Top 10 Budget Fitness Gift Ideas

Top 10 Budget Fitness Gift Ideas

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. While using these links will not cost you any more, I may make a commission on any purchases.

Sure, we all wish we could gift our friends The Mirror Home Workout System or a Peloton, but for the rest of us, check out our guide of the Top 10 Budget Fitness Gift Ideas. Before you start shopping, think about the following questions to guide your search:

  • What types of workouts do they do?
  • Where do they work out?
  • How often do they work out?

Top 10 Budget Fitness Gift Ideas

10. Speed Jump Rope

Jump ropes are all the rage in Bootcamp and Crossfit gyms due to their ability to develop coordination, agility, footwork, endurance and overall conditioning. They are compact, lightweight, and bring back those fond memories of grade school recess. And under $10!

Speed Jump Rope

9. Fitness Dice

For anyone working out at home, it can get pretty monotonous doing the same workout over and over. A fitness dice adds a little spontaneity, resulting in new workouts every day!

8. Running Gloves

Gloves are a perfect Christmas gift because it’s cold outside! Look for gloves that are lightweight, yet warm, with touchscreen capabilities.

7. Fitness Journal

Gym rats love to plan and track their workouts and strength progression. Runners love to track their mileage and plan their training for upcoming races. Journals are a great reminder to get that workout in and motivation to keep progressing.

6. Yoga Mat

Whether hitting their favorite yoga studio or doing a session at home, there is no need for boring yoga mats.

yoga mat

5. Massage Stick

The perfect self-care gift idea! It can be stored under their desk at work or in a closet at home and used to treat themselves to a tension and pressure release anytime and anywhere. It’s a great gift that will keep on giving!

massage stick roller

4. Foam Roller

One thing almost every runner, cardio fan and weight lifter loves but never has at home is a foam roller. Perfect for rolling out tight muscles, stretching, and even some isometrics, this is an amazing Christmas gift for any athlete in your life.

foam roller

3. Socks

Nothing makes a runner happier than new socks! And they are definitely not something they tend to splurge on for themselves. My favorite brands are Swiftwick, Balega, and Zelle.

2. Resistance Bands

Great for the traveler or those with little space, resistance bands can be taken anywhere and provide a wide arrange of workout options for the newbie or advanced user. Most sets are under $10!

Loop Resistance Bands

1. Joggers

 

High on the trends list for 2020 have been joggers! Think of your old sweat pants, elevated to another level where they are both functional and fashionable. In my opinion, they are the new leggings. You can find budget-friendly joggers at Old Navy, and all the big-name fitness brands have their own too.

 

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Reading Kingdom – Review of the Online K-3 reading program

Reading Kingdom feature image

Disclosure: I was compensated for my review of Reading Kingdom, along with given a year’s access to the system. All opinions are my own.

Given that fewer than 1 in 5 words can be “sounded out” and there are 1,768 ways to spell 40 sounds, Reading Kingdom claims to be the first program to use the groundbreaking “Phonics-PLUS” system. In addition to teaching the skill of “Sound”, “Phonics-PLUS” incorporates “Sequencing”, “Writing”, “Meaning”, “Grammar”, and “Comprehension” to help children learn to read.

Reading Kingdom promotes that their program is for children 4-10 years old, from kids who are not yet reading and don’t know their letters to those who have already started to learn and builds skills up to a 3rd-grade level. Given their recommended age range, I signed up both my 8-year-old 3rd grader and 4-year-old preschooler.

Assessment

When you first sign up, it is recommended to have your child take an assessment to determine which of their five levels to start with. The assessment consisted of 2 sections – identifying words spoken and typing. The first section showed 3 different word options and would speak a word for the student to identify. The typing section showed individual letters for the student to type.

Reading Kingdom typing assessment
Screenshot from typing assessment

My 8-year-old flew through the word identification with ease but was slower with the typing given he hasn’t spent much time learning to type. He was placed in Level 1. My 4-year-old struggled with both sections, just guessing on the word identification. She was also placed in Level 1. While Level 1 made sense for my 4-year-old, I was surprised that my 8-year-old was also placed in Level 1, so I’m guessing heavy weight is given to typing ability. I would not have equated reading and writing ability with typing, but we proceeded as suggested.

