Inspiring Independence and Healthy Choices Through the BYO Routine
Alright, moms and dads, it is that time again. You all know what we are talking about. School is back in session and that means one thing for us parents…nine and a half months of lunch making duties ahead. The consensus from all parents here at Green Kid Crafts is that lunch making is the absolute worst. Seriously, the worst. We all start out inspired and motivated to make the most healthy and nutritious lunches and by March, we are all hopping on the good ol’ lunchable train.
Warning: This article is not going to make you feel guilty about not buying organic food. While organic is a great choice, we all know that most times, getting the kids to even eat what you make is the hardest challenge. Let’s work on easing the burden on you and encouraging self-sufficiency first.
After countless mornings of scampering, asking each kid what they want, we decided we didn’t want to do that this year. We are putting our feet down. What other things could be done in those 20 minutes? A shower, a meditation, a quick workout, a hot cup of coffee? All sound better than packing lunches off the cuff every morning.
Our suggestion: set yourself and your kids up for success in packing their own lunches. Provide an opportunity in a way that the kids are excited about it. Bins are the most genius life hack we have encountered. Not only do we use bins in the fridge to organize and make things more accessible for the kids (and LaCroix for mom!) but bins specifically for building lunches are truly heaven sent.
Here are the “deets” to get you on your way to lunch packing freedom, friends! PRE-FILLED LUNCH BINS. The kids get to choose at least one item from each bin to build their own lunch and we get the assurance that our kids are getting a nutritious lunch.
- Bin 1: Dairy – Our bin with yogurt tubes and string cheese is one of the most frequented in the house. This bin is one of those where the kids can have something sweet or savory while you can still give yourself an internal mom high-five because these items still have nutritional value. Jokes on you, kids.
- Bin 2: Fruit – Another favorite hack of ours is washing and cutting up the kids’ favorite fruit before the week starts. Combine this super easy and time-saving task with packaging it in small reusable containers and throwing them into a bin. The kids can then pick which fruit they want for the day and voila, vitamins galore!
- Bin 3: Veggies – Using the same method we use for fruit, choose the few veggies the kids will actually eat, pre-portion and throw into a bin.
- Bin 4: Protein – Whether your kids like sandwiches or wraps or other forms of protein, these can also be pre-prepped and portioned out into a bin for kids to grab whichever item they feel like that day. Ideas include deli meat, hard boiled eggs, pepperoni, various sandwiches, nuts, etc.
- Bin 5: Grains – Our kids usually like to take some type of grain with their lunch, especially if they aren’t having a sandwich. Some suggestions include pre-packaged mini-muffins, crackers, fiber breakfast cookies or a granola bar.
- Bin 6: Treats! – We always give our kids a treat option for lunch. Sometimes that looks like a piece of Halloween candy and sometimes it looks like a piece of banana bread. Other times, they like a few chips. Something they really enjoy that they get to choose gives them the power over their decisions.
We still get control over what they consume but they get to choose what items they pick, giving them a sense of ownership.
So why does this work and how does this make things easier?
- Variety – We aren’t sure about you but we get in a rut and end up making the same thing every day. This system allows our families to switch things up if they wish. We offer a wide variety of healthy food so whatever they choose, their nutritional needs are met.
- Convenience – Families are busier than ever before these days between school, sports, clubs, and other extracurriculars. Our time in the morning is better spent making sure we all feel prepared and organized for the day. This system allows the kids to prepare lunch for themselves quickly and contribute to the systemic flow of the family. We believe our kids should contribute to our family as a whole in the ways they can. This is a great opportunity for them to do so.
Variety and convenience can be two elements that parents struggle with as we raise our families, especially with the day to day. Let’s take it where we can get it, shall we?
You can find bins for these lunch options on Amazon but we like these. (Bonus: they are stackable!) Plop a piece of tape on there as a label and your bins are complete. As always, Green Kid Crafts aims to be as green as possible and we LOVE the aspect of using reusable containers for packaging up the food in these bins. You can find reusable sandwich size, snack size, and even containers for liquid options almost anywhere.
For more fun hacks for parents and ideas for kids, please check out our blog!
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Written by: Erin Mongiello