Well, hello September and back to school season!
We all know that it’s important to give our kids the best nutrition for the best start in life and school. However, when it comes down to it, many of us are faced with a stressful household in the morning – trying to get everyone ready and out the door on time. Under pressure and not having any other ideas, many of us resort to making a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich and throwing in a few snacks and a juice box into the lunchbox.
Here are some different ideas beyond the PB&J sandwich for healthy lunch boxes that will help you get the best nutrition for your kids. Children need a healthy balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates as well as key vitamins and minerals in their lunch in order to sustain their energy and blood sugar levels for several hours. Try putting combinations of these meals in your kids’ lunches. They are all simple, easy to prepare and many of them can be made ahead or in larger quantities to last over several days. The lunch kebabs are my favorite!
- Lunch kebabs: add grapes, cooked turkey or chicken cubes, cheese, cherry tomatoes, melon, apple or red pepper onto a short kebab stick. You can even make different shapes if you have the time. Mix up different flavors every day. You can even add in a little bread to make a “sandwich on a stick”!
- Kale chips: you’d be surprised by how much kids love the crunchiness!
- Veggies sticks and hummus try red pepper, carrot, cucumber, celery
- Wraps: kids love to eat turkey, cheese, hummus or nut butter wraps. Add in sticks of cucumber or red pepper for extra crunch and nutrients. After you roll it up, cut up the wrap on an angle into 2 inch long pieces.
- Pasta salad: whole grain pasta (try a fun shape) with tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. You can also add in some tuna, pesto or cooked chicken into the pasta
- Muffin frittatas with vegetables and cheese
- Whole grain bread with different nut butters such as almond or sunflower nut butters. If you have the time, you can be creative with different shapes such as butterflies or dinosaurs
- Rice lunch bowl: brown rice topped with cooked chicken and veggies such as peas, peppers, tomatoes
- Fruit cup: mix up seasonal fruit such as grapes, blueberries, kiwi, melon, strawberries, apples, bananas, peaches and plums together
- Greek yogurt with a teaspoon of honey and fresh fruit
- Soup (stored in a thermos) such as chicken, lentil, bean or vegetable soup
- Hard boiled eggs
Tip: Remember to keep your child’s lunchbox clean. Don’t forget to wash all fruits and vegetables before serving. If your child doesn’t have access to a fridge at school, pack the lunch in an insulated lunch bag and use freezable gel packs to keep food cool until lunch time.
What are your kids’ favorite lunches? Do you make anything unusual or interesting for your kids?