actually eat and it doesn’t have to cost any more than what you would be paying for lunch at school.
Packing a lunch every day doesn’t do any good if your child doesn’t eat it or ends up trading most of it away for junk food. The key then is to find things that your child loves and enjoys eating.
The best place to start is to get your child involved. Depending on the age of your kids, you could even put them in charge of making their own lunches. Not only do you know that they’ll pack something they will eat, being in charge of packing lunch will teach them responsibility.
Start by talking to your kids about what they want in their lunch box. Make a list of options and then head to the store so you have everything you need for the first week of school. Getting the kids as involved as possible will make sure that they end up with lunches they will eat. For older kids that may mean making their own lunches (under your supervision of course).
Younger children can help. Even your kindergartner can wash grapes and put them into a container or pick a snack for his or her lunch box. Get in the habit of making lunches together the night before. Over time you can give the kids more and more responsibility for their lunches. This alone will help make sure they eat what they’ve packed. After all, it’s the lunch they made. Along the way you’re teaching them independence and important life skills.
Of course you want to encourage your kids to pack and eat healthy foods. Insisting on all healthy, organic food options all the time may not be your best strategy though. Strike a balance and make compromises. If your kids pack and eat a healthy wrap or salad for example, let them have some cookies for dessert. Teach them to make good choices, but don’t freak out if they decide to pack some Cheetos or a pack of Oreo cookies. Your goal is to get them to eat fairly healthy and make smart food choices, not restrict all access to junk food, causing them to trade with friends for forbidden Twinkies.
Need recipe ideas for special dietary needs? See how Real Plans* can make your meal planning easier. I love using this program to simplify my meal planning and find recipes that are paleo and gluten free.
Below is a quick and nutritious recipe you and your kids will enjoy.
Italian Sausage & Broccoli Egg Muffins
1 lb. Italian Sausage or other meat of choice
1 Cup Broccoli Florets
1/2 Tbsp. Coconut or Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Milk or Milk Alternative
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
Note: If you follow a gluten free diet, be sure your baking powder is gluten free. As shared in “How to Establish a Safe, Gluten-Free Kitchen” on Dummies.com, this product often contains an ingredient that helps absorb moisture so the baking powder doesn’t clump. Some brands use wheat starch as that ingredient. Gluten-free baking powders include Rumford, Clabber Girl, Featherweight, and Bakewell Cream.
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
In a large pan, cook the sausage (or your meat of choice) until it’s no longer pink.
Remove from heat and add broccoli florets
In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk, oil, baking powder and salt and pepper.
Lightly coat your 12-cup muffin pan with butter, coconut oil or make your own spray oil as shared by organicauthority.com using olive oil and water -- mix together in a glass spray bottle 5 parts oil to one part water.
Spoon the meat mixture evenly into each tin.
Pour the egg mixture over the top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 F
Refrigerate lunch portions overnight and add to insulated lunch box in the morning. It’s portable and yummy! Need to buy an insulated lunch box, check out the selection here*.
Sides that can be included:
Jello with fruit at the bottom
Milk or Milk Alternative (see note above regarding milk)
* Disclosure: Some of the links may be affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.