Integrative Nutrition Blog
5 Extremely Creative Ideas for Healthy School Lunches
It’s no secret that little ones can be the pickiest eaters. Their limited preferences coupled with the restrictions on certain ingredients in some classrooms (like gluten or nuts) can make it difficult to provide your child with a healthy, well-balanced lunch. This is why we’ve rounded up some easy, fast, and fun solutions for lunchtime by talking to the people who know kids best: moms!
Box it Up
Moms are raving about kid-friendly bento boxes, like the ones by Yumbox. The leak-free containers offer separate compartments that can hold a variety of foods. Although the boxes may be on the more expensive side, buying non-processed ingredients in bulk and reusing these containers will save money in the long term. Suggestions for foods to pack in a bento box include:
- Plain yogurt, sweetened with honey and fresh fruit for dipping
- Carrots and hummus
- Applesauce with a sprinkle of cinnamon
- A small apple with peanut or almond butter (if allowed in the classroom)
- A frozen yogurt squeezer
One mom’s tip: “If I want to put small bites of something [like a couple of chocolate chips for dessert] put a reusable/silicone muffin pan liner in one of the bigger compartments to hold it.”
Variations on a Theme
Getting the kids involved in making themed lunches is one way to instill mindfulness around eating and get them excited about their meal to come. For example, an “ocean” theme could include a tuna fish sandwich, maybe even cut into the shape of a fish with a cookie cutter; organic fruit-leather “kelp” and “octopus” string cheese.
Have kids participate in creating seasonal snacks for their lunches—for example, roast pumpkin seeds with various flavors, like chipotle and maple syrup or cinnamon and sugar (click here for some recipes to try). Teach them out to combine their favorite nuts and seeds with dried fruits for a DIY trail mix to snack on.
Sand-wish You Thought of This
Sandwiches on whole-wheat bread are an easy fallback, but it’s important to think outside the bread! Make a banana, honey, and peanut or almond butter (if allowed) sandwich by slicing a non-ripe banana lengthwise and using it as the “bread.” Turkey rollups (turkey and cheese rolled into a wrap) are also an easy way to give your kids a protein-packed snack. Similarly, you can use lettuce wraps for egg salad, tuna salad, or hummus as a fun way for kids to “play” with their food while getting a nutritious meal.
Stick it To ‘Em
Many moms enjoy making creative kebabs for their kids’ meals. Grill chicken and cut into cubes, then make kebobs with chicken, cheese and veggies on a stick. You can also get creative and make fruit rainbow kebabs with strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, green grapes or piece of green apple, blueberries, and a purple grape.
Looking for more ideas? Several moms swear by this blog, which offers many more meal ideas.
What are some of your kid-friendly lunch ideas? Share in the comments below.