Now that the dust has settled on the excitement of being back to school, you’re left staring at the lunchboxes every night, hoping they’ll magically pack themselves. The bad news is, they probably won’t – but the good news is, we can help!
Preserve your sanity and keep your kids nourished all year long with these 6 tips for making healthy, delicious lunches:
1. Make It Fun
Tired of packing the very same apple Monday through Friday and seeing it come home at the end of every day? Even if you’re not the type who has the time and energy to cut your child’s food into elaborate shapes (and really, who does), you can still make lunch fun. Try these simple suggestions:
- Ants on a log (try reduced fat cream cheese for a surprise zing!)
- Apple slices with peanut butter for dipping (or sun butter if your school is nut free)
- Raw veggies and cheese cubes on a short skewer
- Cheerios, raisins and dark chocolate nibs for a trail mix treat
2. Put a Twist on the Classics
Instead of the same old peanut butter and jam on white bread, try a PBJ roll-up using whole wheat wraps. These roll ups are way more fun than a standard sandwich – stuff with apples, berries (skip the jam), or bananas for bonus points. Roll-ups work for any type of sandwich: think tuna, egg salad, turkey slices, hummus, and cucumber.
3. Make the Most of Leftovers
Last night’s casserole can be tomorrow’s lunch! Leftover chicken can transform into yummy chicken salad sandwiches. A large batch of quinoa salad will only get tastier a few days later.
4. Ask For Input
This might just be the number one key to success. If your little one gets to decide what’s for lunch (within reason of course – candy isn’t on this menu), they’re much more likely to eat it up come lunch bell. Keep it simple and healthy by offering two or three choices or asking for a handful of suggestions. If you’re into extensive meal planning, include the kids in this, too. You might just be surprised to learn they love quinoa salad but aren’t into grape jelly.
5. Think Cool
Cooking is time-consuming, so cut it out when you’re short on time. Have a fridge full of healthy options you can throw together (think about those roll-ups!) and lunch will come together in no time.
- Pasta salad
- Fruit salad (add in some granola and yogurt and you’ve got a parfait!)
- Smoothies (keep well in a thermos!)
- Cut up veggies, cheese and meat for a little lunch tray!
- On Sundays, roast a big chicken and cut it up to keep in the fridge for various lunch items throughout the week: sandwiches, add to pasta, soups or as a stand alone snack!
6. Go Slow
Slow cookers are one of the most genius inventions. Just add lentils or chickpeas along with herbs, spices, and chopped celery, carrots, onions, and garlic (or any other favorite recipe) the night before and you’ll have a delicious stew by morning. Just ten minutes of prep! You can make big batches and freeze for future lunches, too.