I’m not going to lie, some days I really struggle with school lunches. And right now, my kiddos seem to be in a picky stage. If they had their way they would get Lunchables, candy and juice everyday. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Their teachers will thank me for that helping of processed food topped with a solid dose of sugar, don’t you think?
But I don’t cave in, despite my struggles. Instead, I send them with a vegetable, a fruit and an entrée that usually consists of a whole grain and some protein. To make life easier, I do buy food that is easy to grab and throw in a container and toss in a lunch box. For instance, baby carrots, snap peas, berries, apples, and oranges.
Somedays, I want to mix things up a bit and send hot food to school with my kiddos. For that, my go-to, non-food item is an insulated food jar like a Thermos. It makes it easy to send a hot meal. My son often prefers a hot meal. He’s just not a huge fan of sandwiches. (Oh, and a quick tip: A few minutes before you put the hot food in the insulated food jar, fill it with hot water and let it sit. It helps hold the heat longer.)
Healthy Lunch Suggestions
To make it easier on you, I created this list of some of my favorite, and relatively easy lunch foods. (Pick one from each category):
- Baby carrots
- Snap peas
- Sliced cucumbers
- Cherry tomatoes (I know, I know, tomatoes are a technically a fruit)
- Celery sticks
- Broccoli or cauliflower florets
- Pre-cut melon
- Lunch meat (nitrate/nitrite free), cheese and whole grain crackers (It’s pretty easy to make your own healthy Lunchable!)
- Sandwiches with whole grain bread and nitrate/nitrite free meat, PB and J, or your kid’s favorite fixings.
- Wraps with a whole grain tortilla
- Spring rolls
I know. Eating healthy takes a bit longer than grabbing pre-packaged food, but in the end, your kiddos are worth that little bit of extra love. But just to help out, here are some tips to stay sane while doing it.
Easy Food Prep Tips:
- Prep fruit and veggies for the week, or at least a few days ahead of time, and place in containers or bags.
- Buy pre-cut fruit and veggies.
- If your kids like to dip veggies in ranch or hummus, go for it. I’d rather they get veggies in on a regular basis than worry about ranch or another dip. I do recommend you find a healthier version of ranch if possible. Look for the fewest ingredients and ones that you can pronounce. Avoid added sugar and MSG. Costco has mini cups of hummus and guacamole. My kids love these as a dip and they are perfect to grab and throw in the lunchbox.