Tag Archives: packing lunches

Sunday Morning Shout Out

As the new school year gets into gear, perhaps you would like to spice up and “health up” the lunch you pack for your child.  I know that I sometimes feel like I get in a school lunch rut with our kids.  While giving them nearly the same thing everyday works, I would not consider making the same dinner every night.  Good food is just too exciting and important for that type of resignation.  I think I stay with the tried and true out of habit and the need to meet the tastes of three children.

I am ready to branch out!  At the “Eat Well,” website, there are some great ideas that can turn boredom on its sorry head.  From the “Pizza Roll- Up Bento Lunch” to the “Broccoli Cheese Pie” that brilliantly features the fifth food group -bacon (and can easily become a vegetarian entrée by skipping the bacon), there are great and delicious ideas here for lunch.  Even the most fickle pickle of children could find these offerings, many which have kid friendly fruits and vegetables on the side, appealing and desirable.  Think star shaped watermelon slices, and rainbow colored plates of fruits and vegetables!  These unique offerings go far to deliver a very “whole food” lunchtime meal.

Gone are the days of plain peanut butter sandwiches and hello to the days of healthier, and more interesting yum!  However, remember to throw in that old favorite once in a while.


Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Health, My Experiences, Parenting

7 Steps To Stress-Free School Mornings

A great visual reminder of what the morning routine is for younger children! (Image Credit:http://themerrymummy.blogspot.com/2010/09/routines.html)

A great visual reminder of what the morning routine is for younger children! (Image Credit:http://themerrymummy.blogspot.com/2010/09/routines.html)

Do many of your mornings feel chaotic as you wrangle your kids through the morning routine while scrambling around for gym clothes and searching for missing text books? Do you often have to make school runs to drop off forgotten homework or items for after-school activities? If your mornings are stressful, you all get a bad start to the day. While you will always get the odd morning when things don’t go smoothly, setting up routines and processes will help you and your family to get a calm, peaceful start to the school day.

Start The Night Before
One of the biggest barriers to a successful morning routine is tired children. Ensure that your students get enough sleep on school nights so that they wake up rested and refreshed.

Pick an outfit for younger students and get your teens to set out the clothes they will wear the next day to prevent last-minute fashion emergencies. As students get older, they will need more time to get ready in the morning so ensure that they get up earlier.

Breakfast really is the most important meal. Studies show that students who eat breakfast are more attentive, get better grades and have fewer behavioural problems. Provide a balanced breakfast and have some quick fixes on hand, like cereal, for mornings when things aren’t going to plan.

Start a routine where students put their homework in their bags when they are done with it and where they pack their backpacks the night before. Check diaries for upcoming events and sporting activities to ensure that they have everything they need for the next day.

Lunch Duty
One thing to realise is that you can’t do everything yourself. Consider sharing lunch duty so that each family member gets a turn to make lunches. Lunches should be made the evening before or at least prepped so that you only need a couple of minutes in the morning to put things together.

Planning lunches that comply with school meal requirements and buying everything you need on the weekend will help to make your mornings smoother.

Of course it would be wonderful if your child was able to clean their room and make their beds before leaving for school. Perhaps you even dream of a clean kitchen or laundry in the basket. But trying to cram too much into one morning will leave everyone in a bad mood. Prioritize the things they need to do to prepare for the day and leave the rest until they get home.

If a morning routine is a new concept in your home, try introducing one thing at time. This will enable your students to grow accustomed to one new process so that it becomes a habit before introducing a new idea. It only takes a couple of weeks to turn a new routine into a habit, so persevere; you will be so glad you did when your mornings are peaceful.


Note: Adapted from a post originally published 4/28/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, Organization, Parenting

School Lunch Ideas

So you and your kids are all pretty tired of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but you have very little time in the mornings and with all your other responsibilities, you just don’t have the energy to think about school lunches. What you need is a little inspiration to turn dull lunches into fun for everyone.

