how to make homemade juice boxes
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Ah, back-to-school time. As much as I harbor nostalgia for the store-bought, 100 percent artificial-everywhere-don’t-care juice boxes of my youth (anyone here remember Hi-C’s limited release Ecto Cooler?), I recognize that they’re not the healthiest lunch box choice for the future leaders of tomorrow.

Fortunately, these days, if you want to take control of your children’s juice box options, all you need are the right vessels and a little bit of creativity in the kitchen. As far as the former is concerned, sure, you could recycle and reuse some old water bottles for your DIY juice boxes. Or, if you want to get a little more “high-tech” with it, you can turn to newer innovations in reusable juice box ware, like Drink In The Box containers or these multi-use pouches. As for the health-minded homemade juice alternatives to fill them with, here are seven healthy drink recipes to try.

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1. Coconut Water Lemonade

Naturally high in good-for-you things like electrolytes, potassium, calcium, magnesium, amino acids, and antioxidants (and low in calories), coconut water is a no-brainer replacement for the standard juice box. Tasty as coconut water is on its own, guaranteed no kid is going to complain about about this jazzed up lemonade variation. They taste tropical lemonade, you taste the sweet satisfaction of knowing they’re getting vitamins and nutrients. Get the Coconut Water Lemonade recipe.

2. Watermelon and Mint Water

The solution for the kid who turns their nose up at plain old water? Easy: Fruit-infused water. Think of it as fruit juice “light,” delivering genuine flavor without the artificial, sugar-laden sweetness. Plus you can include the pieces of fruit in the juice box as a kind of bonus snack. The concept has endless, customizable possibilitiesfruit medleys, fruit and herb combos, etc.but we’re particularly partial to this classic watermelon and mint duo. Get the Watermelon and Mint Water recipe.

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3. Orange Twist Sports Drink

Help your little one save some of their hard-earned allowance money at the vending machine with this DIY sports drink. For this rendition, all you need is water, fresh juice, sea salt, raw honey, and concentrated mineral drops, and poof, your kid is ready to crush it on the field or court (or both). Get the Orange Twist Sports Drink recipe.

Related Reading: The Best Reusable Straws for Eco-Friendly Sipping

4. Sugar Free Strawberry Soda

Fend off those soda cravings with this easy homemade soda alternative. This sparkling juice is all-natural and sugar-free (well, at least free of artificial sugar) and completely customizable to your kids’ tastes. Strawberry soda is just one of many delicious, can’t-get-it-from-a-soda-fountain options you can make. Maybe next week it’s blueberry or pineapple or mango-peach? Get the Sugar Free Strawberry Soda recipe.

5. Kiwi Soda

Kiwi Soda recipe

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Or kiwi! Our easy homemade kiwi soda combines the fuzzy little fruit with lime juice, agave nectar, and seltzer for the necessary fizz. Strain it after blending if your kids will be put off by the seeds. Get our Kiwi Soda recipe.

6. Tangerine-Raspberry Iced Tea

It might be a bit of a leap for most kids to love the bold and herbaceous flavors of green or black tea (not to mention the potentially undesirable levels of caffeine they contain), but fruit-flavored herbal tea? Now there’s a great, health-conscious juice box replacement option. This recipe cleverly combines tangerine and raspberry-flavored teas to create an easy-to-love lunch box staple. Get the Tangerine-Raspberry Iced Tea recipe.

7. Homemade Yogurt Drinks

Getting enough calcium into your children’s’ diet is always a top priority, and something that the juice box you’ve been adding to the daily balanced lunch just doesn’t help with. So here’s a thought: Trade the juice for a homemade yogurt drink made with real fruit. Get the Homemade Yogurt Drinks recipe.

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Header image courtesy of Precidio Design/Amazon.

Maryse Chevriere is a certified sommelier, James Beard Award winner for @freshcutgardenhose, and author of "Grasping the Grape," a no-nonsense but really fun guide to wine.
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