The Official Guide To Lunchbox Beveragesby Michelle Karam
To juice box or not to juice box… that is the question.
School's back in session, and I can almost guarantee that for the next 187 days, one thing you're going to be thinking about is your kid’s lunch box and what’s going inside of it!
I usually start thinking in my head the night before, wondering what exactly I am going to put in my son’s lunch box that's A. healthy, B. nutritious, and the all-important C. he’s going to eat!
Well, let me absorb part of your concern right here and now, and give you one less part of the lunch box to think about: what your child drinks!
It's probably one of the most important parts of the lunch box, because when our kids are running around on that playground for 45 minutes, they’re going to need plenty of hydration and they’re gonna need it fast! We all know that when our kids are at school, the last thing they’re thinking about is making sure they get enough fluids! And as parents, the last thing we want to give to our kids are drinks that are filled with sugar, high carbohydrates and calories!
So when summer started this year, I made a vow to myself (and my kids) that I was going to spend the summer on the hunt for the best drinks to pack in my kids lunch box…because this school year, we are going to be healthy!
There I stood with them in the supermarket, in a seemingly endless aisle filled from top to bottom with all kinds of boxed juices, flavored waters and so on. We tried just about every drink out there, and let me tell you some of these companies REALLY try to fool you with the wording on the FRONT of the labels! It’s the BACK of the labels that you truly have to read! There are things to look out for and red flags that are just no-no’s!
Here it is… an official guide to lunchbox drinks:
First and foremost, let me say WATER! WATER! WATER! WATER! It’s the best option for your kids. It’s filled with minerals and is the only beverage that can absolutely give your children the hydration that they need. Children are still growing and developing new cells every day, and water helps aid this process. One sure fire way to get your kids to drink water is to do this: get a bottle of water and put it in the freezer the night before. Put it in the lunch box the next day and it serves a dual purpose. Not only will it be a great ice cold drink that will be melted just perfectly by the time lunchtime swings around, but if you pack a cheese stick or some cut up carrot sticks and ranch, it’ll keep them perfectly cold and crisp!
Milk is another great option for the lunch box. When giving your kids milk, try to go for low-fat or 2% options. Whole milk just has far too much fat and calories for your little ones… way more than they need in fact. My son happens to love Horizon Organic Milk Boxes. They come in a few different flavors: Original, Chocolate, Strawberry & Vanilla. They are also chock full o’ VITAMINS & CALCIUM! Vitamin D is actually really important for helping the body absorb calcium. And we all know, calcium is good for those growing bones! The best part about these milk boxes is that they can be stored in your pantry until you are ready to drink them! A big no-no to watcth out for is that some milk companies will try to add sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Your best bet is unflavored milk...but if you must go with a flavor, it’s still better than nothing!
Oh juice. Sweet juice. Juice was one of our biggest challenges this summer. I’m not lying when I say that I was actually on the hunt for a healthy juice drink for my kids! And I think we succeeded in finding the perfect balance between great taste for them and without an overload of sugar, carbs and calories! Some of the things I found out while I was researching is that the USDA does not consider anything other than 100% fruit juice as a serving of fruit. So this would be the time to check the outside of the box and read it front (and back) - a lot of times things say made with REAL FRUIT but in reality you’re probably getting only about 10% of something that might have resembled a fruit at some point! It has to say 100% JUICE.
We narrowed our search down to two!
The first one was JUICY JUICE. It actually is made from 100% Juice and is packed with flavor! So if you have a picky eater that really isn’t into fruit… this is a great way to sneak some in! The grape and apple are my kids' favorite. One of the things I did with the juice box was to put it in the freezer overnight. Then in the morning, I put it in a zip lock bag (to catch any drippies) and it was like a fruit slushee! There’s no extra sugars or flavors added to this and that makes it a-ok in my book! They love it! I love it.
The other one that we had a unanimous "yes it’s yummy and yes it’s healthy" agreement on was from POM WONDERFUL. It’s a new drink called LITE POM. Now before you freak out and say my kid is NOT going to drink straight pomegranate juice… pump the brakes and listen up. This is probably one of their favorite drinks and mine too! It’s 100% pomegranate juice (which we all know is like the best ever antioxidant for our bodies) and it’s mixed with real fruit juices- like blackberry and dragonfruit. It’s a lighter, sweeter tasting beverage and comes in a fantastic bottle. Yes, the bottle was attractive to the kids - hey, packaging works too! Plus, there are ZERO added sugars or additives too, which is great!
THINGS NOT TO PACK:
Let’s be straight… we know what not to pack. Of course you aren’t going to put a soda in your kids lunch box because you know that it’s just filled to the brim with high fructose syrup, calories and other things you really don’t even want to be giving them. Of course you also aren’t going to be giving things with tons of caffeine or coffee to your little ones either- that Frappuccino, as tasty as it might be on a Saturday afternoon when mom or dad goes by Starbucks and gives them a little treat is the biggest NO on my list. Also energy drinks… Red Bull, Energy Booster, etc… Do I need to list the reasons?
Choosing a healthy drink for your kid's lunch box is as important as picking out what they’re going to eat! They’re so limited on time and let’s face it, they’d rather be out on that playground! So considering the little bit of attention that they're give to their lunch, you want to make sure the drink is a healthy option loaded with nutrients, vitamins and most of all hydration so you can maximize it to the fullest! The key is to avoid drinks with too much sugar or too many calories!
WATER. MILK. 100% JUICE.