Our family has never felt compelled to do “back to school” shopping like some, but since Kathie’s lunch bag from last year is worn and stained, during a weak moment in Wal-Mart, I opted to pick up an insulated hot pink bag and a coordinated water bottle that slides neatly inside.
Eating lunch is extremely important for an active teenager. The time between breakfast and dinner can be much too long to wait for food. A teen who misses lunch tends to over-snack on sugary foods after school. In just 15 minutes or less, you can have a great lunch ready to send with your child to school.
Of course, cafeteria lunches are fine, but we’ve found that packing gives us better control in planning a balanced meal that pleases; it also saves on the wait in the cafeteria line during an already short lunch period.
While you will want to pack a healthy lunch, don’t overdo the healthy bit. You’ll never know if your teenager is eating it anyway, so don’t count on it. I’d rather Kathie have a small bag of chips and a pudding cup with her sandwich and celery, and know she is happy with her lunch. Last year, we bought more pre-packaged, lunch-sized foods than ever before. No, they’re not so economical, but they make putting together a lunch much quicker, and any lunch is better than skipping lunch.
Involve your teen in the process of choosing his/her lunch. Teens who help make the choices are more likely to eat the lunches.
Be sure to have the containers you will need to pack a teen lunch. Soup or a hot food thermos and an insulated bag are a better choice for teens than the traditional ‘brown bag’.
“Make your own” is always in style teens. Try giving them all of the ingredients for a wrap in separate baggies and let them put it together.
Always look for ideas and surprises within the realm of things that your child likes. Things like fruit kabobs or cheese and crackers are fun to eat and can be made with different fruits and cheeses.
Don’t assume your teen is getting enough calcium because of the milk they drink at school and then find out they haven’t been buying milk after all.
For the teens who like to pick, make your own trail mixes with all kinds of good and healthy foods.
Left-overs are great for teen lunches. Does your teen have a favorite homemade food? Are you having it for dinner this week? If so, make extra! Warm it in the morning and put it in a hot food thermos. Pack a fork and they are all set.