Level 1

I was given 14 days to review the program and provide this post, so my children both worked through Level 1 in that time. As advertised, the program adjusts based on how your student performs. Both of my students had the same first lesson, and then they varied immediately.

Each session consists of 15-20 lessons. And they recommend no more than 2 sessions per day. The first lesson focused on the word “girls” and the skill of “sequencing”. They were to spell “girls” using the letters in the white box in order from left to right.

Reading Kingdom Level 1 activity

Other lessons included identifying a spoken word, identifying all instances of a spoken word in a text in order, typing a spoken word, and identifying which option could become the spoken word then filling in the missing letters. Each session would focus on 1-4 words, with all 15-20 lessons practicing those words in different fun ways.

Reading Kingdom screenshot Reading Kingdom Level 1 activity screenshot Reading Kingdom Level 1 activity screenshot Reading Kingdom Level 1 activity screenshot

Reading Kingdom Review

My first impression of Reading Kingdom was that it was unlikely that my 8-year-old and 4-year-old were at the same reading level, but we continued as instructed. My 8-year-old was very bored at Level 1, but it was a good review and repetition of beginner sight words.

As the program is very heavily focused on typing, we improvised with my 4-year-old who had not used a keyboard at all. I would have her speak the letters that were shown on the screen or needed to complete the words and I would type them. I also found the sessions too long for her attention span. They provide a pause button, but you can only use it one time per session.

On a positive note, I do like that the program focuses on only a few words at a time and works on both reading and spelling in the same sessions. While my son is on par for reading at his grade level, I feel like his spelling is lacking, so this has been good practice.

As 14 days is a very short time to review a program like this, check back as I’ll be updating this review over the next year that we have access to the system.

To save 10% off a subscription to Reading Kingdom, use this referral link.

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Reading Kingdom Pin Reading Kingdom pin

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DynaBites – Your Family’s New Favorite Protein Energy Ball Recipe

DynaBites Protein Energy Ball Recipe

Protein Balls…Energy Balls…DynaBites…Whatever you call them, they are very much the rage for quick and easy kid-friendly snacking. The recipes are endless, but this is my favorite basic protein energy ball recipe, with ingredients that I nearly always have on hand.

With just 4 ingredients – oatmeal, nut butter, honey & Juice Plus+ Complete – prep time is super simple! Kids can even do it and enjoy rolling the ingredients into balls.

While oatmeal is naturally gluten-free, many manufacturers process the oatmeal in the same facilities and sometimes, the same equipment, as grains containing gluten, so have some cross-contamination. I always like to look specifically for gluten-free grains to minimize inflammation.

You can use any nut butter of choice for this recipe, but I usually use creamy peanut butter, because that’s what we have on hand. Almond butter also provides a nice creamy nutty taste, while crunchy varieties add some texture.

Juice Plus+ Complete is my protein powder of choice because it is vegan and contains 13g of plant-based protein and 7g of fiber per serving with no added sugars. This recipe uses two servings of Complete and makes approximately 20 balls.

Place the prepped balls on a cookie sheet and leave in the freezer until firm, about 2 hours. Once firm, DynaBites should be stored in the fridge.

DynaBites

A kid-friendly protein energy ball
Prep Time 5 mins
Freezing Time 2 hrs
Course Snack
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Cookie Sheet

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup oatmeal gluten-free preferred
  • 1 cup nut butter peanut, almond, etc
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup Juice Plus+ Complete Dutch Chocolate or French Vanilla

Instructions
 

  • Mix all ingredients together
  • Form into 1 inch balls
  • Freeze until firm ~2 hours

Notes

Optional Add-ins: 
  • Chocolate chips
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Dried fruit
Keyword Kid-friendly, Protein

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Protein Energy Ball Recipe Pin

 

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One Ingredient Ice Cream

Disclosure: This article may include affiliate links, upon which I will earn a commission.

