Can someone please tell me how it’s already the end of August? I feel like I blinked and summer passed by (although I am not sad about it because summer in South Florida is NO joke). Anyways, summer ending means school starting, and this also means getting back into a new schedule. I know summer is a time everyone is relaxing and at BBQ’s and then when school starts it’s back to pick up, drop off, after school activities, practices etc. So to make things even the bit easier for you, I wanted to share some healthy back to school lunches.
Yes, it matters what you put in your kids lunches. Because the habits you start teaching them now are the habits they are going to forever use as they grow up. So the more processed food you feed them, the more they are going to crave it and eat it as they get older. People tell me all the time how their kids are picky eaters…listen, you made them that way! If you never fed your kid chicken nuggets the first time, they wouldn’t even know what they are! Now I know everyone isn’t perfect and sometimes we need pizza night, but what you send to school for your kid to eat could be the difference between childhood obesity over the years, or even ADHD. Yes, food plays a role in BOTH of these.
But let’s not forget mom and dad. Making kids lunches and sending them off to school probably means you don’t have time for breakfast and then you can’t prep lunch so it’s McDonalds again for you. Well that also is not helping the situation. So here are some healthy back to school lunches for kids and parents, and let’s make them quick and easy!
Back-to-School Lunches for Kids
I suggest getting a lunch box with compartments. That way you can visually see everything that is in it and you can re-use it rather than throwing away a million plastic baggies and containers! A few great ones are DaCool, Bentgo, Bento, or just Amazon them. Here are also some accessories – things like silicone cups, ice packs, stacking blocks, sandwich cutters.
• CARB: Crackers (Simple Mills are a great brand) just check ingredients – you should always be able to know everything in them.
• PROTEIN: Meat – ham/turkey/pepperoni/salami
• FAT: Cheese – Cheddar/Swiss/Provolone etc
• VEGGIE: sliced peppers or cucumbers
• FRUIT: grapes/raspberries/blueberries
Put it all into the lunch box and let your kiddo make themselves little stackers!
• CARB: Tortilla (I love siete, but any brand would work) and tortilla chips (made with good oils, not these crappy oils)
• FAT: Cheese- shredded works best
• PROTEIN: beef stick (just chop up a few pieces, could likely use 1 stick for 2 days)
• VEGGIE: guacamole and salsa
• FRUIT: strawberries
Make the quesadilla and cut it into triangles. Then give them some chips and they can dip both in their guacamole and salsa!
Turkey Roll up
• CARB: Tortilla
• FAT: Cheese (any kind of sliced cheese)
• PROTEIN: Ham or Turkey
• VEGGIE: Carrots/Celery and Ranch
• FRUIT: Yogurt (just check sugar content, don’t want too much)
Take your tortilla, layer on the cheese and meat and roll it up! Leave it that way or you can cut it in half and stick a toothpick in it to keep it rolled!
Traditional Sandwich lunch
• CARB: Bread (I would go with something whole grain and not white)
• FAT: Nut Butter (a lot of kids have peanut allergies, so you could use an almond butter or sunflower butter)
• PROTEIN: Cottage cheese
• VEGGIE: Squeeze pack (great option for kids because they are fun to eat and full of nutrients, make sure it’s a good brand and they are NOT expired)
• FRUIT: Apple slices
• Extras: Trail Mix (dried fruit, chocolate chips, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds)
Just make the sandwich (and yes, add some jelly) and throw it all together.
• CARB: Pita bread (use this as the “crust” and cut it into triangles)
• FAT: Cheese (shredded cheese is ideal)
• PROTEIN: Chicken sausage or Ham (cut into pieces)
• VEGGIE: Snap peas and carrots with Hummus
•FRUIT: Watermelon chunks
Make this so the kids can create their own lunches!
• CARB: Pretzel chips
• FAT: String cheese or cheese chunk
s. Could also be some chunks of a snack bar.
• PROTEIN: Hard boiled eggs
• VEGGIE: broccoli/peppers/cucumbers with ranch
• FRUIT: berries and melon
Breakfast for Lunch
• CARB: 1 banana pancake (recipe here) with a little side of syrup
• FAT: Eggs
• PROTEIN: Turkey slices
• VEGGIE: Peppers and onions in the cups
• FRUIT: Clementines
Pre-heat the oven to 375. Dice up bell pepper and onion. Whisk eggs and add in peppers, onions and cheese. Pour into cupcake tins and cook for 20 minutes. Add 2 of these into their lunch with some pancake squares, turkey slices and clementines!
Meat and Cheese Kabobs
• CARB: Sea salt popcorn (love Boom Chicka Pop or Lesser Evil)
• FAT: cheese squares and handful of nuts
• PROTEIN: all beef hot dogs or different choices of meat
• VEGGIE: veggie pouch
• FRUIT: berries and yogurt parfait
Just use some skewers or tooth picks to make little kabobs!
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Parents
I feel like all of you are capable of coming up with sides for these dishes! Just remember you want carb, fat, protein and veggie for each meal! So whatever isn’t in the main dish you will want to add in as sides!
• 1 can tuna (protein)
• 2 tbsp mayo (I use primal kitchens avocado mayo) (fat)
• 1 stalk celery, chopped
• squeeze of lemon juice
• salt and pepper to taste
1.Mix it all up and eat with crackers or on whole grain bread for a sandwich! Your vehicle here is your carb (unless you used cucumbers or celery).
