Every Fall when the yellow and black school bus pulls up to our driveway for the very first time, our bus driver remarks that he gets the warmest, most joyful greetings from the parents, not the kids. Not to say I did not have a blast this summer with my kids, but I would be telling stories if I did not admit I happen to be one of the widely grinning parents. While the summer brings with it freedom, fun, unexpected surprises, and long, sunny days, by the end of it I begin to crave the routine school days bring.
With school starting in just a couple of days, I been running around (of course, last minute) to fill my kids backpacks with school supplies and each year while I do this I also try to replenish the healthy lunch box staples I like to have on hand. Here are just a few of the classics: Honest Kids Thirst Quenchers Pouches - Unlike other fruit juice pouches that are loaded with unhealthy sweeteners, too much sugar and artificial colors and flavors, I’ve found these great-tasting all-natural fruit-drink pouches my kids really love. Not only are they USDA Organic, made with no high fructose corn syrup and contain half of the sugar of most portable drinks (10g sugar) on the market you can also buy them at Target! While priced slightly higher than other portable drinks, I try to load up when I catch them on sale and even when they are not I feel the cost difference is nominal compared to the piece of mind I get knowing I'm not loading my kids up on empty calories. Honest Kids Thirst Quenchers comes in three flavors (that I’ve found), Tropical Tango Punch, Goodness Grapeness and my kids personal favorite, Berry, Berry Good Lemonade. Another feel good benefit, Honest Kids has partnered with Terracycle to teach kids the importance of caring for our planet. With the help of Terracycle, Honest Kids will donate $.02 per pouch to the school or organization of your choice, and they will recycle the used pouches to create fashionable accessories like bags and other school supplies. Go towww.terracycle.net/dpbto sign up.
Annie's Cheddar Bunnies - While I’ve been using Annie’s Macaroni & Cheese for quite some time, I’ve just recently discovered these great-tasting, wholesome bunny-shaped crackers. While they deliver the same kid-friendly appeal as those extremely popular goldfish shaped crackers, these cute little bunnies are not swimming in the same unhealthy waters. Unlike the other brand, Annie’s Cheddar bunnies contain no hydrogenated oils, no added sugar and are made with organic cheddar cheese and organic flour. Like Honest Kids, these crackers don’t need to be purchased at a specialty store – I found these at Target (on-sale) too. They also come in wheat and graham crackers as well as in portable pouches.
FruitaBu Organic Smooshed Fruit - If your kids consider fruit snacks a lunchbox staple like mine, you might like me tirelessly pore over the nutritional labels of every bright colored, character-ridden box of fruit snacks and fruit roll-ups in the hopes of finding just one box that does not contain tons of sugar, high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors and colors (do you know a fruit that is naturally neon green?) as well as other unnatural ingredients. While Fruitabu has made fruit leathers for sometime, what makes Fruitabu Fruit Twirl so fun and unique is that it is a long, thin strip of dried fruit puree pressed onto a piece of waxed paper and all rolled up in a portable package – similar in design to many of the popular, sugar-laden brands kids are consistently clamoring for. However, unlike those brands, Fruitabu is made with organic fruit purees and organic fruit juices, with no added sugar or artificial anything. Also, it is considered one serving of real fruit at only 80 calories a serving. Fruitabu Fruit Twirl is available at most supermarkets and once again, Target. It comes in many flavors, including Strawberry, Raspberry, Apple, Grape and Apricot.
Another tip, here is a really cool, environmental-friendly website for reusable lunch boxes and stainless steel water-bottles. You really need to check out the “Laptop Lunch Box.” It looks like a bento-box with five containers that fit like a puzzle into a larger box. Works great for filling your kids lunch with all kinds of healthy and affordable stuff -- fruits, veggies, cubed cheese, crackers,etc., while keeping them all contained nice and neat. This box would work great for toddlers on the go to.http://www.reusablebags.com
For more thoughtful and nutritional lunch box ideas go to one of my favorites –www.ilunchbox.com.