School is officially out, so that means one thing…summer!

And with summer comes ice cream. But the more I get in tune with my body, the more I know that dairy does not agree with me, not to mention its inflammatory nature. And don’t forget the sugar in traditional ice creams. This got me looking for an ice cream recipe that I could make with almond milk, and led me to The Kitchn’s article on making ice cream with bananas.

Can you really make ice cream with just bananas? YES!

 

One Ingredient Ice Cream


One Ingredient Ice Cream - Prepping Bananas

Start with ripe bananas. I used 3 bananas, which resulted In 2 adult bowls and 2 kid-size bowls. First, cut bananas into smaller sections (~1/2 inch). Place into a small baggy and freeze for at least 2 hours.

You may remember the Yonanas machine that was all the rage a few years ago, but no special machine is required. Just use your blender or food processor. I used our Vitamix.

One Ingredient Ice Cream

Once frozen, place your bananas into the blender and start pulsing. Break up the chunks of banana in short bursts of power. You will need to help move the mixture around a lot as it is very thick. It will look crumbly at first. With continued pulsing and blending, the bananas will start to cream together. Be careful not to overblend, as the heat of the blender will start to melt the ice cream. Serve immediately.

My family’s favorite part was the toppings! We used fresh berries, mini chocolate chips, and walnuts. You can also blend peanut butter, avocado, or honey directly into the ice cream for different flavor variations. Wait until the bananas are creamy before adding any flavors.

One Ingredient Ice Cream Pin

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Zak! Designs Water Bottle & Stainless Steel Tumbler Giveaway – Ends 5/13

Welcome to the Zak Designs Healthier You & Healthier Planet Giveaway!

2 Winners

This giveaway is part of our Mother’s Day Gift Guide – Stop by to see all the giveaways and great products. Remember to check out the books for easy help in your life.

Host is Deliciously Savvy

Michigan Saving and More

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This giveaway’s Sponsor is:

WEBSITE ~ FACEBOOK ~ TWITTER ~ PINTEREST ~ INSTAGRAM

Available on Amazon

Perfect For Ensuring A Healthier You & A Healthier Planet! 2 Lucky Winners Will Win a Zak Designs 32oz Genesis Durable Tritan Water Bottle & a Zak Designs Genesis 24oz Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Tumbler (TRV $68!)!

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I have several Zak! cups and they are so cute and colorful! See a full review from our host HERE.

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This giveaway/sweepstakes is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site. This Giveaway is valid to continental United States residents only, Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 5/13/20. The winner will have 48 hours to email their information back to mcushing7 at hotmail dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The giveaway is not valid where prohibited! By entering you are authorizing us to collect the information on the form below, this information is used only to contact the winner! No purchase necessary, Void where prohibited by law, and the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Winners are chosen randomly by the Giveaway Tools program. The sponsors are each responsible for shipping of the above prizes. No blog associated with this contests are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway like this please email Melissa Cushing at mcushing7 (at)hotmail (dot) com. If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified.

Sponsors interested in joining our gift guides can see the information HERE.

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Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher Giveaway – Ends 5/10

Drink Cleaner Water Today Giveaway

Welcome to the Drink Cleaner Water Today Giveaway!

1 Winner

This giveaway is part of our Mother’s Day Gift Guide – Stop by to see all the giveaways and great products. Drink Cleaner Water With Clearly Filtered.

Host is Michigan Saving and More

 

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This giveaway’s Sponsor is:

Designed to remove up to 99.99% of all contaminants, the Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher is the most advanced tap water filter in the world. All filters are replaceable and tested to the highest industry standards. All of their American-built filters are tested and certified to exceed NSF/ANSI Standards. See how this will help you drink cleaner water today!

Are you drinking at least 8 cups of water a day? Filter all your water for the day and reset overnight. Great tracking towards completion!

