Packing Local Lunches 101

Cartoon by Leah Wittenberg

Written on

September 01 , 2011

Packing your child’s lunch every day can be a challenge. Below are some tips for cutting down on costs, time, and the energy you put into your child’s brown bag lunch—and adding some locally grown goods!

  1. Most important, keep it simple. Making lunch for your child doesn’t have to be a struggle or a competitive sport. Just be sure you’re including a good variety: a fruit, a vegetable, a protein, and a whole grain.
  2. Cut extra raw vegetables when you are making dinner and then toss them into small containers for the kids’ lunch. The cut veggies should keep well in the fridge, so cut enough for a few days of snacks. Want to be sure they eat their vegetables? Include a dip, hummus, or goat cheese they enjoy for dipping.
  3. Children are almost universally drawn to the sweetness of fresh, local fruits and berries. When fresh fruit is available, pack small containers with ready-to-eat fruits. Consider slicing apples and pears into wedges, as many kids prefer the bite-size pieces. To prevent browning in the lunchbox, add a little lemon juice. When fresh fruits aren’t in season, you can rely on frozen fruits to do the job. An overabundance of fruit in the growing season can easily be transformed into frozen treats for later in the year. Frozen fruit makes a great lunch treat for you or the kids, particularly mixed into yogurt or with long- storing fruits such as apples.
  4. Take your child to the farm. Go to a farm stand or farmers’ market with your children and let them help pick out their fruits and vegetables. Kids who participate in growing, choosing, or cooking the food they’re served are much more likely to eat it. Pick-your-own fruits are a great way to involve the kids in putting their lunches together. At the farm stand, you can sometimes hand pick the size of apples or peaches —small for kids and larger for adults.
  5. The more colors the better! Entice your child’s interest in lunch by providing a variety of colors in their meal, thereby magically turning it into “Rainbow Meal!” Likewise, you can highlight a fruit and vegetable of a different color each day of the week so that your child will always be wondering what is special in their lunch for Red Monday, Green Thursday, or Purple Friday. Or, if you’re up for a challenge, try to create a few meals where the majority of the contents are one color—make it Monochrome Mondays with a different color each week!

Content reprinted with permission from Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) www.buylocalfood.org

Cartoon by Leah Wittenberg leahwittenberg.com

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