With September quickly approaching, many of you fellow parents start thinking about how to plan the hectic back-to-school weeks before you settle into your new routine.
Let me offer some help for all of you Moms and Dads who need some inspiration with healthy meal ideas to pack in your child's lunch box. As a mother of two adult boys, I still remember how I felt when my nutritious foods were brought back almost untouched after school. It took me some time to come up with creative meal ideas which were successful (at least, most of the time!).
In this post, I would like to share a few tips that worked for me and offer the free Nutritious School Lunch Recipes booklet to you with helpful meal and snack ideas. The recipes within this booklet will provide your child with energy throughout the school day, enhance concentration and strengthen his/her immune system.
You can access your free recipe booklet here.
To save time, I used dinner leftovers as often as I could. I reheated meals such as soups, stews, chili, and stir-fries in the morning and packed them in a thermos. This type of lunch can be ideal for ever-hungry pre-teens and teenagers who require not only nutrients, but calorie-dense meals to keep up with their active lifestyle. The following recipes can be served for a family dinner and the leftovers used for the next day's thermos-lunch:
- White Bean Chicken Chili
- Turmeric Beef Stew
- Slow Cooker Lentil Chili
- One Pot Taco Pasta
Chicken and other meat leftovers were used in our family to prepare sandwiches and wraps, along with LOTS of cut-up vegetables. For a meat-free lunch, I suggest using beans, lentils or tofu as the main protein-providing ingredient. For variety, wraps can also be assembled by using lettuce leaves or rice paper instead of wheat tortillas. Check out these kid- and teenager-friendly recipes:
- Chopped Salad Pitas
- Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps
- Hummus and Veggie Wrap
Younger kids love cut-up foods, so anything they find in their lunch box will more likely be eaten if it is in bite-size pieces. Mini-pitas or wraps in small pieces held together with a toothpick are always well received. Your food will become even more popular when it is served in different shapes. Be creative and use your cookie cutter!
For snacking, I always packed fruits for my boys. The containers filled with slices of an apple or pear, wedges of an orange or tangerine, cut-up watermelon, cantaloupe or berries, always returned home empty. I managed to keep store-bought, sugar-loaded sweets out of their lunch boxes most of the time, and sent homemade muffins, energy balls or other goodies with them instead. These had previously been prepped in large batches, and then frozen in single servings. The last three recipes in the free booklet are dessert/snack recipes:
- Avocado Brownies
- No-Bake Pumpkin Protein Bars
- Green Smoothie Muffins
To further reduce my kids' white sugar consumption, I opted for plain yogurt (dairy-based or dairy-free) which I flavoured myself by adding a touch of maple syrup or honey, fresh fruit, cinnamon or cocoa powder, hemp or chia seeds, depending on what I had on hand.
An essential part of my boys' lunch bags were their stainless steel bottles filled with filtered water, as proper hydration is vital! For picky eaters who refuse to drink plain water, you can add a few berries, wedges of tangerine or small chunks of pineapple into the water. This will provide some natural fruit flavour and sweetness.
Please keep food safety in mind! Any perishable food items should be packed with a cold pack to prevent spoilage.
There you have it, my tips for filling your child's lunch box with nutritious foods. My final piece of advice to you is to stay firm most of the time and teach your kids healthy eating habits. In a few weeks, you will be able to read more about this topic in one of my future blog posts.
In the meantime, enjoy trying out these new recipes!
Get access to your free recipe booklet here.