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

Continue Reading

EveryPlate – A New Meal Kit Review

EveryPlate box

EveryPlate bills itself as the “Affordable Meal Kit for Everyone” with kits starting at $4.99/serving. I’ve been a long time proponent for meal delivery service kits, starting with Hello Fresh and am currently using Sun Basket and Blue Apron. You can see my review of these services here. I’d been seeing EveryPlate advertised online and received a 40% discount for my first 3 weeks.

Each week, you can select 3 recipes from  9 different options. Some options (like steak) are an extra charge per serving. It is also easy to skip weeks if you won’t be home or don’t like the menu options. I’ve been ordering the 2 serving meal kits for my family of 4 (kids aged 7 & 3) and it provides us a nice reasonable sized meal. My 3 year old hardly eats anything, so I would consider it really 3 servings. I’ve also found that pasta dishes are much larger servings than other meals and many times we have leftovers.

Every recipe indicates that it can be cooked in 30 minutes, but I’ve found that so far I’m usually done quicker. EveryPlate also relies on your home “staples” more than other meal kits I’ve tried. They assume that you will have milk, flour, oil, and butter on hand. Oil is the only one of these ingredients that I regularly have, so I have to be prepared and stock up in advance.

Like other meal kits, the food is shipped to you on ice, within a bag designed to stay cold. The box is smaller than the other meal kits I’ve used, so a little friendlier on the environment. Within the box, you’ll find each recipe on its own recipe card, the meat in the lowest section right next to the ice, and the remaining ingredients in a nice little cardboard crate that fits nicely in the fridge. The ingredients are delivered in their purest form, so some prep is required.

EveryPlate is a great option if you want to save money and like simple options for your family that are quick to cook.

EveryPlate finished product
The finished product

For a limited time, I have 3 FREE EveryPlate boxes to share. Just leave your email address below. Or sign up today for $20 off your first delivery!

 

EveryPlateSun BasketBlue ApronHello Fresh
Weekly Menu Options9 recipes18 recipes11 recipes20
Starting Price / serving$4.99$10.99$7.49$7.49
Key DifferentiatorsPriceOrganic produce; Lots of weekly options; Plans for multiple diets (paleo, gluten-free, etc.)Good middle of the road optionGreat entry to the space; Long history in the industry

Disclaimer: I was not paid to review EveryPlate, but this post does include referral links which will credit me if you choose to sign up. 

Continue Reading

The Juice Bar Review & Giveaway (Ends 1/28)

The Juice Bar book

When we purchased our Vitamix, it included a copy of “The Juice Bar”, which bills itself on having 80 recipes to boost health. Given that only about 15% of individuals eat the recommended serving of fruits and vegetables each day, adding a juice regime is an easy way to quickly boost that number. Studies show that people who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, obesity, and some cancers.

The book is broken down into chapters on “Jump-start”, “Rehydrate”, “Energy”, “Health”, and “Detox”, after an introduction to juicing and how to properly prepare different fruits and vegetables. Some recipes require a juicer, but many can be prepared in a blender for a smoothie. While the recipes look amazing, the photography and tips are the real winner.

The book is available on Amazon, but today, you could win your own copy. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below.

The Juice Bar book

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Continue Reading

November – What’s In Season

As the cold sets in, it can be hard to imagine that there is any produce in season. But California and other southern states can grow all year long and some items prefer the cold weather.

Whether shopping at the grocery store or farmer’s market, it pays to shop what’s in season. You’ll get the most bang for your buck and nutritional value when the produce you seek was just harvested out of the field.

Here’s what’s in season during November in the United States.

 

What is your favorite dish to make with what’s in season this month?

Continue Reading

October – What’s in Season

Whether shopping at the grocery store or farmer’s market, it pays to shop what’s in season. You’ll get the most bang for your buck and nutritional value when the produce you seek was just harvested out of the field.

Here’s what’s in season during October in the United States.

What is your favorite dish to make with what’s in season this month?

Continue Reading

September – What’s in Season

Whether shopping at the grocery store or farmer’s market, it pays to shop what’s in season. You’ll get the most bang for your buck and nutritional value when the produce you seek was just harvested out of the field.

Here’s what’s in season during September in the United States.

What is your favorite dish to make with what’s in season this month?

Continue Reading

August – What’s in Season

Whether shopping at the grocery store or farmer’s market, it pays to shop what’s in season. You’ll get the most bang for your buck and nutritional value when the produce you seek was just harvested out of the field.

Here’s what’s in season during August in the United States.

What is your favorite dish to make with what’s in season this month?

Continue Reading

Shred10 Favorite Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks & Dinner

Contemplating your first Shred10 or just tired of the same foods every month? This post is all about my favorite Shred10 friendly meals. New to Shred10? Check out this page – Shred10. 

During Shred10, we are trying to follow these guidelines:

Shred10 Guidelines

Breakfast

Juice Plus+ Complete shakesJuice Plus+ Complete

My typical breakfast is a Complete shake or two. With 13g of plant-based protein and 8g of fiber per serving, it makes for a complete meal to start the day. Mixed with unsweetened almond milk, I always add chia seeds to my shakes for even more fiber and omega-3. Of course, you can always blend with even more fruits and vegetables; like banana, strawberry, kale and spinach.

