Adding Variety To The Lunchbox (Gift Card Giveaway)

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

Back to school is a special time of year for our family. The boys love making new friends and all of the activities the school year brings. They especially love two times of the school day: recess and lunch.

We spent weeks preparing for the school year and buying everything we needed. Most things were one time purchases but we also have daily costs like lunch. We let the boys get school lunch one time a week and then the rest of the week they pack lunch. As with any purchases, we as a family look to save money and time, and we can do both at Save-A-Lot while getting a variety of delicious choices to fill the lunchbox.

Variety is the spice of life. When it comes to my kid’s lunch boxes they love having plenty of choices. With Save-A-Lot our money gets more juice boxes and yogurts and snacks and every lunch is packed with fun. When my youngest tries to make his own lunch for school he always grabs a million things and it feels great seeing his excitement and joy.

We try to give the kids a balanced lunch and a healthy snack for each one that might not be so nutritious. We want them to enjoy eating it but, at the same time, don’t want to pack it full of junk. Save-A-Lot helps the most here because I know that I can find healthier, affordable options at their stores. I also buy bigger bags and we portion them ourselves to save even more money that way.

Another thing that changes during the school year is breakfast. Kids have less time in the mornings now to lounge around but we still want them to eat something before they leave for the day. In our house, cereal is the king of breakfast (mainly because it’s so easy)! We portion cereal in plastic bags so they can eat it while they are getting ready or in the car if we are in a hurry. Cereal serves as a friendly snack as well so we always make sure to have extra boxes on hand.

School is in session and the kids are falling into routines so the days aren’t so hectic. One thing that helps us feel prepared is to have breakfast and lunch snacks ready to go so we start our day off on the right foot. How do you make school days easier?

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a $25 Gift Card to Save-A-Lot

HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment on this post sharing a back-to-school tip.

For an extra entry, share this post on social media and leave a second comment.

Giveaway ends 9/19/2015 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 21 or older and a US resident to enter.

Sandwiches Are Cool Again (Gift Card Giveaway)

(Disclosure: Nature’s Harvest® provided me with a gift card and coupons for ingredients so that I could share my thoughts and information about Nature’s Harvest® bread.)

Back to school presents certain challenges. For me, one of the biggest challenges is making the kids school lunches in ways they are always eaten and never boring. Kids get bored with food easily and staying creative can get tough. Luckily I have 2 boys so the easiest creation is a timeless one, the sandwich. Even in today’s times, the sandwich is still king of homemade lunches.

The key ingredient to a great sandwich is not what is in the sandwich, but the bread. My kids love bread so for their sandwiches I have to choose the bread very carefully. As my boys are growing it is important to choose better quality breads and we have discovered a great brand called Nature’s Harvest®Bread . Nature’s Harvest® Bread is Nature’s Gift to your family. Your family gets the wholesome goodness you can feel great about serving them – like oatmeal, stone-ground wheat, honey, grains and seeds- without the high fructose corn syrup you don’t want to give them.

Nature’s Harvest®Bread wants to say “goodbye” to boring school lunches and “hello” to a new and exciting way to lunch!  Nature’s Harvest® Bread is holding its “Nature’s Harvest® Sandwich Art Photo Contest” to encourage moms to have a little whole grain fun with their kids’ lunchboxes.  From now through September 6th, parents can visit the Nature’s Harvest Facebook Page to submit a photo of their sandwich art creations, using Nature’s Harvest® bread, for the chance to win fun prizes!  One grand prize winner will receive a “kitchen crash” from Celebrity Chef Kelsey Nixon, where she’ll cook sandwich-centric meals and provide tips to the winner’s family

My kids tend to like simple sandwiches so I chose a few of their favorite ingredients to make something easy yet flavorful. Both boys like chicken so I chose to go with that for the meat (though turkey probably would have worked as well). Instead of mayo or mustard and cheese I decided to use an herbed cheese spread to give it that creamy taste we all love. The spread is also very kid-friendly so the boys can help make the sandwiches. For a little crunch I added red peppers since Jacob loves them and I thought it would add a little color to the sandwich.

Once the sandwich was made the boys chose their sides and grabbed a juice box and just like that lunch was ready! Nature’s Harvest®Bread has kid approved taste and texture and I love that it’s so good and healthy for them. What do you pack in your kid’s lunch?

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a $25 Visa gift card and one (1) coupon, valid for $5.00 off Nature’s Harvest® bread

HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment telling me your favorite sandwich filling

For an extra entry, share this posts on a social channel and leave a second comment

Giveaway ends September 20, 2015 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 21 or older and a US resident to enter.

