Fix-ahead lunchbox options your kids will love!

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In perusing GreenAcres Market—especially the stores that have delis–and making a mental list of all the good things moms and dads could find to put into their children’s lunchboxes, it occurred there might be some extra special menu ideas on the Internet and in our August newsletter.

Bingo, it’s all right there: great blog lunch suggestions and on-sale specials in our monthly newsletter, making lunchtime as easy as a veggie rollup. Below are some creative lunches moms and dads who work could fix a day ahead and be ready to go when the school bell sounds:

#1: Roll it Up

Wraps are great for kids because they are highly customizable and are perfect for kids of all ages. Whether it is a whole-wheat or vegetable-based tortilla – adding loads of fresh vegetables and a yummy dip makes for a great lunch. Think of it as a salad rolled up into a sandwich – what could be better for than that? Another option is a Mexican-themed wrap: think beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese – a burrito of sorts. (Better yet, grab a Breakfast Burrito from our daily hot case the day before and have your child reheat it in the microwave at school. Or, pick up a 7-layer bean dip Snack Pack from the Bradley Fair and Westside Grab & Go and send your child off to school with a 6-oz bag of Beanfields’ gluten-free Bean & Rice chips for dipping–[2/$5] in our August newsletter.)

#2: Healthy Lunchables

Many children like those handy “lunchables” meals – the problem is store-bought prepackaged lunches are packed with artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, not to mention, the waste associated with the packaging. Instead, pack a yummy assortment of organic whole-wheat crackers, cheeses and spreads, and then pair with fresh fruit and vegetables and you have a great lunch that any child will devour. (Cut off a hunk of Brie cheese that melts naturally in a lunchbox until noon; add a bunch of dark red grapes—so juicy right now; maybe a piece of dried pineapple and a handful of Marcona almonds. Or, pick up a cheese, tuna, crackers and fruit Snack Pack from the GA Grab & Go. Getting hungry?!)

#3: Vegetable and Fruit Muffins

Who doesn’t like a muffin? A great way to add extra fruit and vegetable servings to your child’s meal is by adding them to your favorite muffin recipe. You can pack almost any type of fruit inside a muffin and many vegetables too – our favorites include yams, carrots, broccoli and mushrooms. And when you can make a couple of muffins into a lunch entree, it’s a great thing! (GreenAcres has delicious options for kids who have to watch their wheat intake: a gluten free pumpkin muffin; a handful of gluten-free Daiya Cheese shreds [$3.59 for an 8 oz packet]; a lean slice of deli nitrate-free ham; a few cut-up organic raw carrots and celery. You get the picture!)

#4: Pita Pockets

Pita Pockets are perfect for school lunchboxes. They are compact and can be packed full of all kinds of yummy ingredients. And when we say Pita Pockets, we don’t mean the frozen, highly-processed versions – we’re talking organic whole wheat pitas stuffed with cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and any of your favorite veggies. You can add whatever veggies your child enjoys for a lunch that is sure to please. (Try butter lettuce cups with our GreenAcres house-made Albacore tuna or our Free-range chicken salad with some olives, pickles or pineapple for quick and easy lettuce wraps. Tuck in a small bag of Skinny Pack all-natural, non-GMO popcorn as a little surprise at only $3.49 a 6-pack!)

#5: Panini Sandwiches

Panini sandwiches are great because they melt all of the ingredients together in a tidy little sandwich. We like to press avocado, nitrate-free bacon and cheese sandwiches or house-made almond butter, strawberry jam and goat cheese sandwiches. At lunchtime, your child can heat it up quickly or eat it cold, either way they lunchtime perfection! (GreenAcres has a huge variety of regular and gluten free breads—even English muffins—to make those gooey sandwiches! Alpine Valley Sprouted Honey Wheat with Flaxseed is delicious and is on sale for $3.49 a loaf this month in the newsletter.)

#6: Pick Your Own Cup of Soup

One GreenAcres customer has this to say: “My son is a huge fan of soups, the homemade kind, not the canned variety. To ensure that we have soup ready to go on school mornings, we make large batches of our favorite soups and store them in mason jars in the refrigerator. Each morning, we simply remove a jar of soup from the refrigerator, heat it up and put it in his thermos.” (GreenAcres Bradley Fair, KC, OKC and West offer a nutritious 3-soup menu every day. Buy extra soup when we have your child’s favorite and freeze until ready to pour into the thermos. Pack a box of R. W. Knudsen’s 100% Organic Apple Juice [2/$5] and a carton of Santa Cruz Applesauce with no added sugar [$3.49 a six pack] and you’ve got one happy camper at lunchtime!)

#7: Make it a Sampler

If your child gets bored with the same foods, try packing a “sampler.” Choose from an assortment of fresh vegetable and fruit sticks, whole-wheat pita triangles, nuts, seeds, and a few dips that can be used together. For example, a homemade (or GreenAcres bought) tzatziki sauce is perfect for dipping fresh vegetables and pita triangles. A sweet yogurt dip, such as Wallaby Vanilla Greek Yogurt [now $5.99 for a 32 oz carton] is great for fruit.  (We can’t keep tzatziki in stock at GreenAcres. Kids love dipping their veggies in it or spreading it on a leftover house-made turkey meatloaf sandwich. Add a couple of sticks of Horizon Organic Mozzarella sticks at $3.99 a pack and you’ve got yourself a winner!)

#8: Leftovers!

Says another GA customer: “If I am not feeling creative or just don’t have the energy to make a prepared school lunch, I will purposely make extra dinner and send my son leftovers for lunch. To be honest, this is probably one of his favorite options – he loves to open his lunchbox to find a large slice of vegetable lasagna, a manicotti roll or two, a serving of spaghetti or rice and vegetables.” Whatever meals your child enjoys for dinner is sure to please at lunchtime too!

What do you prepare ahead of time for your child’s school lunchbox?