Sunday, January 29, 2017

Meal Prep Lunches with the Kids

I oftentimes get asked how my kids are engaged in clean eating.

Truth be told, my kids like their chicken nuggets and potato chips.  But they also recognize the importance of protein and fruit/veggies in their diet.  So we really focus in our household on achieving a healthy balance.  This can be a challenge, but what I have tried to focus on is empowering them to be able to make their own good choices.  I don't believe in depriving them but I do believe in them understanding what their bodies need.  I hope as adults they will carry on these concepts so they can be healthy and live a long life.

Lunch is a prime example of this empowerment.  The kids used to complain about me prepping their lunches for the week.  They did not always like what I packed them.  Thus, I decided to develop a system to help them and allow them to make their own choices.  It also makes our week so much easier.  I became a huge fan of lunch prepping for me and my husband and wound up extending this concept to the kids.  It makes Sunday a very busy day of prepping meals but it is so worth it to make the week run smoothly!  Also, with the kids helping, it does make my life easier for lunch prep.  

Here is a summary of how it works:

1. Every Sunday, we set up 4 bins, a bin for each day of the week.  Then we set up the kid's lunch bags for Monday's lunch.
2. I take the kitchen island and divide it into 3 sections - the protein section, the fruit/veggie section, and what I call the "potpourri" section (crackers, etc)
3. Each child takes a turn through prepping lunch.  They pick one item out of each section for each bin and for their lunch bag.  They write down for each day what they packed.  
4. Lunch bags go in the fridge upstairs, for the next day's grabbing.  The other bins of food go in the basement fridge, with their notes so they remember who is going to pack what.
5. Every night, we unpack the lunch bag from the day, and then bring up a bin from the basement to load up for the next day.
6. At the end of the week, the kids can look at the family shopping list and add any items they would like, as they begin to think about lunches for the next week.  Usually they go shopping with their dad (thank you for my awesome husband!!!) so that is another chance to grab items for lunch.

Pictures may help explain this even better:
Fruit/veggie section
Watermelon, pineapple, grapes, oranges, blueberries.
OK, so just a fruit section really.
Squeezable applesauces are a fun addition for fruit.
They are portable and easy!

On another week - here is the fruit/veggie section.
Oranges, grapes, carrots, applesauce, and seaweed snacks.
There are also some banana chips tossed in here for fun.

Protein section.
Cheese sticks, nuts, yogurt, beef sticks, cheese wedges, and ham.

Here is a different week of the protein section.
Lunch meat, cheese, and beef sticks.

The fun potpourri section.
This is a true free for all!
Popcorn, granola bars, and muffins.

Potpourri on another week.
I made Doritos using whole wheat tortillas.
There are also crepes here from an organic market.
Various granola bars are featured.
Sometimes I pre pack lunchable style items that are combo protein/carb.
Crackers and nuts.
Beef sticks and chips.
Peanut butter/jelly and crackers.

Here is what the bins look like once prepped.

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