The start of every school year is filled with such a contagious sense of hope, new beginnings, and excitement for us and our kids. While we’re always a little sad to see summer fade away, there’s no denying the joyful anticipation of meeting new teachers, making new friends, and–our favorite–new school supplies! It all somehow feels fresh.
The feeling has us in a similar mindset to the start of a new calendar year: this is a great time for us to set new intentions and set ourselves up for success.
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One of the things we’re most focused on right now is packing healthy school lunches and after school snacks that our kids want to eat. Finding ways to serve fruit, veggies, and protein in a way our kids like at home over the summer is one thing–it’s a whole new challenge to meet their nutritional needs and preferences while making it packable and practical.
The trick, we’ve found, is incorporating familiar favorites to bring a sense of comfort to busy school days. For foods that might be less-than-favorites, we do our best to present options in a visually appealing way. By offering fresh, healthy food we know there will be at least a few winners in every lunch and snack we create.
Familiar Favorites for Lunch
We like to think of the lunchroom as an extension of our own dining rooms at home. This is where our kids gather to fill their bellies, share stores, and connect with one another. So much social learning can happen during lunch periods! The sense of community we’re encouraging around our tables is what we hope our kids are taking to their lunch tables (along with their lunchboxes). As a subtle reminder of what’s been learned at home, and as something we know will get eaten, these are a few familiar family favorites we like to include in our lunch box rotation:
Nana’s Chicken Salad is great because it tastes best when made ahead, making for easier mornings. We also love making enough to enjoy for our own lunches! We typically send the chicken salad in a separate thermos to keep it cool and prevent soggy sandwiches.
Our 5-Minute Charcuterie Board is always a hit when we pack the separate components into a lunch box and our kids can graze their way through lunchtime. Our go-to, five-ingredient charcuterie formula is as easy to pull together as it is delicious:
- Cured meats
- Nuts or seeds
Healthy After School Snacks
Once you try this healthy Crudite and Cheese Board there’s no going back. And the best part is you can prep and assemble it earlier in the day and have it waiting in the fridge! Placing out colorful, nutritious food for everyone to snack on during homework is one of our favorite ways to work in vegetables before dinner. For our kids, we usually choose a few fresh vegetables they’re familiar with (hello, carrots and cucumber!) and like to offer an option that might be more new to their palates (we’re still working on radishes). We place a dip like hummus, a few whole-wheat crackers, and some olives on the board and there’s something for everyone.
Lunch Box Supplies We Can’t Get Enough Of
Packing healthy lunches and after school snacks can be really fun–especially with the right tools! These are some of our most-used, sustainable lunch box supplies that make creating lunches easier for us and more fun for our kids.