With the kids back in school, plenty of us are looking for quick and easy lunches that go beyond a basic sandwich. Here are 5 great lunch ideas to make your life easier:
- Pita Pockets: Add leftover chicken breasts, carrots, bell peppers, and sprouts to a whole grain pita pocket. Use a homemade dill dressing or hummus and serve!
- Quick Tacos: use a soft flour tortilla or a corn tortilla and fill with meat or diced veggies. Keep guacamole and salsa in small containers and let them build their own taco at school, just like taco night!
- Quinoa salads: Full of protein and fiber, this will keep kids feeling full throughout the day. Dice vegetables extra small, or add dried fruit for a sweeter flavor.
- Chili: Make ahead and throw into a thermos for a warm, delicious lunch when the weather starts to cool down. Add organic cheddar cheese to make this school lunch a favorite.
- Mix it up: Swap the peanut butter for almond, cashew or sunbutter, then add sliced berries instead of bananas! Kids will love the new flavors and become creative in their requests for following weeks!
Also remember that you can keep lunches healthy as the days get busier, by:
- Making lunch ahead: Most parents love putting treats like cookies or muffins into their children’s lunches, but often end up having to use processed store-bought varieties. Make muffins, cookies, and homemade granola bars ahead of time on the weekend, double or triple the batch and freeze the extras for weeks to come: your kids will definitely appreciate those homemade goodies!
- Water is the best choice for hydration: many parent believe milk is needed daily for nutrition, but this often leaves kids dehydrated and facing other challenges. In fact a significant number of children have issues with lactose and casein, or related allergies. Instead, make sure your child has a water bottle with them throughout the day; if they don’t like the taste add a little bit of fresh-pressed juice to their water.
- For picky eaters: cut vegetables ¼ the size of what you think they should be; tiny vegetables are less likely to overwhelm a young palette. Use cookie cutters (think the ones you use for gingerbread men, dinosaur or bird shapes) on homemade pizzas or for sandwich bread to make fun shapes; if food is visually appealing they might be more likely to try (and like!) healthier foods.
- Throw in healthy snacks. Smoothies, whole grain crackers with dip, or cut up veggies will help keep them feeling full throughout the day.
- Get the kids involved! Kids will eat what they prepare. Work with you children to select the basics at the grocery store, and get them cutting up vegetables and fruits. This will be a bonus to you later on because kids that get started in the kitchen early on will be making YOU dinner once they’re teenagers!
For more great lunch ideas, check out our cookbook, Love Your Body Lunchbox, the perfect back-to-school gift!