Working parents don’t get a break from packing lunches. It’s a year-around job. Summertime lunches, differ though and pose their own set of challenges. For one thing, everyone has the brown bag blues. Everyone’s ready for a change, mom included! It’s time to switch- it up and make the tummies and taste buds happy with a healthy camp lunch!
The weather and the children’s activity level is also very different in the summer. During the school year, they’re sitting at their desks. For summer day camp, they’re running, building forts, sweating and exerting lots of energy. This means bigger appetites!
To combat the warmer weather, lunch boredom and larger appetites here are some tips and tricks for packing a camp lunch.
Water! Water! Water! Children can overheat quickly and become dehydrated. It takes them longer to cool down. To help keep them stay well hydrated and keep their appetite under control, pack lots of water. Avoid sugary drinks that just add wasted calories to their diets. If a child says they’re hungry, ask them to drink some water first. Often times they’re thirsty not hungry!
Tip: Add fresh fruit to their water bottle for an extra special treat or freeze fruit in ice cubes to add to their water bottles.
Tis the Season for Salads! With the farmer’s markets brimming with fresh vegetables and fruits, pack salads. Try packing a whole wheat pasta salad with cut up fresh vegetables and their favorite cheese. This is a great way to add a rainbow of colors to their diet! It’s also a great way to sneak in new vegetables they might not even know they like!
Ditch the Traditional Sandwich. Choose a new bread or cheese to try! Consider making a roll-up with whole wheat flat bread, ham, cream cheese and shredded carrots. How about using a bagel instead of bread or maybe even ditching the bread and making a lettuce wrap? Get creative and try new combinations of foods beyond just the traditional PB&J.
Pack Nutrient Dense Foods. Choose foods that are low in sugar but high in protein. This helps to give the children the energy they need and keep them fuller longer. Consider a high protein OP organic smoothie paired with a homemade energy bar and fresh sliced carrots and cucumbers.
Tip: If possible, use a collapsible water bottle that can also serve as an ice pack to keep lunches cold. For food safety it is imperative to keep lunches cold. Read this article and watch this video about how I pack my children up for summer camp each morning.
Breakfast is Important. Kids burn off energy quickly and during summer day camp they’re hiking, swimming and running. They need a breakfast that’s going to keep them full and give them the energy they need to start their day off right. One easy breakfast that is filling and the children love is homemade muffins and instead of oil, I use Stonyfield Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt. It’s better for us and has the extra protein the kids need. The muffins also make for a great leftover for the lunch the next day!
Tip: Check out Stonyfield’s substitution guide for other tips on how you can use yogurt for your recipes and baking!
Packing lunch’s year-around can certainly get “old” and tiring but don’t let it cause you to get into a rut. Think of it as a way for you to introduce new types of foods into your child’s diet. Take full advantage of the farmer’s market and have your children go with you and explore all of the options. It might even peek their interest to try something new!
Whatever you do, pat yourself on the back. It’s no easy task to pack a lunch year-around! So good job! Hopefully these tips help make packing a camp lunch easier.