Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Fine Art of Packing Healthy Lunches by Guest Blogger Veronica Smith (09/19/2010)

The Fine Art of Packing Healthy Lunches 
by Veronica Smith

One habit that many people would like to develop is packing their lunch every morning, as well as lunch for the rest of their family. There are many advantages to home-packed lunches, such as having total control over the healthiness of the foods that go into the lunchboxes, as well saving quite a bit of money as compared to buying lunch every day. However, it can sometimes be difficult to get into the daily habit of packing lunches, and even more difficult to think up easy and yet interesting lunches that you and your family will enjoy.

Start with New Lunch Boxes
Let everybody in the family choose a new lunch box to kick-start your effort, which can help get the family excited. When shopping for lunch boxes, make sure that they are sturdy enough to be able to withstand being carried to work or school every day, and are large enough to pack an adequate lunch. They should be insulated and have cold packs available, so that you can pack foods that need to be kept cold without worrying that they will spoil before lunchtime.

Involve Your Family in the Lunch Menu Planning Process
Children who are used to eating school lunches, as well as spouses who are used to eating out at restaurants for lunch might be a little reluctant to replace their usual routine with a home-packed lunch. Involving everybody in the process of choosing lunch foods is a good idea, helping to insure that everybody gets a few of their favorites every day. Make a list of everybody's favorites to refer to when you need inspiration for what to pack in everybody's lunch box.

Streamlining the Lunch Packing Process
One obstacle to lunch packing is the time it can take. There's always the temptation to just give the children lunch money when you are rushed for time. To help insure that lunches get packed on schedule, set some time aside each evening to prepare. You can package up many of the lunch items in advance, such as cutting up vegetables and placing them in individual sandwich bags, or even preparing sandwiches in advance if they are not made from ingredients that could make the bread get soggy overnight. You can also pre-chill drink boxes in the freezer overnight, which will help keep lunches cold the next day, while thawing in time for lunch. Another easy trick for speeding up the lunch packing process is to just automatically divide foods up into individual portions as soon as you buy them from the store. This method is much less expensive than buying foods already packed in individual servings, while still providing you with a handy supply of individually bagged lunch foods, ready to pop into the lunch boxes in the morning.

Choosing Healthy Foods
Just because a lunch is packed at home doesn't necessarily mean it is healthy. Become an expert in finding good and nutritious foods for your family. When selecting beverages, individual juice boxes that contain 100 percent juice are often the best choice. Small cartons of milk are also good as long as you include an ice pack. Children love finger foods, so bags of cut up vegetables, grapes, or cherry tomatoes are excellent choices for lunches. If your spouse loves salad, make clean-up easy by putting the salad greens in one sealable sandwich bag, and the dressing in another. Then all they need to do to pour the dressing into the salad bag, shake, eat, and throw everything away when finished. Don’t forget to include a fork.

Veronica Smith, is a freelance artist and consultant with She enjoys sharing her creative approach to decorating with metal artwork and tree wall 

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