Save Some Green (and Your Sanity): The 411 On Lunchbox Fun

Balance – that elusive apple pie in the sky. Work, family, friends, exercise, phone calls, emails, grocery shopping,walks with fido, drop-offs, pick-ups…it’s a precarious juggling act. In a grab-n-go world, there are simple planning and preparation tips that can help you stay sane in the kitchen and save some serious green, starting with what goes into your kids lunchbox. Alas, the long days of languishing poolside and sipping on sun tea have come to an abrupt end (like you had time for that anyway), replaced by early morning wake up calls, frenetic outfit coordination and lunch packing duties.

Number one, you’ve got to get in front of the garbage food bus. It would be very easy to succumb to those non-descript, pre-packed wrapped lunch meals and neon-colored ‘phood’ snacks but you know better than to slap that processed, phony baloney onto your kid’s buns. The sad reality is childhood obesity has grown to epidemic proportions, literally and figuratively. According to the Center for Disease Control, in the last 30 years, the prevalence of obesity has tripled. Kids age 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008 and in adolescents aged 12 to 19 years, we’ve seen increases from 5.0% to 18.1%. What’s equally disturbing is pesticides and chemicals such as BPA can act as obesogens, interfering with their ability to metabolize foods properly.

You’ve bought them school supplies. Now get them food wise. I mean, white bread and fluorescent snacks are so 1982.
Five Reasons Why Packing a Lunch Makes So Much Sense (Cents):
1.It’s bound to be cheaper than what’s on the menu
2.No waiting in the lunch line, so they have time to chew
3.You can clean your foods of bacteria and pesticide residue
4.Peace of mind that their meal has been given the stamp of approval by you
5.We hear packing a lunch is what the cool kids do
Here’s the 411 on Lunchbox fun8 great make ahead, flavorful treats that pack a nutritious punch:
“Roll on: Layer sliced chicken breast, lettuce or sprouts and chopped tomato onto a sprouted grain tortilla with a dab of stone ground mustard. Roll and slice into pinwheel pieces.
“Pita the Pocket: Fill a sprouted grain pita with tuna salad seasoned with lite mayo and studded with celery and raisins.
“Snappy Sticks: Clean and cut up your own celery, carrot and cucumber spears with Eat Cleaner All Natural Fruit + Vegetable Wash to remove residue like wax and pesticides that water can’t. Pack them in an ice-filled cup so they’ll be nice and crisp when they get snapped up. Add a side of whipped veggie cream cheese to dip.
“Fruity Kebabs: Who doesn’t love food on a stick? Skewer fresh strawberries, slices of melon and grapes with a side of low-sugar vanilla yogurt and a sprinkling of natural granola. Makes a great breakfast on the run, too.
“Rasta Pasta Salad: With a vegetable peeler, create long ribbons of carrot and zucchini. Steam and add to brown rice pasta (let them pick their fave shape). Season with a little grated cheese and butter and heat up in the morning before they head out the door.
“Veggie Grilled Cheese: Cheddar, red bell pepper and steamed broccoli get cooked between two pieces of sprouted grain bread. Press with a spatula and seal it all in for one-handed eating ease.
“Simple Sushi: Sushi rolls are no longer a snooty snack. Grab some Sea Snax olive oil toasted seaweed and roll up some vinegar-seasoned brown rice, avocado and cucumber hand rolls.
“The A+: Most classrooms are peanut free, so opt for almond butter and sliced apples onto a warm sprouted wheat tortilla and fold in half. Give it a quick glow in the pan for a nice nutty flavor. An A+ in our book!
2 more cents of food sense: Prepare lunchboxes the night before and put them in an insulated lunch box to keep them cool longer. Add in an ice-pack if food is sitting for more than 3 hours. And always opt for BPA and thalate-free plastic storage containers.
When it comes to lunch time, help them think before they bite and play it smart for a future of healthy, happy, safe eating. And cute lunchboxes.
BOLA TANGKAS