It is that time of year, clothes get ironed the night before (If your super mom/dad) backpacks line the hallway (Ha! Right! More like scattered across the kitchen table and couch) and your child is so excited about their school lunch you loving packed while singing You’ve got a friend in me by Randy Newman. (Or Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne)
The older your kids get the easier school lunches become. You can delegate responsibility of packing you’re your own lunch and if you go hungry that’s on you. But if you’re a Mama Bear like me, you still worry if they packed enough protein and too much sugar, you throw in an extra baggie of baby carrots and a protein bar with high hopes they eat is vs throwing it away.
I follow a lot of mom groups on Facebook and one of the main thing these groups have in common is that Moms are still trying to find a school lunch their kids will be happy with. Moms/Dads get tired of making the same basic PBJ or Turkey Sandwich, bag of chips, piece of fruit and maybe a cookie. How can we make school lunches nutritious and fun?
I am supposed to follow a gluten free diet and now my daughter is encouraged to do the same for health reasons, so grocery shopping and school lunches have immediately graduated to a new level of “fun”. Here are a few of my kids approved lunches to change up the weekly routine.
Protein: Meat roll ups. I like to take Turkey, Ham and Large Pepperoni slices and roll them with Mozzarella or Provolone Cheese. For the kids that like peppers add some banana peppers to give it an Italian Club feel. Costco has grilled chicken bites. (Yes it’s prepackaged) They actually taste rather good. Grab some Romaine or Bib lettuce and create chicken boats. Top with grated cheese, shredded carrots and sliced/diced cucumber. Dip in ranch, hummus or tzatziki sauce. Pasta Salad with Red lentil pasta! The pasta has a mild flavor and most kids don’t know they are eating veggies. Plus it is rich in protein. Add your fresh veggies, cheese cubes and any meat. Put a small container of their favorite dressing to drizzle over when they sit down for lunch.
Fruit: I hate how bananas and apples turn brown in lunches. I feel they end up getting wasted vs eaten. Berries! Rich in antioxidants and they keep in the lunchbox pretty well. You can also include a vanilla or honey Greek yogurt to dip or mix in with the fruit. Noosa is one of my favorite brands. It is high in sugar so moderation is key. Another kid favorite is frozen peaches. They will stay cold and thaw my lunch time.
Veggies: I have been blessed with the fact that both of my kids will eat raw veggies. Sugar snap peas, carrots, mini bell peppers, mini cucumbers tend to go over really well. My son will eat them plain but my daughter loves to dip in hummus or guacamole. You can find both hummus and guacamole in bulk individual serving sizes at Costco.
Snack Items: I love making my own trail mix. I fill a baggie with dried apples, cranberries/raisins/yogurt or dark chocolate covered, cashews, almonds, dried coconut (not the bakers kind, it is found in the nuts/salad toppings around the produce section) pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Sometimes I will add a few mini pretzels twists. You can make energy bars as well with oats, dates, almond butter and a scoop of protein powder. (Pinterest has a lot of ideas) Or you can keep life simple and buy some Cliff bars (that’s what I do). If you want to be all Betty Homemaker take a shot at making your own fruit snacks or fruit rollups. That’s not my thing by any stretch of imagination. I love the Target brand dried fruit strips.
Water!! Fill those water bottles and add freshly sliced lemons, limes and oranges.
I hope this can give you all a few new ideas to make school lunches a bit less complicated. It’s not real profound but sometimes we just need to bounce some new ideas off of each other. Don’t hesitate in sending me your suggestions! Kelsey@gfarmsonline.com