Eat Right: Eco-Friendly School Lunches

Green Your Routine With Eco-Friendly School Lunches

With the school year back in full swing, parents across the country are getting back into the lunch-packing routine. This year, many of us are making it a goal to cut down on our environmental impact, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by adding some green to our kids’ packed school lunches. 

Why the green focus?

Moms and dads around the world are educating new generations of eco-minded youngsters every day. The impacts of climate change, unethical growing and distribution practices, and chemical add-ons are everywhere–but they don’t have to be in your food.

 

 

Many families have trouble committing to a fully “green” lifestyle, especially because it can be tough to identify what fully “green” really is! By committing to greener school lunches, you’re taking steps toward reducing your family’s carbon footprint all while teaching your kids how to be more environmentally responsible. 

Eco-friendly packaging

Packaging is one of the biggest culprits for unnecessary waste on school grounds. How many pieces of single-use packaging are in a single school lunch? When you consider the sandwich bag, plastic wrap, juice pouches, straws, and cutlery, it all adds up into a stack of single-use plastic we would all be better off without. 

Eco-friendly packaging is much more affordable today than it used to be, and the options are almost endless! One of the most convenient (and cutest) eco-friendly options out there is the “bento box.” Modeled after Japanese lunches, where each meal component is separated into its own small compartment, bento boxes use built-in or adjustable plastic dividers to divvy up your kids’ lunch containers. Now, instead of needing plastic wrap and sandwich baggies for your sandwich, veggie sticks, dip, and dessert, you’ve got one convenient (and reusable!) box that holds every piece without any messes or spills. Lunchtime prep can be easy and fun by just filling up the little boxes with whatever healthy foods you have on hand: veggies, fruit, nuts, crackers, berries, cheese, pasta, and more. 

 

  

 

Here are some more easy swaps you can make in your kids’ lunch bags:

  • Scrap the traditional “brown bag” or plastic bag. Have your kids pick out a fun (inexpensive) lunch box instead. 
  • Pack a hot lunch in a Thermos Funtainer or similar re-usable container that holds temperature for hot or cold foods.
  • Why use a disposable plastic sandwich bag when there are so many new options? Try waxed fabric, a reusable plastic container, zip bag or fabric sandwich bags. (We’ve got a few shaped like dinosaurs!) These are great reusable snack bags by two+two
  • Instead of plastic wrap, try reusable wax paper, beeswax wraps, or cloth bowl covers.
  • Tempted by those single-serving prepackaged snacks? Save money by buying one big box. Fill reusable containers like Tupperware, snap-tops, and preservation bags. Pediatricians recommend milk and water for kids, so skip the juice boxes altogether and pack some fruit in a reusable drink container. These now are available in all styles and keep drinks cold for long periods of time.

Eco-friendly food options

If you’re worried about the carbon footprint of the food your family eats, it may be helpful to take a few minutes to research where some of your most-used products come from. 

For example, when foods are shipped over long distances, their environmental impact grows to include automobile emissions, packaging materials, and cost of labor. On the other hand, if you fill out your family’s meal plans with locally-grown meat and produce, you’re cutting down your carbon footprint — AND supporting your local community. 

Another way to “greenify” your meals is by planning at least one or two vegetarian, vegan, or ethically-sourced meals each week. Some meat and dairy products tend to have more of an environmental impact than similar plant-based products. Plus, processed meats are often high in sodium, nitrates, and other additives. 

When in doubt, it’s best to plan your meals around organic, locally-sourced, seasonal produce–and (when you can) supplement with ethical meat products grown responsibly and locally!

We all try to do our part to preserve the planet. 

Your kids’ lunches are one small way you can help reduce your carbon footprint and teach your kids to be more environmentally conscious. With some preparation and imagination, your kids’ lunches can be delicious, nutritious, and green as can be!  And hey, don’t let the kids have all the fun — you can green your lunches on the go too! 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton pajamas and baby clothing. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: Celebrate Summer with a Backyard Camping Trip

If you don’t have the time or funds for a weeklong vacation, you can still celebrate your favorite outdoor traditions with a backyard camping trip! Pitch your tent in the grass, bring out pillows and sleeping bags, and enjoy all the fun of a summer adventure without the added stress of a long-distance vacation. 

1. Take Your Tent Up A Notch

 

Get Your Kids In On The Fun

Before the big day, have your kids make their own decorations to turn your backyard into a camping destination. From outdoors-themed coloring pages to wreaths, birdhouses to hand-painted tiki torches, these creations will give your kids the added fun of seeing their hard work transform your home into a state park.  

 

Light It Up

For some extra decorations, string lights and quirky battery-operated lights bring a gentle, warm glow to every summer evening. If your backyard has wall outlets, you can break out your holiday lights. For a fun DIY project, fill Mason jars or brightly colored plastic containers with battery-operated string lights. These can then be placed in the tent or around the backyard for a colorful evening glow! 

 

Tent Games

Turn your tent into a game room with your favorite board games, or make up your own! (Pro tip: this is a great activity for a rainy day!) When it gets dark, use lanterns or flashlights to create shadow puppets on the walls of the tent. For an educational twist, invest in a constellation lamp or tapestry and teach your kids to read the stars.   We love The Night Sky by local educator and author Garrick Pfaffmann .

 

2. Kid-Friendly Campfire Recipes

 

Breakfast: Tin Foil Egg Boats

These tin foil breakfasts are perfect for picky eaters and adventurous foodies alike. Shape two pieces of tin foil into a “boat” and a lid. Fill the boat with whisked eggs, chopped veggies, pre-cooked bacon, or your other favorite proteins. Then, carefully fold the tin foil lids over the boats to make closed, football-shaped containers. Cook these on a grill or stick with a marshmallow spear to roast over an open fire. After 5-10 minutes, the eggs and mix-ins will be perfectly cooked. Top with shredded cheese, salsa, or sour cream and dig in! 