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THE GIVEAWAY

This giveaway/sweepstakes is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site. This Giveaway is valid to continental United States residents only, Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 5/10/20. The winner will have 48 hours to email their information back to las93063 at gmail dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The giveaway is not valid where prohibited! By entering you are authorizing us to collect the information on the form below, this information is used only to contact the winner! No purchase necessary, Void where prohibited by law, and the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Winners are chosen randomly by the Giveaway Tools program. The sponsors are each responsible for shipping of the above prizes. No blog associated with this contests are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway like this please email Laura Smith at las930 (at)gmail (dot) com. If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified.

Sponsors interested in joining our gift guides can see the information HERE.

 

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Play Games With Mom Giveaway – Ends 5/8

Play Games With Mom Giveaway

Welcome to the Play Games With Mom Giveaway!

1 Winner

This giveaway is part of our Mother’s Day Gift Guide – Stop by to see all the giveaways and great products. Mother’s Day is a great day to play games with Mom!

Host is Michigan Saving and More

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This giveaway’s Sponsor is:

WEBSITE ~ FACEBOOK ~ YOU TUBE ~ TWITTER ~ INSTAGRAM

~~~

Be ready for Mother’s Day, summer vacation, and these last few days (hopefully) of e-learning.

Play Games with Mom by winning the below games!

FLINCH

$10.95 ARV total

Available on Amazon

See the review HERE.

HUSKER DU?

$12.95 ARV total

Available on Amazon

See the review HERE.

NO STRESS CHESS

$18.95 ARV total

Available on Amazon

Pass the Pig – Big Pigs

$18.95 ARV total

Available on Amazon

See the review HERE.

RISK EUROPE

$40.95 ARV total

Available on Amazon

See the review HERE.

SCATTERGORIES

$40.95 ARV total

Available on Amazon

See the review HERE.

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THE GIVEAWAY

This giveaway/sweepstakes is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site. This Giveaway is valid to continental United States residents only, Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 5/8/20. The winner will have 48 hours to email their information back to las93063 at gmail dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The giveaway is not valid where prohibited! By entering you are authorizing us to collect the information on the form below, this information is used only to contact the winner! No purchase necessary, Void where prohibited by law, and the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Winners are chosen randomly by the Giveaway Tools program. The sponsors are each responsible for shipping of the above prizes. No blog associated with this contests are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway like this please email Laura Smith at las930 (at)gmail (dot) com. If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified.

Sponsors interested in joining our gift guides can see the information HERE.

 

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Don’t Let Your Easter Ham Go to Waste – 9 Unique Uses for Ham

Easter 2020 will be one to remember. Unable to celebrate in person with extended family or church friends, families have had to find new ways to celebrate. I was given the opportunity to perform a mystery shop at the Honey Baked Ham store. Included in the shop was reimbursement for a 7-8lb ham (which is designed to feed 11-12 people). I have a family of 4, with 2 little ones who don’t eat much meat. That means we had SO much ham to eat. That began my research of recipes and uses for ham. Here’s my compilation of the best and most unique uses for ham. Click any picture for the full recipe.

9 Uses for Ham

Sandwiches

I’ll start with the obvious, but sandwiches are fun and can be easy to elevate. Start with some homemade or specialty bread. We love Hawaiian bread in our house! You can even use leftover rolls or make biscuits or cornbread. Add different cheeses, veggies, and sauces for endless combinations.

Southern Ham and Cheese Biscuit Sandwiches
Southern Ham and Cheese Biscuit Sandwiches / The Spruce Eats

 

Monte Cristo
Monte Cristo / She Wears Many Hats

 

Croque Monsieur
Croque Monsieur / Tastes Better From Scratch

Eggs

Omelets and egg scrambles are a perfect fit for leftover ham. Dice it up and add with your favorite cheese and veggies.

Ham and Vegetable Omelet
Ham and Vegetable Omelet / Ready Set Eat

Casseroles

