Back to school is right around the corner and that means back to packing lunches for the kiddos. If the thought of packing lunches makes you want to lock yourself in a closet – don’t worry! We’ve got some lunchbox inspiration that will make you jump for joy. Along with new shoes and a backpack, start this year off with some new ideas for quick, healthy lunches.
Firstly, the key is planning!
- Always have food staples on hand. Take inventory of fruits and veggies that your kiddos will eat and make them a part of your weekly shopping list. Chop and prepare so that they’re ready when you need them.
- When favorite lunchbox items go on sale, be sure to stock-up. Buy non-perishable items in bulk so that the pantry is always full of lunchbox fillers.
- Base weekly lunch menus off what you will be cooking for dinner. Fajitas or grilled chicken for dinner? Make extra to send for lunches. Most kids enjoy changing it up, so try different brands or even try cutting up fruits and veggies in a new way.
- Invest in some small reusable containers to bring dipping sauces, yogurt, hummus, guacamole etc.
- Pack the night before while you are cleaning up dinner… don’t wait until the morning!
For some delicious and healthy recipes, try these ideas!
- Smoothie slushy – Freeze smoothies in ice cube trays and send in a reusable container. By lunchtime they are a yummy slushy. Try adding frozen chunks of beets or some spinach in the smoothie for an extra nutrition boost.
- Fruit packs – Puree fresh fruit in a blender and freeze in mini-muffin tins or ice cube trays. Send in a reusable container and enjoy as a sorbet by lunch time.
- Mini Bean-and-Cheese Quesadilla – Fold ½ cup black beans, 1 tablespoon salsa and 1 slice cheddar cheese in a small, soft tortilla. Heat in pan until cheese is melted and tortilla is lightly browned. You can make these in bulk and freeze, too.
- Deli Rollup – Top 2 slices of no nitrate deli meat (turkey, chicken, or roast beef work great!) with a slice of cheese, a slice of tomato and some lettuce.
- Nut Butter Boat – Load a few celery sticks with 1 tablespoon of any nut butter topped with a few whole almonds or raisins. Also try scooping out the middle of an apple and fill it with a nut buttery surprise.
- Greek Berry Parfait – Top ½ cup plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup fresh berries and 1 tablespoon sliced almonds.
- Grape-and-Cheese Sticks -Stack cheese cubes and grapes on toothpicks.
- Silver Dollar Protein Pancakes – Mix 4 eggs, ½ cup of rolled oats, ½ cup of low-fat cottage cheese, ⅛ teaspoon of baking powder, and ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Cook on a preheated griddle (medium low heat) until mixtures bubbles, flip and cook for another 60 seconds.
Simple is good too:
- Make a whole loaf of P&J sandwiches. Put cashew/almond/peanut butter on both sides of the bread to prevent sogginess and freeze. Take out the night before.
- Hummus and veggies
- Beef or turkey jerky (make sure it’s the natural kind with no nitrates!)
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Chips or veggies with guacamole
- Trail mix – include some pumpkin seeds, almonds and walnuts which are all nutrition powerhouses!
by Jodi Fetchel, Wellness Consultant at Peoples North