Camp Season: How to Pack a Healthy Lunch that Your Children Will Actually Eat!

Camp Season: How to Pack a Healthy Lunch that Your Children Will Actually Eat! As camp season fast approaches, all of us moms are wondering just what we are going to pack our kids for lunch. If you are anything like me, I always tend to fall into a rut of packing the same thing over and over again, am bombarded with complaints that my children don’t like what I pack and by the end of the summer am sick and tired of my children coming home with half-eaten sandwiches. If this sounds like your family, you have come to the right place!Following are some tips that I have used that have greatly improved the “lunch box battles.” My three criteria are that the lunch must be quick and easy to pack, be healthy and include fruits and/or vegetables, and contain foods my kids will actually eat (give some time with this- they won’t switch their eating habits overnight)! It is essential that we streamline this process so that we can have more time to do the fun things like go to the beach, take a bike ride, or just chill out with our families instead of stress out over the dreaded lunchbox!One of the most important things I can recommend is to get your kids involved in the shopping and/or preparation and ask what they like. Also, buy a lunchbox that is easy to use (and that your child likes). Try to include multiple colors & textures into their lunches like a soft sandwich, crunchy carrot sticks and creamy yogurt. For nursery age children, cut their sandwiches into shapes and make fun things like ‘ants on a log’ (celery filled with cream cheese topped with raisons.) Condiments are not just for grown-ups so include hummus or ranch dressing to dip carrots into or ketchup for a tofu dog and also include lots of fruits & vegetables. Get out of ‘grilled cheese and pb&j thinking’ and be experimental with what you include. Lunch boxes don’t have to- and shouldn’t- contain the usual sandwich every day! If you do pack a sandwich, vary the bread- serve it whole wheat one day, a wrap the next, a pita the next and try to add vegetables such as lettuce and tomato when you can.

Remember to always pack a treat- you want your child to have something to look forward to! Lastly, preparation begins in the grocery store and it is important to read labels and avoid buying processed foods high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup and saturated fats and stock your pantry with healthy, easy to pack foods so you always have a bunch on hand.

Below are some ideas but if you are in need for some more there is a great website called Laptop Lunches! Good luck and good packing!

“The Cheat Sheet” for Packing Healthy Lunches:

Main Course (choose one):
PB&J with a twist- use almond butter & banana grilled on a panini serve with side of honey
Grilled cheese sandwich
Fresh sliced chicken or turkey sandwich
“Mexican Sushi” (see recipe below)
Pizza Munchees (Health is Wealth)- delicious pizza pockets!
Tofu or chicken nuggets (Health is Wealth) with ketchup for dipping
Smart Dogs- in a bun or rolled up with cheese in a tortilla
Hard-boiled eggs (make a batch the night before and use for the lunchbox the next day)
“Perfectly Healthy” Veggie Pancakes (recipe below)- cook it the night before & serve at dinner, then heat it up in the morning and pack it the next day (these also freeze well)
Sushi- if your kids love it, it is easy to pack and nutritious!
Snacks (choose one):
Fruit- bananas, apples, oranges, or grapes (slice for younger children) Yogurt- Stoneyfield Squeeze yogurts, Brown Cow, Emmi, Fage, or Skyrs that comes with its own spoon and is my daughter’s favorite! (choose one high in acidophilis and low in sugar)
Cheddar Bunny Snack Packs (healthier version of goldfish)
Pirate or Veggie Booty (Roberts American Gourmet)
Carrot sticks with hummus or ranch dressing for dipping
Celery sticks filled with cream cheese (or, even better, Tofutti)
Dried fruits (no-sugar)- raisons, apricots, bananas, papaya or mango
Trail mix (no-sugar)- try one with Goji berries for iron and Vitamin C

Treats (every lunchbox must have a treat, right!?!)
Snackimals Cookies Packs- come in ‘Snickerdoodle’, ‘Chocolate Chip’, or ‘Wheat-Frees’
Newman’s Own “oreo” cookies
Kashi TLC dark chocolate chip cookies (these are delicious!)
Green & Blacks 70% Mini Chocolate Bar

Drinks (choose one):
If they are going to sports camp, always pack them a big bottle of water as well and encourage them to drink it throughout the day! Opt out of the Gatorade or Vitamin Water route, which is high in sugar. You can just as easily replace their electrolytes with water and a piece of fruit!

Honest Kids- (fun squeeze packs) comes in Tropical Tango, Goodness Grapeness or Berry, Berry Good Lemonade
Apple & Eve All-Natural Apple Juice (box)
Vruit Carrot Apple Juice (box)
R.W. Kudsens Spritzers- Lemonde, Red Rasberry or Grape (can- they think it is soda!)
Vita Coco Coconut Water (box)
Good, Old-Fashioned Water!

Chicken, egg or tuna salad sandwich
Avocado & tomato sandwich

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