It’s back to school season and school will be resuming soon. With this comes the concern with the lunchbox of children: We need to think about healthy snacks, attractive to the little ones, avoiding the sameness and very caloric options, making harmonic, practical, fast and nutritious combinations. If you’re thinking about the same sandwich you did for your kid during the holiday or last school session, it’s time to give school lunch a healthy (and seriously tasty) boost. Use these ideas to transform the next month’s worth of packed lunch boxes.
What can not miss in your child’s lunch box?
First, consider the time your child studies (morning or afternoon) and the meal he or she had before school (breakfast or lunch). Then make sure you are packing a product from each food group into the lunchbox : A source of protein or milk (milk, yoghurt, cheese), a fresh fruit or vegetable (from sources of vitamins, fibre and minerals) and one carbohydrate to provide energy (pieces of bread and cereals), plus 1 hydrate drink (water, coconut water or natural juice).
Healthy School Lunches for Kids and Teens
1. Wrap Up Leftovers
Turn whatever protein you had the previous night into a novel filling for a rolled-up sandwich: turkey, chicken, pork, beef, tofu, seitan. Take whatever you have leftover, add some leafy greens, shredded veggies, and a touch of your child’s fave sandwich spread, then roll it all up in a multigrain wrap or tortilla.
2. Pack Some Patties
Dippable veggie patties — think potato pancakes made with whatever produce you have on hand — are portable, yummy ways to think outside the sandwich. Get creative with your sauce sides: Plain yoghurt makes a great base for spice or even bottled dressing mix-ins.
3. Make a Clever Salad as Healthy School Lunches
Add crumbled cooked bacon and sliced eggs to a basic lettuce salad; throw a couple of falafel balls on some spinach; add chicken and cheddar cubes to some spring greens. Keep whatever dressing you know your kid will dig in a small reusable container so he can pour it on at lunch — and don’t forget toppings like seeds, whole-wheat croutons, and dried fruit.
4. Don’t Be Afraid of Bento!
If you subscribe to parenting magazines or spend any time on Pinterest, you’ve likely seen some of the incredibly cutesy health school lunch some ultra-crafty parents pack for their kids in bento boxes, the Japanese lunch cases that contain tiny compartments for holding mini-portions of food.
You certainly can get creative with how you present small bites of protein, veggies, and carbs (look at this series of posts by Meet the Dubiens for inspiration), but just about anything your kid likes to eat can fit into these segmented lunchboxes — no cookie cutters required.
5. Make a DIY Lunchable
This is similar in concept to a bento box, but has a very basic twist: Consider whichever pre-made lunch pack you know your child goes gaga for, then just try to up the health quotient of it. Use better quality deli meats (or slices from last night’s dinner), whole-milk cheese (not cheese “product”) and freshly cut fruit. Keep the sweet similar but just a tad healthier — you want your kid to eat the whole meal, after all.
6. Juice it Up
If you know carrot sticks and broccoli crowns will get dumped into the trash, consider packing your child a vegetable-based drink that’s blended with fruit for sweetness.
7. Choose Smarter Chips
If your kid looks forward to a salty crunch at lunch, pack him sweet potato chips (or another root veggie) and opt for baked chips when possible.
8. Go Nuts (If You Can)
Walnuts and almonds, especially, contain omega-3 fatty acids, making them superfoods for your growing child. Just a handful a day is a health boost. (But check what your school’s tree nut policy is, first: Many districts restrict them from lunches due to growing allergy concerns.)
If you know any other healthy school lunch ideas for kids and teens, kindly share with us using the comment section below.