• 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced (protein)
• 1/2 avocado (fat)
• 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
• 1/4 cup chopped green onion
• Salt and pepper to taste
1.Boil eggs for 15 minutes, then place in an ice bath for 10 minutes.
2.Mash avocado and mustard together.
3.Add in chopped eggs, onion and salt/pepper in and mix together.
5.Put on toast for an open face lunch or grab some crackers for scooping!
• 4oz shredded chicken (or diced) (protein)
• 1 tbsp avocado mayo and 1/4 avocado (fat)
• Spinach, shredded
• 5 Banana peppers, sliced
• 1tbsp sunflower seeds
• Salt, pepper and onion powder to taste
1.Mix it all together and use crackers or whole grain bread to make sandwich!
• Tortilla (I use siete, usually the Almond Flour kind) (carb)
• 2oz Turkey (usually about 2-3 slices) (protein)
• 1/2 tomato, sliced
• 1/2 avocado (fat)
• Handful of spinach
• Cheese (I use dairy free, no favorite brand currently)
1.Put it all on the wrap, roll it up and you’re good to go! I typically make 2-3 of these!
• 4oz meat (chicken, ground beef, ground turkey etc) (protein)
• 1.5 cups diced sweet potato (roast in the oven at 400 for 30-40 minutes) (carb)
• 1 cup roasted veggie of choice (I usually use brussel sprouts or broccoli)
• 1/2tbsp olive oil, drizzled over the top
• 2 tbsp coconut aminos
1.Throw it all in a bowl and mix it up! Great way to get all your macronutrients in without over complicating things!
Chicken and Rice Patties
• 3 cups cooked jasmine rice (1 cup uncooked)
• 1 chicken breast
• 1/2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 large carrot, shredded
• 3 green onions, chopped
• 1 1/3 cups shredded cheese
• 3 eggs
1.Preheat oven to 400
2. Cook chicken breast on stovetop and then take two forks and shred.
3. In a large bowl add cooked rice, chicken, carrot, onion, eggs and 3/4’s of the cheese.
5. Spray muffin trays with cooking spray and spoon mixture into cups – top with remaining cheese.
6. Cook for 15 minutes of until tops turn golden brown! Makes 12 cups.
Anything you want to throw together to have more of a snacky, lighter lunch rather than a full meal.
• Carb options: crackers, pretels, fruit,
• Fat Options: nuts, seeds, nut butter, cheese
• Protein options: hard boiled eggs, meat, cottage cheese, yogurt
Then add in maybe some veggies and hummus, fruit parfait, or even celery and almond butter!
• 1lb ground beef (protein and fat)
• 1 can diced tomatoes
• 3 bell peppers – cut tops off, take seeds out and cut in half to make boats
• 1/4 cup diced red onion
• 5-6 basil leaves (fresh is ideal)
• Salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano to taste
• 1/2 cup cheese
• 1 cup rice, cooked (carbs)
1.Preheat oven to 400.
2. Place peppers on cooking sheet for 10-15 minutes.
3. Brown meat in a skillet and add in tomatoes, onion, basil and seasonings.
4. Take peppers out and fill with meat mixture. Top with cheese and put back into oven. Bake for 10-15 minute minutes, then broil for 2-3 more.
5. Cook rice on stove top.
6. Plate rice and top with your peppers! I usually eat 1 whole better (two halves) in a sitting.
Tips for School Lunches
Let’s not forget the main parts of a meal…carb, fat, protein, veggie (and fruit for kiddos). These main macronutrients need to be in every meal to stabilize blood sugar and keep us full! Otherwise we end up grazing halfway through the afternoon.
For kids you want to think finger foods that are easy. Don’t over complicate it. And don’t forget that kids are going to get sick of foods quicker than you will so make sure there are options. I think a great idea is letting kids make their own lunch. Almost like each week you have a few options of each and the kids pick from the menu. That way you know they will eat what you put in there (and make sure there is no pizza, cookies, chips on the list). I promise you that your kid will eat what you send, they aren’t going to starve to death. And if they decide they don’t like the food, sooner or later they will suck it up and eat it.
A great way to make it fun is using things like skewers, cut-outs, DIY foods. Kids get bored, we know that, so just by taking 3 seconds to make the sandwich into a shape could actually be the difference between your kid actually eating their lunch!
If your kids are newly going to school on a schedule, make sure you practice lunch time. A lot of kids eat incredibly slow at home, but at school they have a time constraint. So make sure you practice this time and home and take their food when time is up. It will teach them to eat quick so they don’t come home with half their lunch still packed and starving!
And a major habit I think needs to stop is DESSERT. Your kids don’t need cookies or candy with every lunch. That just teaches them it is normal to constantly have a treat after they eat. So by not packing anything, they learn that dessert isn’t meant to be a part of every single meal every day! And this goes for you too, parents…keep your hand out of the candy dish! The more you eat sugar, the more your mind craves it and thinks it’s coming. So break the cycle!
Alright, this should give you some great ideas for awhile! Feel free to comment any of your favorites or head over to my Facebook Page to share yours. Always great to see what other moms/working ladies are eating and what works for them!