Improving the Quality of School Lunches

It doesn’t really matter that the sun hasn’t made its way to past the Earth’s equator yet to announce that fall is officially here. We celebrated Labor Day, which means that pools are closing and schools are opening. As we all know, that’s the official end to summer.

For parents, we can put away our summer reading books and say good-bye to carefree summer nights. Our energies now have to go into preparing for the next day’s activities. And, making those kid’s lunches.

No matter what productivity app we’re using, our lives get busier and more complicated all the time, and meal prep can be challenging. Sometimes, we even take short cuts. We’ll toss in those little prepackaged things those nice billion dollar food companies give us and probably advertise on TV so it’s top of mind when we’re grocery shopping or getting those lunch boxes ready.

Well, I’ve personally spent hundreds of hours observing parents in grocery stores the last few months while I was handing out samples of our B’more Organic skyr smoothies. I watched what goes into those grocery baskets. I’ve seen a lot faux health products and nicely packed, ready-to-eat foods tossed in those carts by well-meaning parents.

At the same time, our own kids turned two and started demanding snacks. Initially, we reached for those handy little “fish” and put them in sandwich bags like our parents did for us. Of course they devoured the hydrogenated oil and sodium pills! Then, I tried an experiment and tossed raw cashews in a bag. They devoured them equally as fast. The kids even asked for more.

What that taught me was that most big food companies will either remind you through ads about their product or make it easier to eat. (Though I do see that changing finally.) And, we’re often fooled about what’s really healthy, like those “yogurts” in those cool cartons with cool cartoons on them. Most are really sugar tubes with a dash of yogurt. Look at the backs of those containers. Put them down if you can’t pronounce what’s in it, there are more ingredients are more than you have fingers, or if there’s more sugar than protein. Real yogurt shouldn’t have too much sugar. And, I’ve personally witnessed it hundreds of times: kids will eat real yogurt. There are no cartoons characters on our packages, but kids love our skyr smoothies when we hand it to them in a generic cup.

Even organic yogurt products can contain way too much sugar.

So, I would encourage parents to 1) use a little creativity when packing lunches and replace unhealthy snacks with better choices like we did with the cashew nuts. And, 2) read the back of the box for sugar and 3) give foods that are as close as to they are grown. Remember, fresh fruit has neat little packaging too!

Try some of these tricks this year:

• Buy plain yogurt and add a tiny amount of natural sweeter (honey or stevia) and put it a Tupperware.

• Make a surprise bag with a different healthy choice every day. Some of mine include: raw pistachios, raw pumpkin seeds, peanut butter on dates, and grapes.

• Get rid of those bottled sugared drinks! Try putting water, stevia, and lemon juice in a reusable bottle; it tastes like lemonade with zero sugar or chemicals.

The most important thing is to be creative. Healthy eating can be fun and easy if you think ahead. As we say at B’more Organic: let’s B’more healthy!

This article was written for from Andrew Buerger of B'More Organic. B'More Organic is an organic food company based on skyr, an Icelandic style yogurt. Our foundation is based on local, family-owned and operated sustainable farming.

We translated our passion for healthy living, fundraising, and environmental stewardship into a business selling easy to consume, great-tasting organic foods that are the perfect proportion of protein to carbohydrates.