School Lunches- Healthy Food Ideas Your Kids Will Actually Eat
School is in full swing again and providing healthy school lunches for our kids can be a real struggle for many parents. Between picky eaters and real foods that don’t keep well, it can be a daunting and frustrating task trying to provide our kids with a nutritious meal. Below are some ideas to get you kick-started to help your kiddos go through the school day fully fueled and well nourished.
Food on sticks- making food fun can automatically give it more appeal. You can put just about anything on sticks, from your protein source (rolled up meats and cheeses, meatballs, chicken skewers), to fruits and veggies (strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.) Or take a pickle and wrap meat and cheese around it and seal with a toothpick. The possibilities are endless.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Apples– If peanuts are a problem, use almond butter or cashew butter instead. If nuts are a problem in general then you can make meat and cheese apple sandwiches instead. Look how dang adorable these are! https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a57151/pbj-apples-recipe/
Pizza- Lots of different variations available for this. Zucchini pizza boats, mini pepper pizzas or use a cauliflower crust or one of the whole grain crusts now available at your local health food market (there are paleo crusts, gluten free crusts, etc.) Use loads of veggies as the toppings, or as the base, depending on which option you choose. Eat for dinner and pack the rest for lunch.
Salad– While a salad made out of lettuce can be a hard sell to a kid, no one said it has to be a lettuce salad. A fresh and light combo of different fresh fruits (strawberries, grapes, pineapple, etc.) tossed together with some cooked quinoa or a side of cottage cheese and a delicious balsamic dressing can do the trick. This would be a good recipe to start with- Fruit Salad. Or a cold pasta salad made with lots and lots of veggies and a sprinkle of healthy pasta (think brown rice, quinoa or black bean pasta) can be a great portable lunch that doesn’t take too long to consume. This is a good recipe to start with, just make your own olive oil and vinegar dressing for the topping and use the healthy pasta instead of what the recipe calls for https://www.cookingclassy.com/pasta-salad/
Burrito Bowls – cook some brown rice, a protein, throw in some salsa, veggies and any other toppings they might like (guacamole, black beans, kidney beans, etc.) You can meal prep these on Sunday night and have enough to get through the whole week.
Bento Boxes– the colorfulness/playfulness of these can be appealing to kids and the combinations possible make it easy to adjust what’s inside to accommodate a picky eater. Some ideas include nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews), fruits and veggies like blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, orange slices, apple slices, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, etc., and protein sources like hard-boiled eggs or diced chicken breast to name a few.
Of course, the biggest thing of all is to talk to your child and know what they truly will and won’t eat while at school and build their lunch from there. I can’t tell you how many times as a kid I traded my super healthy lunch with my friend for her overly processed lunch because I didn’t like anything my mom packed. Geez, what a brat. I hope with some of these ideas you can avoid that happening to you!