What’s New in Back-to-School Lunches and Snacks as seen on Arizona Midday
What’s new in lunchbox gear?
Keep it cold
My favorite lunch bag is Pack-It, since the ice packs are built right into the walls of the bag. The whole bag goes into the freezer, keeping food cold for up to ten hours. No dealing with soggy, leaky gel packs or bags of ice.
Pack-It comes in two models:
Keep it simple
Bento boxes are perfect for kids–lots of options in a compact little box. YUMBOX keeps bento simple. They provided me with some samples a couple of months ago, and they’ve been a hit in our house, which you can see above. YUMBOX lets you pack up your kids’ favorites in an easy, leakproof container. And with just two pieces, you don’t have to worry about keeping track of a dozen different containers and their matching lids. Just pop the insert out and into the dishwasher and you’re good to go!
What travels well without ice packs?
Fruit is a must when packing lunches, but favorites like bananas can bruise and sometimes you just don’t have time to wash and chop. Here are some of my favorite fruit alternatives.
I’ve been loving KIND bars for years and work with them to spread the good word. KIND Pressed is their new line made with just dried fruit and chia seeds, or dried fruit and veggies with no added sugar. That’s it! You get two servings of fruit per bar, plus a good source of fiber. They taste like really good fruit leather. My toddler and I LOVE these! Bonus: they won’t bruise in your bag. I keep one in my purse for me and my girls.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to receive the rest of these products as free samples so I could test them out on my family first.
Crunchies are just freeze-dried fruit. No added sugar, nothing but fruit! Freeze drying creates a fun crunchy texture that kids love. They are great to toss with nuts or granola.
My girls love applesauce cups in their lunch boxes. Dole Mixations are a fun variation on our ol’ standby. Smooth fruit purees are studded with chunks of real fruit in fun flavors like Pineapple Mango and Apple Raspberry. Plus, no artificial flavors!
What can we give to kids who are cracker obsessed?
Cracker alternatives for lunchboxes
There’s no denying kids love crackers. Farmhouse Cheddar Almond Flour Crackers from Simply Mills sneak in more nutrition than your average Saltine or Ritz. Or serve your regular cracker standby with peanut or almond butter to dip for added protein. Hummus is another great alternative–two spoonfuls counts as a serving of veggies.
How do you keep track of all your gear?
I love Mabel’s Labels. Say goodbye to the masking tape and the markers on your gear. These labels are self-adhesive, waterproof and dishwasher safe. They even have labels for clothing.
Ideas for lunchbox treats that won’t raise eyebrows from the teacher?
Most schools have wellness policies now and do not want us packing really indulgent sweets. You can respect that while still giving your kids a fun treat.
A cookie that delivers nutrition, too.
Bitsy’s Brainfood is a line that carries alphabet-shaped cookies that boast whole grains as the first ingredient. Flavors like sweet potato oatmeal raisin are fortified with vitamins and minerals that kids are falling short in, like vitamin D, calcium and iron. Plus kids love the fun shapes and colorful packages.