School is back in session, which means many of us are back to the daily routine of packing lunches for our children.

It can be a real challenge sometimes for a variety of reasons, so I’ve got a few tips that will hopefully make it a little easier to pack healthy, inexpensive, and enjoyable lunches. 

  1. Purchase your kids’ favorite foods in bulk and package them yourself instead of buying pre-packaged snacks.

It’s amazing how much money this can save you!   For example, you can find a large container of pretzels for a fraction of the cost per serving that you pay when you buy the tiny 100 calorie snack bags. It’s easy to bag the individual servings yourself {you can even do it ahead of time so you still have the convenience of just grabbing a bag and tossing it into the lunchbox each morning}, and you also have the option of adding more or less than the suggested serving size based on your child’s needs and appetite.

  1. Pay attention to what fruits and vegetables are in season and use those instead of buying the same produce year round.

First of all, produce that’s in season just tastes better! The strawberries available in December just aren’t going to be very good and I wouldn’t blame my child for not wanting to eat them. But oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and clementines are delicious at that time of year! Right now, apples of all varieties are in season. Fresh, seasonal fruit tastes best, which means your kids will like it more.   Plus, things are less expensive when they’re in season, so you’ll end up spending less on your fruits and veggies too.

  1. Freeze Tampico juice in ice cube trays and use it in your child’s thermos in place of regular ice.

It can be a challenge keeping drinks cold until lunchtime.   I know in our family, we either have the problem of not using enough ice, so the drink gets warm and my son doesn’t want it, or using too much ice and having it taste watered down. So here’s the solution! Let’s say your child is taking Tampico Citrus Punch in his or her thermos. If you also make Citrus Punch ice cubes, when they melt, they don’t dilute the yummy flavor! You can use as many cubes as you need. Problem solved!

  1. Pack foods that are a variety of colors.

Believe it or not, “eating the rainbow” is one way to make sure you and your children are getting great nutrition. Plus, the visual appeal helps to keep kids interested and may motivate them to eat more of the things you want them to be eating in their lunches. For example, try mixing together strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries for a fun, healthy fruit salad.

  1. Make it easy for kids to “play with” their food while eating it.

When children feel free to interact with the food they’re eating, they’re more likely to enjoy the meal time and will actually eat more of the healthy things you pack for them. For example, pack pretzel sticks and grapes and encourage them to make “lollipops” out of them. Teach them to let their goldfish crackers “swim” into their mouths, or encourage them to make “ants on a log” with celery sticks, peanut butter, and raisins. When they are able to be active and creative, they may be willing to eat things they otherwise would refuse, plus you’re stimulating their imagination at the same time! 

I hope you find these tips helpful! I also shared some fun printable lunchbox notes last month that I hope you’ll download and use to remind your kids how loved they are every time they open their lunchboxes. Here’s to a great school year full of happy kids and healthy lunches!