Juice Plus+ Complete

Vegan French toastVegan french toast

When looking for an egg-less french toast recipe recently, I happened upon a recipe from The Minimalist Baker for vegan french toast. We also use the gluten-free bread from Aldi to make this work for our family.

Vegan french toast

Sausage & Eggs

When I start my day with protein, it helps me stay full longer, so sausage and eggs are another favorite breakfast of mine. Sometimes I’ll even make an omelet with mushrooms and spinach as well.

Snacks

Fruits & Vegetables

Apples, bananas, berries, snap peas, bell peppers, really any fruit or vegetable. You can dip in no sugar added peanut butter or hummus for added protein.

Juice Plus+ Complete barsJuice Plus+ Complete Bars

Juice Plus+ Complete bars are great for a mid-afternoon snack or post workout. Low-glycemic, gluten free, non- dairy and vegetarian with 5 or 10g of protein and 5g of fiber. My favorite is Tart Cherry + Honey, but if you crave some chocolate, the Dark Chocolate + Fig may be right up your alley.

Juice Plus+ Complete Bars

Lunch & Dinner

Stir-fries with protein, rice & veggies

Our go-to, in a rush dinner is to stir fry some chicken or beef with veggies (broccoli, carrots, peppers, bok choy) and serve over rice or quinoa. In an even bigger rush, the veggie steamer bags are great.

Burrito BowlsBurrito Bowl

My son’s current favorite meal is to make Qdoba-style burrito bowls. We even make the ingredients ahead of time and pack for his lunch. We use brown rice, blacks beans, chicken, avocado, and various salsas.

Sunbasket

One of the best solutions for my family has been to subscribe to meal prep boxes, Sunbasket being my favorite! You can read more about my experience with meal prep boxes here – Meal Delivery Services. One reason I love Sunbasket is they offer 18 different meal options each week and clearly identify meals that are gluten-free and dairy free. They are also very easy to prepare with most ingredients ready to go.

Sunbasket

Additional Resources

Healthy Living Revolution & Shred10

Shred10 | 5 Steps to Prep

Taste of the Shred & A Shred10 Potluck

Shred10 Day #1 & How Did I Do?

Shred10 Day #2

Shred10 Day #3 & Recap

Shred10 Day #4 | I’ve Made It This Far

Continue Reading

Back to School with Juice Plus+

Back to School with Juice Plus+

Whether sending your child to college for the first time or getting ready for kindergarten, get ready for the shock to the immune system that comes with new surroundings. New kids, new germs, new stress. And for those going away from home from the first time, you as a parent won’t be there to make sure they eat as they should. Studies show that 95% of college students don’t eat the amount of fruits and vegetables they need!  That’s where Juice Plus+ comes in for all your back to school nutritional peace of mind.

Though not just for kids, Juice Plus+ Chewables deliver added whole food based nutrition from up to 30 different fruits, vegetables, and grains in a tasty, soft chewable form. The appealing taste comes from two all-natural sweeteners – tapioca syrup and organic cane syrup – with absolutely no high fructose corn syrup. It contains no artificial flavors or artificial colors and is 100% vegetarian; the ‘chewiness’ comes from fruit pectins, not gelatin.

When you sign up for the Juice Plus+ Family Health Study, you can receive Juice Plus+ capsules or chewables for your child – free of charge – for up to four years as a study participant. Your child must be between the ages of 4 and 18 or a full-time undergraduate college student in a four-year degree program. With more than 1.5 million participating families and backed by 20 years of results, the Family Health Study helps you document the lasting, positive effects of the changes you and your family make. All it takes is 1 participating adult with their own capsules or chewables order.

 

Next Steps

  1. Learn more about the Family Health Study – here
  2. Sign up for the Family Health Study – here
  3. Order Juice Plus+ products individually

Continue Reading

3 Steps to a Healthy Thanksgiving

 

Thanksgiving is less than a week away! And while it is traditionally a holiday full of sweet treats, fat filled sides, and lots of calories, with some advanced preparation and knowledge, you can make it a healthy holiday. Follow these 3 steps to a healthy Thanksgiving:

Volunteer to Bring a Healthy Side

If you are worried that there won’t be any healthy sides at Thanksgiving dinner, bring your own. Your host will likely be thankful that you offered to bring something and you can control the ingredients and calories contained. Some of my favorites are sweet potatoes, green beans and mushrooms. Green beans and mushrooms can be simply sauteed with olive oil and garlic and taste delicious. Here are some recipes that I will be trying this year from Cooking Light:

Make Healthy Food Swaps

  • Swap skinless turkey breast for dark meat with skin and save up to 50 calories per 3 ounces
  • And if you have the choice between turkey and ham – go turkey!
  • Traditional pumpkin pie is the big winner over pecan pie (save up to 540 calories, 27 grams of sugar & 16 grams of fat per slice). Pumpkin pie also trumps apple pie.
  • Sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes
  • Skip the dinner roll and go for vegetables (celery, carrots, peppers, and broccoli) and hummus

Pick 1 Indulgence

If you love your mother’s pies, pick 1 pie, cut a small piece, and indulge. Choose healthier options for the rest of your meal and you’ll feel satisfied when you finally get that one indulgence.

 

What tips do you have to have a healthy Thanksgiving?

3 Steps to a Healthy Thanksgiving

Continue Reading