A healthy lunch is necessary for your child because the brain consumes 20% of your calorie intake. Your kid’s attention span, focus and ability to reason will be vastly improved when their brains have enough fuel to fire on all cylinders. Avoid food high in sugar content and opt for foods with protein, carbohydrate and high fiber content.

This sandwich is healthy, contains everything your child needs in a nutritious lunch and its yummy too!

  • 1 cup roasted chicken breast cut into squares (skin removed)
  • 2 spinach leaves
  • 1/2 pink or white grapefruit
  • 1 Red Delicious apple
  • 1/2 cup seedless green grapes
  • Dash of poppy seed salad dressing

Chop up spinach leaves and place in bowl with the diced chicken. Scoop the grapefruit out of the skin and cut the apple into chunks. Toss in the grapes and salad dressing and mix. Spoon onto the bread of your choice to make a sandwich.

Substituting wraps for bread is one of the easiest ways to give your sandwiches some pizzazz. This turkey and melon wrap provides your student with the carbohydrates, fruit and protein they need to get them through the day.

  • 1/4 melon
  • 1 wrap
  • 2 tbsp. horseradish sauce
  • 6   large lettuce leaves
  • 12 ounces thinly sliced turkey breast

Cut melon into squares and use a spoon to scoop it out of the skin.
Lay wrap on the table and spread the horseradish sauce liberally over the top. Place lettuce, melon and turkey in the wrap and fold the bottom up, then roll the wrap. Cut the wrap in half so that it’s easier to handle.
A mix of protein, carbohydrates and fruit is a perfectly balanced meal that will give your students all the energy and nutrients they need to make it through the school day. If your students are reticent to eat fruit, try new varieties like watermelon, pineapple or litchi. You can also cut the fruit into fun shapes or animals to make it more interesting. For example, slice a piece of apple, and then use a cookie cutter to press out shapes, or a paring knife to create shapes of your own design. Splash the apple with lemon juice to prevent it from browning.

For more ideas you might check the article Great tips for making packed lunches healthy! on the Modern Parenting website.

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, Nutrition Education, Parenting

Brown Bagging

Why Packing Your Own Lunch Makes Sense

Whether you are an independent teen or a parent hoping to give your child a healthier lunch, packing your own lunch is often the way to go. School lunches continue to made headlines across the US for counting pizza as a vegetable and doing other ‘screwie’ things designed to make lunches healthier. Problem is that many of the cafeteria staff and food service companies do not know how to use the guidelines and make nutritionally complete meals that are both appealing and taste good. An additional truth is that although school lunches should be healthy, cash-strapped education bodies often just don’t have the cash or the employees it takes to cook fresh, healthy meals every day. Here are some really good reasons to pack your own lunch box or bag.

The right to choose: Often, students don’t like what’s on offer for lunch and will opt for things they can count on like pizza, PB & J, or fries. If you pack your own lunch, you get to choose what you want to eat and look forward to it. This also gives you the opportunity to make healthier lunch choices. Just because lunch is healthy, doesn’t mean it has to be boring, put some work into preparation the day before so that you are not rushed in the morning. For Parents of younger children please note that involving your child in the making of their lunch is a great way to: 1. increase knowledge of healthy foods, 2. increase acceptance of what is packed (i.e., they will eat it!), 3. teach them sanitary food handling, 4, teach them how to do by their self, 5. promote responsibility and 6. spend some quality time together.

Variety is the spice of life: Eating the same tired old food every day from the cafeteria will have you wishing for a change. Packing your own lunch (even if it’s only a couple of days a week) means that you get a chance to eat your favorite foods and give yourself a welcome change. It also means that when you do eat hot dogs or pizza at school, you will enjoy it more. You also might find that after some time your body tells you these things are not healthy because of the excess sugar and salts used in them. I know my family could not go to a Burger King, Mc. D’s or Wendy’s and eat a meal since the after effect would be bloating, diarrhea, and energy high and then crash.