 

Lunch & Dinner: Campfire Meals   

Cooking over a campfire adds a new layer of smoky flavor to every meal. Did you know baked potatoes can be an entire delicious, nutritious meal? Scrub and salt your potatoes, wrap in tin foil, and place directly in the coals of your campfire. Let roast for 45 minutes, then set aside to cool. When they’re ready to eat, add your favorite toppings — your kids can mix and match healthy favorites like broccoli, olives, scallions, salsa, and cheese — and dig in! For a cheesier twist, you can make grilled cheese or quesadillas over the fire. Our kids love adding mushrooms, roasted peppers, onions, tomatoes, and other veggies to make unique grilled cheese masterpieces!

 

Dessert: S’more Healthy S’mores

Who said s’mores had to be unhealthy? You can add a fresh component to this campfire favorite by swapping your Graham crackers for sliced strawberries or bananas, then topping with mini marshmallows and low-sugar dark chocolate. For a pop of protein, add a handful of chopped nuts. If your kids are fans of ooey-gooey deliciousness (who isn’t?), build tin foil boats like you did at breakfast and fill with your favorite dessert toppings. You can roast these over the fire just like roasting marshmallows, and enjoy a delicious, sticky dessert! 

3. Turn Your Backyard Into A State Park

 

Flora & Fauna Scavenger Hunt

For an educational afternoon activity, look up your state’s common wildlife and indigenous plants. Locate these in your own backyard (or hide handmade versions if your backyard isn’t super green), then make a scavenger hunt for your kids to complete. Spend the afternoon identifying these plants, bugs, and birds, and learning fun facts about them! 

 

Summer Olympics

It may be an off year for the Olympics, but that doesn’t have to be the case at your house! Turn your backyard into a sports extravaganza with your favorite summer games, like horseshoes, cornhole, and lawn darts. Do your kids have a competitive streak? Plan a full afternoon of games and competitions, with points for the winners. At the end of the day, decorate each other’s medals and give awards like “Best Concentration Face” and “Most Enthusiasm.” Hold a medal ceremony and celebrate! 

 

Bedtime Storytelling Contest

When it’s time for bed, you can use the day’s activities to inspire a bedtime storytelling contest. Alternatively, you can use familiar fairy tales and swap out the main characters for members of your family or your kids’ friends. Climb into your favorite jammies and take turns telling stories with different categories — scary, funny, mysterious — and vote on the winners.

 

As a mom and business owner living in the Colorado mountains, I have access to tons of great camping and wilderness opportunities.  But my entire life I’ve loved spending time right at home in my backyard: big, small, rural, urban, sandy, grassy, or rocky.   There’s nothing better than grilling out, making a fire, enjoying your garden or native plants, kicking or throwing a ball, a round of quoits or corn hole, and loving whatever makes your home special.   And what excitement for the kids, just to set up a tent in the yard and sleep outside.   Let’s face it, Summer can be short, but sweet, so make the most of it, even if it’s just right outside your doorstep!

Sweet dreams! ~ Nicole

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Sleep Tight: Back to School ~ Back to Bed-Time

The importance of a bedtime routine during the back-to-school transition.

For many kids, all the fun of summer can make it tough to stick to a bedtime routine. Summer camp hours, slumber parties, and more hours of daylight — especially when the sun isn’t all the way down by bedtime — can turn into late nights and grumpy mornings when kids get too little sleep. 

 

Even though we’re still in the height of summer, it’s never too early to start planning for the fall! Kids’ brains and bodies won’t adjust to a school-year sleep routine overnight. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Children who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of experiencing behavioral problems at school, as well as a more difficult time with learning.” As we approach the back-to-school season, it’s important to get kids back into a structured bedtime routine. 

Having trouble turning Z’s into ABC’s? These four tricks will help your family get back to bedtime, just in time for the new school year. 

1. Make it a gradual transition.

If you suddenly had to wake up an hour or two earlier, how long would it take you to get used to the new routine? Kids’ bodies and brains need time to adjust to a school schedule, so it’s not realistic to set an extreme new schedule all at once. Instead, you can slowly move bedtime back by fifteen minutes or half an hour (with an equal adjustment to wake-up time), with a few days in between each shift. By giving your kids time to adjust to the shorter shifts, they’ll have an easier time transitioning to the school-year’s schedule. 

2. Turn bed into an electronics-free zone. 

Clean sleep is the key to healthy rest. Electronics are one of the modern marvels that keep our brains from switching off completely when we go to bed. The glow and blue light from screens sends signals to our brains, telling us it’s still time to be awake. Keeping cell phones and tablets out of your kids beds — by establishing the hour or two before bedtime as “electronics-free” — reduces the impact of this blue light. 

3. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. 

You can replace screen time with book time, or other electronics-free activities you and your kids can do together. Bedtime stories, breathing exercises, and baths are all great ways to help your kids unwind at the end of the day. The comfort of a favorite pair of jammies can also go a long way toward rewiring kids’ brains for bedtime! In the same way that light from electronics can send signals to your mind, the comfort of organic cotton and the routine of slipping into pajamas tells your body it’s time for bed. When you’re planning your bedtime routine, don’t forget to set a similar one for mornings! 

4. Let your kids help set the rules — and stick to them. 

Get your kids involved in bedtime, too! Giving your kids some power over their own choices helps them forget the parts of a new routine that they may not be too fond of. Introducing their first alarm clock? Let them choose the design! Want to make sure they brush their teeth before bed? Let them pick a new flavor of toothpaste! Plus, if your kids have outgrown last fall’s jammies, you can help them choose a new set of PJs with a pattern they can’t wait for bedtime to wear. 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.