Casseroles are great because you can usually prep it and forget it or even freeze for later.

Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole
Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole / The Spruce Eats

 

Ham Casserole with Broccoli and Rice
Ham Casserole with Broccoli and Rice / The Cozy Cook

 

Soups

Potato and Ham Soup with Cheese
Potato and Ham Soup with Cheese / The Spruce Eats

 

Simple Navy Bean Soup with Ham
Simple Navy Bean Soup with Ham / The Spruce Eats

 

Cheesy Ham and Potato Soup
Cheesy Ham and Potato Soup / The Cozy Cook

Potatoes

So many options to go with potatoes, including hashes, scalloped and au gratin varieties, and even baked potatoes with diced ham.

 

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes / Love Grows Wild

 

Easy Ham and Potato Hash
Easy Ham and Potato Hash / The Spruce Eats

 

Pasta

Creamy Pasta with Ham and Asparagus
Creamy Pasta with Ham and Asparagus / The Spruce Eats

 

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta
Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta / The Spruce Eats

 

Ham and Cheese Manicotti

Ham and Cheese Manicotti / Recipe Girl

Creamy Parmesan Noodles with Ham
Creamy Parmesan Noodles with Ham / Recipe Girl

 

Ham and Cheese Baked Gnocchi
Ham and Cheese Baked Gnocchi / Recipe Girl

 

Mac and Cheese with Ham
Mac and Cheese with Ham / Spicy Southern Kitchen

Pizza

Homemade pizza can’t be beat! Go with a traditional ham and pineapple or any combination of flavors.

Homemade Ham and Pineapple Pizza
Homemade Ham and Pineapple Pizza / Foodlets

Quiche

These muffin tin quiche are great because you can cook a big batch, freeze them, then warm up a few for a quick breakfast.

Muffin Cup Ham and Cheddar Quiche
Muffin Cup Ham and Cheddar Quiche / The Spruce Eats

 

Muffins

Ham and Cheese Breakfast Muffins
Ham and Cheese Breakfast Muffins / She Wears Many Hats
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Thinkster Review – Online Math Tutoring

Thinkster Math is a K-12 online math tutoring program available on desktops, laptops (Chrome & Safari) and iPad apps designed to boost performance in math. They use AI technology in their online worksheets to understand each child’s learning process.

Based on the plan enrolled in, your student has access to 100,000+ worksheets and videos and a specified number of one on one tutoring sessions held through Zoom.

Thinkster Plans with Pricing
Try Thinkster Math Today with a 7-Day Free Trial!

The tutoring sessions include a special whiteboard program where both the tutor and your student have access to write on the screen. You can even take a photo of your student’s actual homework from school, for them to work on together.

The Silver plan includes use of the worksheets, videos and assessments. The Gold plan includes the worksheets, videos and assessments, along with a 15 minute session each week with tutor. The Platinum plan bumps up to a 30 minute session each week. Additional sessions can be added on for an additional cost.

The tutor I spoke with recommended completing 7-10 worksheets each week. Each worksheet specifies a target time to complete. The ones we received averaged 7-11 minutes each. After submitting the worksheet, the tutor then has access to view the results, including what notes were added by the student in completing the worksheet, how long the student took on each problem and which problems the child missed or got right on the second try.

Thinkster Math offers a 7 day preview to try the system, complete some worksheets, watch some videos, and meet with a tutor. Read on for our Thinkster review.

What happens during a 7 day preview

Day 1

Registration was very easy, asking a few questions about your student, including the purpose for tutoring. You could select from multiple options, including Needing Help, Wanting to Get Ahead, and Looking for Supplementation.

The next step was for my son to complete the Assessment. The Assessment was 20 questions, each from a separate topic, with a suggested time to complete of 20 minutes. Once the Assessment was completed, one example worksheet was made available based on his grade level.

You are also encouraged to watch a webinar or hop on a call with the company at this point to learn more. When clicking to sign up for a webinar, they were only available for the next few hours.

Day 2

Worksheets were populated based on the Assessment results. Three worksheets were available at any one time, with several others visible with a lock image. As you complete worksheets, another one is unlocked to replace it.

Thinkster worksheets
Thinkster worksheets

When completing the worksheets, one problem is shown at a time, with immediate feedback if the answer is correct or not. Your student can write directly on the screen (so a tablet or touch screen works best) to help solve the problem, which is visible to your tutor for later feedback.