Fuel your brain: Despite the fact that your brain only accounts for 3% of your body weight, it uses a massive 20% of the energy you consume. Keep your brain fueled throughout the school day with healthy snacks high in fiber, carbohydrates and protein. Refueling will mean you feel less tired during the day and remember much more of your lessons, which makes studying for tests so much easier!

Show me the money: Avoid using lunch money to buy lunch. You will be far too tempted to invest in pop or junk foods from the vending machine (if the school still has them). Instead, opt for homemade lunch and save your money for something useful. Help to motivate yourself by putting your lunch money into a jar or savings account and saving up for something you really want like a new skateboard, a game, clothing, phone or music player.

Making your own lunch does take time and discipline. If you don’t have time in the mornings, try getting everything ready the night before. If you are too busy during the week, consider cooking soups, pasta dishes or meals on the weekend and freezing them in individual servings. Make sure your lunch is interesting and appealing or it may just end up in the garbage like so many purchased school lunches do.

Note: This blog was adapted from the Tutor Doctor Corporate Blog posted 4/16/12 titled “School Lunch: It’s In The Bag

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, Nutrition Education, Parenting

Sunday Morning Shout Out

There is something about the blossoms on the trees and green grass that make spring time feel like a great time for a fresh start.  This is the time of year when many opt for a good spring-cleaning of their homes. Well, I will be doing that this year, but I will also be “spring cleaning” the school year.

At the beginning of the school year, I do many well-intentioned things. Come October, they seem to have gone out the proverbial door.  Here is my list of spring-cleaning:

1)     I will really lie out the clothes the night before school. I have two little girls who can be particular about how things feel. This will save a lot of time and temperamental moments for all of us.

2)     Instead of opting for more shut eye, I will get up a half an hour before the kids each and every day. Not only does this give me a jump-start on the day, it centers me, focuses me, and provides a peaceful start each morning.

3)     The folders will be reviewed as soon as the girls get off the bus. I will stop this year’s bad habit of reading things before bedtime or in the morning. I am fortunate to have an older daughter who diligently completes all homework on her own accord.

4)     The lunches and snacks will be completely made the night before.  This will save precious time in the morning.

5)     I will have my work done by the time the girls are home from school so I can be more present when they are home and not preoccupied with my to do list.

6)     More frequently, I will go beyond the normal homework and apply the principles of what they are learning to regular life.

7)     We will look up and research the things we say we want to with the kids.

8)     My husband and I will better model a better balance of work and play for our children.

9)     We will give the kids more credit and appreciation where it is due. They have their moments as all children do, but they are great kids overall. Great kids!!!

10)  I will make these changes more permanent and not just for a short season.

Off to clean!!!

We hope you are having a good holiday weekend.


Leave a comment

Filed under My Experiences

Manic Monday Morning Routine

Ah, the morning routine. Racing around the house holding a mug of cold coffee, getting into a screaming match with your teenager about leaving for school on time just this once, finding socks and packing lunches and signing a last-minute permission slip…there’s no denying that mornings can be hectic. The tone of your morning can dictate the way the rest of your day goes, so it’s important that everyone in your family wakes up on the right side of the bed. Whether you are a veteran of the school morning routine or a beginner, there are ways you can help make your morning less stressful and more satisfying. The following are some tips we here at Tutor Doctor have found help our mornings become a little less hectic, but we are always looking for new ideas!

