It’s hard to believe that the summer is waning and in a few weeks, school bells will be ringing to return to classes once more. There is a lot to do for the beginning of the school year such as buying clothes for growing children and also needed and required school supplies. The rush may be upon you, but another stressor that happens is thinking about school lunches if they aren’t freely provided. Add into that some allergies or restrictions for your children, and packing lunch becomes a challenge for many households.
In my practice, I work with clients that wish to change lifestyle and habits and one area is to eat healthier based on their unique requirements. But like with school cafeterias, it gets difficult to always have workable or healthy options from local eateries. Morning schedules are hectic enough and putting one more thing on the “to do” list, either for oneself or family for lunch just adds to the chaos.
Gluten free and dairy free options, along with other allergen free or sensitivity free options added to fussy appetites can make what may be easy and simple for some, a nightmare for others.
Consider some of these alternatives for your children’s lunch options as well as for yourself.
Instead of scrambling in the morning to figure out what to pack, start the night before. Invest in a crock pot or slow cooker (if you don’t have one) and prepare a hearty soup, chili, stew, or pasta dish. When you awake in the morning, all you have to do is pack it in insulated lunch bags. There are many options that keep food warm for 6 hours such as a thermos, or “Warmables Cherry Pit Kid’s Lunch Kits” available on amazon.com. They use BPA free containers which come in 16 oz. for children and 26 oz. for adults or older children. Or if you wish to send something that must remain chilled there are lunch bags with that option also such as “PackIt Freezable lunch bags” which can keep food chilled for up to 10 hours.
Gluten free “sandwiches” for those needing to avoid gluten poses a problem for some households. If children are finicky, an option is to make some gluten free waffles as a substitute for bread, from recipes that work both in ingredients along with taste for them. An added treat may be to purchase a waffle iron that makes animal shaped waffles to entice the children as they adjust to different tastes and textures. You may need to experiment with your own recipes or begin buying gluten free (and other allergen free) waffle mixes that work for you. Make a batch in advance, freeze them, then use as needed.
Breadless sandwiches also work for some so instead of using grain based “sandwiches”, try using cucumbers, tomato slices, lettuce wraps, zucchini or other vegetables for appetizing looking and tasting options. Here are some other ideas. And if you do it for the whole family, it may make the morning lunch shuffle easier, healthier, and less stressful for you.
Experimenting with these products and food alternatives a few weeks before school starts helps as you learn what works and doesn’t so that once the bell rings for those “school days, golden rules days”, you can breathe a little easier and make getting out of the house in the mornings less complicated.
Wishing you health, buon appetito, and living your best life.