Now that both of my kids are finally back in school (my son didn’t start until this past Monday 9/9!) my morning routine once again includes packing their lunch boxes with something that is not only healthy and nutritious, but also appealing to younger pallets.
My daughter’s bag is pretty easy to prepare, since she’s always been a good eater. She’ll try anything at least once and loves fruit & veggies, so whatever I put in there she’ll likely eat it. Well, that is except for cheese crackers which she says she hates, unless they are in the shape of Angry Birds or Monsters University, those she’ll gobble up in an instant!
My son though is a totally different story. He’s been a picky eater since he was a baby. His lunch box repertoire consists of PB&Js and quesadillas from home and twice a week he gets hot school lunches of chicken nuggets and pizza. That’s it. He won’t eat anything else. He doesn’t like mac & cheese, cold cut sandwiches, hamburgers, tuna fish or soup. The only veggies he eats are peas & carrots (and the MUST be together, not alone), broccoli and corn. Because of his finicky behavior, I always try to balance out his lunch bag with some healthy snack options, which sometimes is challenging because he doesn’t like to try new things.
So here are my current go-to lunch box friendly snacks that are not only healthy, nutritious and filling, but appetizing options to younger kids:
Apples – You know the old saying “An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away!” — it’s true! Either fresh or freeze-dried, apples are low in calories and contain no saturated fats or cholesterol and are a great source of fiber and Vitamin C for kids. I usually buy a container of pre-sliced apple bags from my local grocery store so I don’t have to cut them up myself in the morning before I’m fully awake – or else I’d slice my finger! We also stock up on dried apple snacks at our wholesale club or natural food store. Occasionally I’ll switch it up and include a squeezeable applesauce pouch in my kid’s bags, which are great because I often forget to include a plastic spoon with their applesauce cups!
Grapes – Sweet, healthy, juicy yet not messy, who doesn’t love them? It doesn’t matter if they are green, red or black, all grape varieties are a very good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K. I put pack a bunch in a small plastic container and place them in the freezer overnight so they can stay chilled in my kidlets’ bags until snack or lunchtime.
Oranges – Another great source of fiber and Vitamin C, oranges are also loaded with minerals. My daughter loves oranges, but she’s only three so she doesn’t have the dexterity to peel one herself so we either peel them for her and put them in a baggie or opt for store-bought mandarin orange fruit cups that are packed in water and avoiding the ones in sugary syrup. The same thing goes for pineapples, if your kids can take the tartness…
Yogurt – All the benefits of milk, but sometimes yogurt is easier for younger kids to digest because of all the enzymes it contains. Yogurt has also been found to help boost one’s immunity. There are so many yogurt varieties out there and now many are available in single serving tubes, so they’re easy to handle and no need to pack the lunch bag with a spoon!
Cheese – Like its dairy counterparts, cheese is high in calcium and Vitamin B12 which helps to develop strong bones and cartilage, which is important in growing children. But beware, some cheese can be high in fat and sodium, so stick to low-fat and low salt options. We recently got a variety of Frigo® Cheese Heads® String Cheeses from Saputo to try out in our household. I’ve put a few in my kidlet’s lunch bags and they are super easy for them to peel out of the plastic on their own. Their favorite is the part-skim mozzarella flavor while I’m personally partial to the Swirls® Cheese, which combines part-skim mozzarella with cheddar cheese.
Raisins – Don’t let their size fool you, they may be small but raisins are packed with a ton of concentrated flavor and nutrients. Raisins are also high in iron and antioxidants. It doesn’t matter if they are of the red or golden variety, the sweet flavor of raisins make them a great addition to kid-friendly foods including trail mix, granola and even cereal. My kids also like the yogurt covered kinds (the double whammy healthy snack), but make sure to check out the nutritional facts label since some brands have a lot of sugar in them, which sort of defeats the healthy snack purpose.
Now it’s your turn to share. What’s are your healthy go-to snacks to pack in your kids’ lunch bags?
For full disclosure: I was not compensated to include Frigo® Cheese Head® String Cheese from Saputo Cheese USA Inc. in this blog post. I did receive free product from Saputo to try out their product with my family. As always, the opinions expressed in this post and on The Harried Mom blog are all my very own and are not influenced in any way. Please do your own research before purchasing any products as your opinion may differ.
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