Tray Talk: Learn More About Healthy School Lunches

This summer I had the privilege of attending the School Nutrition Association’s National School Lunch Conference on behalf of the SNA. I wrote about everything I learned here. I was amazed by how much school lunches have changed since I was in school. I am happy to partner with them to share this post.

The School Nutrition Association has a great website called Tray Talk that was created for parents to get the facts about school meals. Parents can get answers about the nutritional values of lunches, how school nutrition programs are working to make healthy meals kid-friendly, learn more about how special dietary needs are handled and a variety of other questions.

The site also gives parents ideas of how to get involved. The three simple steps the site suggests include:

  • Review cafeteria menus with your child and encourage them to try new menu items. Prepare new foods – especially fruits and vegetables – at home and your child may be more willing to try these foods at school.
  • Visit the school cafeteria to make your own observations and have lunch. Check with the principal first to make sure that is allowed!
  • Inquire about volunteer opportunities in your school cafeteria.  Some schools request parent volunteers to help usher students through the lunch line and encourage them to eat their fruits and vegetables.  Many school districts have a wellness committee comprised of community volunteers, to help establish district nutrition and physical activity policies.
I also loved reading about the success stories that other schools have shared. It’s fun seeing what other districts are doing to get their children excited about eating healthy meals. I wish they had things like cooking contests, spinach-strawberry salads, and farm tours to see how food was grown when I was younger! Want to learn more? Check out Tray Table on Facebook!

The New School Lunch Offerings

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

What comes to mind when you hear the term “school lunch”? When I hear that, I think of the foods that were offered when I was in grade school- pizza, overcooked broccoli, meatloaf, taco salad, hamburgers and the like. So when I was invited to Boston to attend the School Nutrition Association’s School Lunch Conference I was blown away by how much school lunches had changed.

The first thing I noticed was the variety of foods available. Yes, some of the staples from years ago are still being served but there are so many new things, too. I saw sushi, Chinese food, pasta salad worthy of a backyard celebration, mushroom burgers and shaker salads.

Another thing I noticed was the great effort that companies were going to to market their foods and make them appealing to kids and teenagers. Things like hard boiled eggs on lollipop sticks, fancy containers that made the foods look like they were from a restaurant, and colorful packages.

***

Most of all though, the main theme throughout the convention center was making school lunches healthier. Whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables were found down every row of booths. Not just healthy but the food had to taste good. As the food service coordinators for various schools shared, it’s important for food to taste good or else it’s just going to end up in the trash can and nobody wants that. I had pizza on whole grain crust that was so delicious that I would have assumed it was delivery.

And speaking of pizza…a lot of large brands were there including a well-known pizza delivery company. At first I thought it was a bit odd but it’s important to note that the foods that these well-known brands serve at schools are not the same foods that we buy at the grocery store or that we order to be delivered. All foods served in the cafeteria have to meet strict guidelines.

Overall, I left the conference feeling empowered. I really feel like, as parents, we have a responsibility to be more aware of what is happening in our children’s school cafeterias.I always thought I’d pack my children’s lunch but after attending the conference I feel more confident that my children are going to get healthy, balanced lunches at school.

Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love {Giveaway}

Last year was the first year that I had to pack a school lunch for one of my children. I struggled to come up with creative foods to pack because I was always in a hurry to get my children dressed, fed, and ready by 7:20am. It was so bad that a few months into school the teacher actually wrote me a note saying she thought Lucas would like to try something new for lunch.

This year the boys are both in afternoon sessions at their schools. Jacob will eat lunch before he leaves but Lucas will leave at 9:30 and won’t get back until around 3:30. Since Lucas is starting school later in the morning, I hope to be able to have time to prepare some more creative lunches for him.

I was sent a review copy of Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love. Thumbing through it, I found some great ideas for Lucas that were much healthier than what I packed last year. Want to win a copy of the book yourself? You can do so here!

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win the book and a set of 3 nesting, leak poof stainless steel containers by Kids Konserve {A $47 value}

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me what your favorite kid-friendly lunch is

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow me on Twitter

4) Follow Katie, the author, on Twitter

5) Subscribe to this blog via email (look in upper right hand corner)

6) Subscribe to Katie’s blog

Giveaway ends August 23, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be a US resident, 18 years or older to enter.

(Disclosure: As stated above, I received a copy of this book.)