Monday, September 26, 2011

Thrive & School Lunch

When my daughter was itty bitty and headed off to her first year of all-day school, I was so excited to pack her a lunch. I'll give you two guesses as to how quickly that excitement wore off. Now we're into her third year of all day school and I have finally gotten lunch down to a science. In an effort to save you from lunch packing boredom, I will share my method with you :)

Make a spreadsheet with the following information: Morning Snack, Lunch Entree, Lunch Side Dish, Drink. Of course you'll want to adjust this to fit your child's needs - for example, maybe your middle schooler doesn't have morning snack but would like a dessert option or an extra snack to eat before an after school activity. Under each chosen heading, list all of the choices you would like to give your child. Here is what is listed under "Morning Snack" for my daughter:

Banana Bread
Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Homemade Granola Bar
Apple Slices
Granola Bites
Bagel with Cream Cheese
Mini Blueberry Muffins
Banana Nut Muffins
Animal Crackers
Wheat Thins with Cheese
Zucchini Muffins

Once you have completed the spreadsheet, print out a copy and have your child make her choices by writing the initial for each day of the week next to the item she would like. So, if she would like grapes for her morning snack on Monday, she would put a "M" next to the word grapes on the list. Granola bites would have a "Th" next to it for Thursday. Repeat for all remaining categories.

I have my daughter complete her "lunch order" on Saturday for the upcoming week. This allows me to prepare anything that can be made ahead of time like muffins or granola, pick up the produce needed at the store, and also plan our family dinners accordingly. Last week she wanted to have homemade pizza for lunch on Thursday, so we had homemade pizza as a family for dinner on Wednesday night and I just made extra for her to have at school the next day.

Thrive foods can play an integral part in preparing quick, healthy lunches for your kids. My daughter loves  Thrive Freeze Dried Strawberries mixed with Vanilla Yogurt Bites, freeze dried corn mixed with freeze dried peas, and especially blueberries. For quick muffins, use Thrive 6 Grain Pancake Mix as a base, add sugar, vanilla extract, milk and Thrive berries (you don't have to rehydrate them!). Freeze leftover muffins and just pop a frozen one in your child's lunch bag - it will be thawed by snack time. Mix up some homemade granola bars on a Sunday afternoon for a great snack all week long. A hot thermos full of creamy chicken soup with wild rice will warm up a cold kid on a wintery day, especially with a hearty sandwich on a homemade bagel.

I love knowing that I'm sending my daughter to school with wholesome, nutritious meals that will fuel her brain and body for the afternoon. Best of all, I love knowing that I have sent food that  she will actually eat!

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