Day 3

Contacted by tutor to arrange first session by email and text. When using her link, there were no times available for the next month, but communicating through text, we were able to arrange a time the next day.

Day 4

Met with tutor online to demonstrate white board and let my son try it out. She went over the online system, and no tutoring took place. It was solely a walk through and scheduled the first official tutoring session.

Days 5-6

Continued completing worksheets and watching videos. Videos were a mixture of Youtube videos and Thinkster branded videos.

Thinkster videos
Thinkster Video Library

Day 7

Thinkster sent an email warning that if the trial wasn’t canceled, I would be charged for the Gold plan annual rate. Canceling was very easily done within the app. No phone calls or emails required. I did receive a subsequent email from customer service asking for my opinion and a text from the tutor. I did find all the communication from Thinkster and the tutor helpful and informative and not like they were trying to hide anything.

 

My Thinkster Review

The tutor we were paired with seemed very knowledgeable and friendly. She connected with my son right away, but was also very at ease speaking to me as well. I like how texting is utilized to send reminders and keep in communication. As we didn’t go through an actual live tutoring session, I can’t say for sure, but it seems it would be very personalized to what your student needs to work on. The worksheets, on the other hand, were more limited. They were based on the Assessment, which had just 1 question per topic. Therefore, your student may have inadvertently missed the problem, but it’s not really an issue. Or on the other side, guessed on a question and got it right, but has not developed a full understanding of the topic. I’m sure if you committed long term, these would adapt to your student’s needs. The videos on the other hand, were all available and you could choose the topics to focus on. It’s definitely worth checking out for 7 days to see if it’s right for your student.

 

Try Thinkster Math Today with a 7-Day Free Trial!

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How To Pack School Lunches That Your Kids Will Actually Eat

school lunch

Packing school lunches is a great option when your child isn’t too fond of what the school has to offer or you want a little more control over what your child is eating. In our household, we pack lunches to avoid the nearly daily gluten in the school lunches (sandwiches, pasta, pizza, breaded chicken).

Of course if your child has dietary restrictions or food allergies, packing lunches is a must. Frankly, packing a lunch allows you to include healthy foods your child will actually eat and it doesn’t have to cost any more than what you would be paying for lunch at school.

Of course packing a lunch every day doesn’t do any good if your child doesn’t eat it or ends up trading most of it away for junk food. The key then is to find things that your child loves and enjoys eating.

The best place to start is to get your child involved. Depending on the age of your kids, you could even put them in charge of making their own lunches. Not only do you know that they’ll pack something they will eat, being in charge of packing lunch will teach them responsibility.

Start by talking to your kids about what they want in their lunch box. Make a list of options and then head to the store so you have everything you need for the week. Getting the kids as involved as possible will make sure that they end up with lunches they will eat. For older kids that may mean making their own lunches (under your supervision of course).

Younger children can help. Even your kindergartener can wash grapes and put them into a container, or pick a snack for his lunch box. Get in the habit of making lunches together the night before. Over time you can give the kids more and more responsibility for their lunches. This alone will help make sure they eat what they’ve packed. After all, it’s the lunch they made. Along the way you’re teaching them independence and important life skills.

Of course you want to encourage your kids to pack and eat healthy foods. Insisting on all healthy, organic food options all the time may not be your best strategy though. Strike a balance and make compromises. If your kids pack and eat a healthy wrap or salad for example, let them have some cookies for dessert. Teach them to make good choices, but don’t freak out if they decide to pack some Cheetos or a pack of Oreo cookies. Your goal is to get them to eat fairly healthy and make smart food choices, not restrict all access to junk food, causing them to trade with friends for forbidden Twinkies.

how to pack school lunches

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