Children can begin good eating habits at home, starting with school lunches. Simple changes like using whole grain bread and adding fruits and nuts are healthier alternatives. (Photo by Shutterstock)
Don’t lose your mind over school lunches, there’s an easy way with these healthy and simple school lunch ideas.
By Fernanda Beccaglia, from Voxxi
Summer is “unofficially” over and it is school time again, at least until the holidays.
Kids getting back on a regular schedule might come as a relief for many parents. For others it represents going back to a regular schedule too and an extra stretch on how to get organized especially when it comes to school lunch boxes.
Fact is, pleasing your kids while making sure they receive the proper nutrition, can be a bit challenging and stressful. And that is the last thing you want to deal with in the morning. Kids can either be the healthy-picky eater type; the fast food, sugar kind; or the one that eats anything and everything without any complaints. So here are some tips and ideas to make your life easier.
- Have a list handy of the things your kids like and always have some of them ready in your pantry.
- Don’t prepare anything complicated. Keep the lunch ideas as fresh and as simple as possible.
- Pack, pack, and pack everything ahead of time. The last thing you want to do in the morning is figure out what you are going to prepare or give the kids to take to school.
- Make sure you pack in containers you won’t mind to lose if they forget to bring them back home or lose them.
- Mix textures, flavors, shapes and colors. Kids are very visual and they like change.
- Keep it fun and alive adding some vegetables here and there.
- Always keep their choices diverse.
- Use any leftover rice, quinoa or pasta.
- Keep portions and bites small.
Quick, easy bites and munchies to add
- Crackers and pretzels either whole wheat or gluten free make a great crunchy option
- Granola bars, nuts, walnuts, almonds (no nuts, in case the school has a nut allergy policy)
- Fruits like bananas, apples, pears, grapes
- Raisins and dates (pitted)
- Honey, almond butter or yogurt sticks
- Cheese sticks
- Individual cereal boxes
Three simple school lunch ideas
For a power lunch, sandwich or snack, use peanut, almond or cashew butter. (Photo Shutterstock)
1. Beyond the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Well, not really. My version—kids tested and approved—is more loaded with more nutritional value than the regular PB&J.
For that, use raw, or good quality, almond butter instead of peanut and strawberry jam instead of jelly.
Use whole grain bread or whole wheat instead or regular white, and sprinkle some chia seeds on top of the almond butter before spreading the jam on top. Make the sandwich and cut in four for easy handling.
Another option or twist for this classic is to use Nutella instead of peanut butter. You could add a thin layer of cream cheese on top and a banana on the side to complement flavors.
2. Tomato, baba ganoush and mozzarella sandwich
Tomatoes can be either loved or hated by both kids and adults.
But if your little ones like tomatoes, this is a healthy and super easy to make lunch.
Simply slice the tomato and pack it along some fresh mozzarella the night before, but don’t make the sandwich until the next day or the bread will lose its freshness. Also refrain from seasoning the tomato with salt or it’ll lose its texture and juices.
If your kids like fresh basil, add a few fresh leaves between the tomato and cheese slices. Any green you can add to their bites will do wonders for their well-being and health.
Choices of bread and spreads: You can either make a sandwich with rustic bread, soft whole grains or a wrap.
Assembling: Spread some baba ganoush or hummus on the bread, place a slice of tomato on top and add some mozzarella. Then seal and slice for easier handling.
3. Potato, egg, tuna salad
If your kids like potato salad, try adding a heartier touch to it using red grapes, walnuts, some small pieces of celery, perhaps some carrots and sweet peas, and a touch of sour cream or cream cheese.
Just cook the baby red potatoes, let them cool. Cut them in pieces and mix them well in a bowl with mayonnaise. Add some sliced grapes and walnuts. Season to taste.
You can also add some tuna to it, or if you want something more nutritionally complex, make an egg potato tuna salad.