Disclosure: This post is sponsored by GIANT Food Stores. I received a gift card and package containing the items shown to facilitate this post. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.
And so it begins. Back to school season is in full swing and as much as some of us are not looking forward to the summer coming to an end, the beginning of school is just a few short weeks ahead.
Along with back to school comes another year of routines for parents including school supply shopping, packing lunches and finding healthy, portable snacks that work well for both school lunch boxes as well as after school pick-me-ups. If you are anything like me, I am always looking for new ideas and suggestions to help switch up the same old boring PB&J sandwiches and to add some interest and variety that my kids will enjoy but will also be good for them.
Did you know that some local GIANT stores have nutritionists available onsite for individual consultations, classes, weight loss and healthy, kid-friendly and family-friendly meal ideas? I had the opportunity to visit with the nutritionist at the Havertown PA store last year. She was not only incredibly resourceful but she was easy to talk to and offered so many wonderful suggestions for both my diet and my family’s meal planning. Check out more about my visit with her HERE. Individual consultations are by appointment and are $20 per session. However, with each paid appointment, participants receive back a $20 GIANT gift card upon completion that can be used toward your next shopping trip. GIANT is basically offering affordable (and practically free) health and wellness education which is especially beneficial for those unable to afford to meet regularly with a dietician or when insurance will not pay or copays are simply too high for such specialty services. It is definitely worth making an appointment if you are looking for advice when it comes to meal planning for yourself and your family. You have nothing to lose!
The awesome nutritionists at GIANT Food Stores have come up with this awesome infographic that includes ideas to help parents think outside of the lunchbox when it comes to building a better lunch for your family:
I love that not only is this super easy to follow, but the infographic also ends with a “finish” that includes a personal note or something special to let your child know you are thinking of them and sending them love. I can still remember how much little notes like these meant to me when I was a child. Any chance I can to let my children know how much I love them is always one I choose to take advantage of – and this idea is a great one for doing so. Do you pack special messages for your child in their lunch?
In addition to the infographic, GIANT nutritionists have also come up with their top five tips for building a better lunch and they wanted me to share them with you to help with your planning:
1. Use My Plate as a reminder to include the five food groups – grains, protein, fruits, veggies and dairy.
This site has colorful graphics, tips and tricks to make packing lunch so much easier. In addition, they also offer printable materials that are easy to reference in a snap. I’m planning to print out a copy of the My Plate poster from the website to hang on the side of the refrigerator as a reminder to both myself and my children as to what to include in their balanced lunch each day.
2. Remember to include a minimum of 3 food groups in your child’s lunch.
Personally, I find that the lunch looks much more appealing when it contains some color so I find it easy to pick out bright, colorful fruits and veggies to compliment the less colorful grains and dairy items. Who doesn’t love the appeal of a pretty lunch? I also find that when possible, cutting food options into fun shapes also adds interest, especially with little ones.
3. Get kids involved.
Before the hectic school schedule starts, sit down with your child and make a list of all of their favorite foods in each of the five food groups. This list will not only help you to stock up on items that will be perfect for lunches, but it will also be great for referencing My Plate to mix and match and create interesting pairings that your child will enjoy. When possible, let your child assist with assembling and packing their meals. Many times when they make it themselves they are even more excited when it comes time to eat it.
Lunchboxes with divided sections or individual smaller containers help you to remember to include multiple food groups. If you do not have these, you can use things like cupcake liners or small baggies to help separate items in a larger container. When picking out a lunch box to carry these containers in, I always try to keep in mind size, shape and space so that I will be able to easily pack multiple small containers that will be easy to remove and return back to the bag when my child is eating and finished her lunch at school. GIANT has some really awesome options in store as shown in the picture above.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Think Outside of the Lunchbox
Tired of the same old PB&J? Lunch can be so much more than just a sandwich! Use your imagination to combine different healthy choices such as cheese and crackers, fruit and cheese skewers or rice cakes with peanut butter or nut free Sunbutter. You can also try things like hard boiled eggs and baby carrots with hummus or dip, cold pasta salad with veggies or use a thermos for warm soup or a stir fry. The possibilities are endless and can keep lunch boredom away!
Before your next trip to GIANT, gather some ideas for meals, make a list and stock up. Meal planning is so much easier when you plan ahead and takes a ton of stress off of last minute packing. I have also found that when possible packing a lunch the night before instead of first thing in the morning allows more time for breakfast and family conversation before school. Last but not least, help stick to your budget and save money by trying some of GIANT’s Own Brand and Nature’s Promise items. With everything from Granola and nuts to pita chips, cereals, raisins and juice and too many more to list, shopping for healthy and organic snacks and meals does not have to break the bank! I have tried several of the snacks mentioned above and all have been a big hit with my kids too! I’ve been putting the kids creativity to work by having them mix and match some of the Giant’s Own Brand products with some of the Nature’s Promise products to create unique trail mixes using a combination of ingredients. Some we have tried are Cereal O’s, raisins and nuts; granola bits, craisins and mini crackers and even a mixture of almond butter, granola and raisins! There are also some awesome Savory: fast, fresh and easy recipes right on GIANT’s website, as well as in their in store magazine, which is FREE with purchase, to offer some additional inspiration. The possibilities are endless! It is so much fun to switch things up!
Who would like to get creative with some of their very own GIANT products? Thanks to the generous folks over at GIANT, one very lucky Delco Deal Diva reader is going to receive a $25 GIANT gift card to use toward your back to school supplies and snacks! Simply enter via the easy Rafflecopter below. Winner will be selected on September 2, 2016. Good Luck!