(BPT) - The lazy days of summer are over, which means it's time for school supplies, school clothes and school lunches. The dairy experts at the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) have five inspired tips that will have the kids excited to dig into their lunch boxes, bags or packs.
1. Mini meals seal the deal
Kids of all ages love easy to eat, hand-held munchies. A trusty muffin tin and some creativity is all you need to make everything from mini pot pies to kid-sized pizza 'muffins.' For the pizza muffins, use your favorite refrigerator dough as a base and add a dollop of sauce, plenty of shredded cheese and any other favorite toppings. Bake ahead of time until golden brown and bubbly. Try Pinterest for more muffin tin meal inspiration.
2. Bring Your Own Lunch (BYOL)
Turn your kids into master builders by inviting them to build their own lunch. By providing the right tools for making nutritious creations at school, your kids are more apt to taste their food rather than toss it. Consider filling a divided plastic container or bento box with assorted building blocks like ham or turkey, cubes or slices of California cheese and pre-cut fruit or veggies. Include slices of multi-grain bread, pita or crackers to complete the project and don't forget a sweet treat for your little builder.
3. Reserved for lunch
Keep lunch foods corralled together in a pantry and refrigerator bin or basket reserved just for school prep. Pack your refrigerator bin with easy to pack single-serving California yogurt, string cheese, washed, sliced fruit and pre-made sandwiches. In the pantry, fill your basket with single-servings of crackers, trail mix, homemade granola bars and popcorn. Having designated spots for lunch items creates easy, stress-free lunch prep for mom or dad and the kids.
4. Eat right, be bright
Active minds and bodies need vitamins and protein instead of empty calories to succeed every day. Tell fruit drinks and sodas to take a seat, and send milk money or pack a thermos of California milk or a creamy smoothie. Nuts, popcorn or California yogurt and berries make tasty and healthy replacements for cookies and snack cakes. By making a few simple swaps, that lunchbox will contain the winning combination of nutrients they need to last until the last bell rings.
5. Leave a note
No kid is too cool for school when it comes to receiving an encouraging note from their parents. Next time you pack your little one a lunch, consider including a note, stickers or just a silly drawing to make them smile. You can even write your message on a banana or orange. Your child will thrive with the love and encouragement.