Lunchbox Makeover: Healthy Choices & Yumbox
My children’s poor eating habits are a major concern of mine. I actually found myself plugging my daughter’s height and weight into a BMI calculator for children recently. I’m super sensitive because there are several individuals on both sides of the family who are considered overweight or obese in the Body Mass Index world. While I consider myself in good shape and at a healthy weight, I too have crept into the “overweight” category (which is 137+ pounds for my height… it doesn’t take much!). I know weight will be a constant battle for both my children if we’re not careful. My son is fortunate enough to burn off just about anything he eats…for now. My daughter loves junk food. I mean LOVES junk food (and honestly, don’t we all?).
Inspired by Nourish Mom’s blog on Healthy, Well-Balanced Lunches, I decided to start a school lunch makeover by introducing the Yumbox into our routine. The Yumbox is a bento-style lunchbox with an illustrated pre-portioned food guide on the tray. Full disclosure, I bought the Pottery Barn Kids Spencer Bento Boxes last September, but returned them before I could test them out. I couldn’t get my head around how to make lunch the night before and not have the snack section get soggy in the fridge. I certainly wasn’t going to make lunch at night AND add to it in the morning.
Ironically, the Yumbox doesn’t include a container for “snacks”. It has a space for the following: dairy, protein, fruit, vegetables, grains and a small section for a “treat”. No spot for snacks — now this was going to be a HUGE shift. While lunches are somewhat healthy in our house, what I really wanted to do was reduce the two different snacks in each child’s lunchbox to one — snacks like cheddar cheese rice cakes, pretzels, animal crackers, Gold Fish, Pirate’s Booty, etc. In fact, I used to be so proud of my individual packages of snacks — easy to grab, pre-made, and perfect portions:
But, my kids would get two of these every day for lunch/snack during the hours of 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and often a third on the long ride home from school. Another change I wanted to make was to pack more meat/protein-based sandwiches and almost completely cut out the cream cheese and jelly sandwiches my kids were introduced to when they were younger (our center is peanut-free so options were limited – thank goodness they now eat deli meat).
So, how is it working? Well, my kids don’t miss the snacks. In fact, they love the Yumbox so much they now ask for it. They each get it once a week (we only own one). I don’t want it to lose its luster, so I’m cautious not to use it every day. One of the things I love about it is that I can easily introduce something new without having it result in complaints. One day my daughter came home from school and excitedly told me she tried the cucumber because a friend told her she loved cucumbers. My daughter only ate one and a half and ultimately said she didn’t like them, but she tried them! That’s a win.
For me, the challenge with the Yumbox is keeping the food cold and figuring out what to put in the dairy container. I have yet to use the dairy container for yogurt — instead I pack a Greek yogurt tube on top. This is a result of the first time I used the treat container for hummus. Hummus isn’t as runny as yogurt and since it spread a bit, I assume the yogurt will spread more. For now, I use a thin ice pack with the Yumbox. I only hope it keeps the whole container cold enough, especially during these hot summer days, since the lunchboxes are out in classrooms during the day.
So far, I like this option for presenting a healthy lunch and for now, it’s working!