For those of you hoping to entice your children to eat more of school lunch this year, or for parents of new students, prettying up the lunchbox can make a big difference in how the weekday lunch goes over. So can portioning food properly, keeping it at the right temperature, and, in some cases, keeping different foods from “touching” (we’ve all met that kid, right?).
Here’s a peek at some great lunch containers and some of my favourite related accessories.
1. Laptop Lunches lunch kits: So organized, these little bento style boxes pack up in their own laptop case. Kit comes with a fork, spoon and BPA free drinking bottle. Perfect for little ones just starting out, but the containers may be a big small for older children. This kit keeps everything separated and “just so”.
2. Good quality Thermos: To keep lunches warm, use a stainless steel thermos and let it sit full of very hot water before you fill it with hot soups, stews, casseroles or pasta dishes. I have determined through trial and error that this is one way to keep things warm enough that small people eat them hours later!
3. Rubbermaid green-lidded lunch containers: These are available at the Superstore and are great because they stack and click together, making them hard to lose and easy to pack inside an insulated lunch bag. The inside compartment has lots of room for a sandwich and side and the clip on containers are great for dips and snacks.
4. Norpro Silicone Ice Pop Makers: These are great for portioning yoghurt, smoothies and pureed fruit. Keep them in the freezer, throw them in the lunchbag in the morning, and they’ll be defrosted enough to slurp on at lunchtime. Reusable, dishwasher-safe and BPA-free, they are available on amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-431-4-Piece-Silicone-Maker/dp/B0036B9KHO/
5. Fun insulated lunch bags: Lunch bags are available in all shapes and colours. If your kids get a say in choosing their lunch bag, they’ll have a little pride in ownership (hopefully decreasing the chances of it getting lost in the first week!). Look for an insulated bag with enough room for a water bottle and a pocket for utensils.
6. Sistema food containers: This BPA-free line of food containers comes in tons of colors and sizes. The larger Slimline Quaddie contains a small drink container, and contains four separate containers, all attached together. It’s impossible to lose a lid with this system! The smaller Klip It to Go contains a large bottom cup and smaller compartment to hold a topping, along with a fold-up spoon. Perfect for yoghurt and granola or berries, or cereal and milk at breakfast time. These are available at Pete’s in the HRM.
7. Ice cube trays: The perfect way to portion and freeze dips, I use these for hummus and other lunch-friendly bean dips all the time. Once frozen, you can pop the cubes out of the tray and into a freezer baggie. Throw a cube into a sealed container in the evening and it will be defrosted by lunch time the next day.
8. Lunchbox Love Notes: I love these little positive notes and fun kids’ trivia. Pop a prewritten message in on special days when your little one needs a bit of extra encouragement, or write your own handwritten note and tuck it in their lunch. Just another reason for them to open their lunchbag!
Not sure what to put in these fancy containers? Attendees at my School Lunch Solutions workshops receive my Build-A-Lunch Guide and Lunch and Recess Ideas PDFs, along with loads of nut-free healthy and tasty recipe ideas. The next public workshop is scheduled for September 12th at 7:30 p.m. at Oxford Learning in Bedford. Click here for details and to register: http://schoollunchessept12.eventbrite.com/
Listen for me on Wednesday, September 5th on CBC’s Maritime Noon, I’ll be answering listeners’ questions about healthy school lunches. Please call, email or tweet your questions in before or during the show.
Happy First Week of School everyone!
Wendy McCallum, LLB, RHN, is passionate about providing busy parents with the tools & support they need to feed their families wholesome food, so everyone can play, learn, and feel better! She is a mother of two terrific HRM kids, aged 7 &8. For information and recipe ideas, visit her website.