Pack Lunches (or Lunch Money) the Night Before

Many was the morning my mother chased me around the kitchen wielding a peanut-butter knife and pleading with me to get my brother out of bed. Making our lunches in the morning and being able to get out the door on time meant that my mom had to be up almost half an hour earlier than anyone else in the house. Maybe that works for your biological clock, but for those who like to get a few extra minutes of morning sleep, why not try making lunch the night before? By packing the night before, you miss out on the chaos of the morning and get to leisurely assemble whatever is on the menu. Packing at night also means you can make more deliberate choices about what to pack. Rather than tossing a whole apple in your kid’s lunchbox when you know she won’t eat it that way, you can take the extra time to cut it into sections and make sure she will. Some items, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, don’t do well refrigerated overnight, but you can use the time at night to get everything done you can and lay out the things you’ll need for last-minute preparations in the morning. If your child doesn’t pack lunch, take a few seconds at night to slip the money into your child’s backpack. For kids who buy, see if the school offers a way you can pay in advance, which will make your job even easier.

Lay Out Clothes the Night Before

The night before is a magical time for the morning routine. While no one in my family ever really managed to master this tip, the few times I used it proved to be very successful. Something happens to my brain in the morning where I can stand in front of my closet for hours, unable to find an outfit for the life of me, whereas the night before I can lay out five outfits like magic. Check the weather report and announce it to the entire house so everyone can pick out an outfit that will suit the predicted forecast. This will also let you pull out umbrellas, raincoats, and any other weather-specific items in advance, rather than rooting around in the closet for twenty-five minutes the next morning. This isn’t a foolproof solution, as anyone who has ever depended on a weather forecast will readily tell you, but on most mornings it should be helpful.

Set a Bathroom Schedule

Growing up in a one-bathroom house with three people meant that sometimes, you had a tough time getting sink access, and there were a few times I ended up brushing my teeth over the kitchen sink. If bathrooms become a stressful issue in the morning, try setting up a bathroom schedule. Maybe all showers will happen the night before, or your son will do his hair before breakfast instead of after. Find something that works for your family, and hopefully some morning meltdowns can be prevented.

Visualize It

A great visual reminder of what the morning routine is for younger children! (Image Credit:http://themerrymummy.blogspot.com/2010/09/routines.html)

For younger kids, having a visual reminder of the steps they need to take in the morning can be helpful. Post it near their bed, on the fridge, or wherever it will be most effective. This will keep you from having the follow them around the house all morning, reminding them of what to do, and will make them more independent.

Keep Everything In Its Place

“Dad, where’s my backpack? Lindsay, have you seen my gym clothes?” Keeping everything in its place means that there will be less morning rushing around looking for things. Put backpacks, already packed, by the door. Put your keys and other odds and ends you need for your morning on a table near the door or hung off of a coat hook. Part of keeping everything in its place is knowing what you’ll need for the next day, so if your child has a art or swimming one day you’ll need to make sure the necessary extras are packed as well. One way to remember this is to post a list of what each child needs somewhere near the door. If Mondays are soccer practice for AJ and band for Jasmine, you can make sure that they both have the necessary materials packed and ready to go. Get your kids involved in this routine, and do a check the night before. Hopefully, as the routine becomes more ingrained, they’ll need less help from you and will take more initiative themselves.

Weekends are for Relaxing

Monday morning routines may be the most difficult of your week, as you’re coming off a (hopefully) more relaxed weekend schedule. Make sure you’re in a good place for Monday mornings by getting dirty gym clothes washed before Sunday night, permission slips signed when you get home from work on Fridays, and any other miscellaneous tasks done before Sunday night. Leave Sunday night as a time to unwind and relax rather than run around frantically. Believe me, you’ll feel a lot better come Monday.

Practice Makes, Well, Almost Perfect

The reason routines work well is because you do them so often they become a habit. By repeating the same routine every morning and night before, you’ll eventually feel very comfortable with the routine you’ve set up. This isn’t to say the occasional morning crisis won’t arise, but if the routine works you should find these problems decreasing as the school year goes on. Any routine is difficult to start, but the great thing about a new school year is that it gives you an opportunity to start fresh.

What are some of the tips you have for a stress-free morning?

A great morning routine means everyone gets a good start to their day! (Image Credit:http://backpack-sale-guides.blogspot.com/2011/04/pack-little-kid-backpack_26.html)


Filed under My Experiences