Wednesday, August 14, 2013



"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
                                                  -- Steve Jobs

Summer vacation for America’s kids is coming to a close and the first day of school is almost here.  What was the best part of YOUR summer vacation?  

Lead the way for a great school year by innovating with school lunches.  The best school lunch your kids will get is the one they make with you.  Getting the right balance of good carbohydrates, lean protein, and the healthy fats can make the difference in your kids' success at school (and your success at work).  

Let’s start by planning:

1.  Pick out a great lunch box for each of your kids (and one for you so you can take healthy lunches to work).  Google “bento lunch boxes” for new ideas.  What is a bento?  Quite simply, a bento is a visually appealing lunch in a box.  According to Wikipedia, a bento is “a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine.  A traditional bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container.”  Remember to plan for a way to keep the lunch cool with an icepack inside an insulated lunch bag.  Some of the containers I have been using in our Growing Healthy Kids’ programs are the square and rectangular plastic boxes with built-in cooler packs.  Check out stores like TJMaxx and Homegoods for a great selection. 

Ready to learn how to make a bento box? Click here to watch the video!

Click here for an overview of how to make a bento lunch.

2.  Take a walk with your kids through your favorite food market or big box stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.  Make a list of 10 foods that store well and can be bought in bulk (to keep costs down).  Here are some ideas:

  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, etc.)
  • Dried fruits (bananas, apples, apricots, peaches, cherries, blueberries)
  • Dark chocolate squares (Ghirardelli has always been my favorite brand since visiting Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco throughout my childhood growing up in California.)
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Triscuit crackers
  • Miniature whole grain bagels (which can be frozen)

3.  Now make a list of protein foods that can be easily prepared once or twice a week.  Here are some ideas:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Quinoa salad
  • Hummus (pack with celery, carrots, or cucumbers)
  • Tuna
  • Canned wild salmon
  • Wrap sandwiches made with whole grain breads (check out flat-outs and La Tortilla Factory’s choices).  These can be used with sliced cheeses and low-fat meats like turkey. 
  • Peanut butter or almond butter (make your own cracker sandwiches with whole grain crackers or flatbreads)
  • Whole grain pasta salad (use Dreamfields rotini pasta as the base)

4.  Keep a chart in the kitchen of the seasonal fruits and veggies where you live so you can incorporate those into the plan.  Fresh is best! Buy from your local farmers whenever possible.  

5.  Buy a stainless steel water bottle.  Your kids can fill it with water each night and place it in the fridge to chill overnight.  Make a family pledge to stop using disposable plastic water bottles.  Go back to school in style with the stainless steel Growing Healthy Kids water bottle--click here.

6.  Create a weekly lunch menu with your kids.  Keep a notebook for this so you can note which lunch items were a hit!   

Email your favorite summer adventures to us and we will post some in the next couple of issues of WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS.  Email us at  

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.