Steer your kids away from the pizza line by packing their lunches with these delicious goodies.
You want to keep it simple. And healthy. And tasty enough to make sure your kids aren't trading away their homemade lunches for potato chips and pizza.
While every kid's food preferences and social eating habits differ, many like to have something they can easily pick up and set down. The younger ones usually like to show off the fun things they have to eat that day. The older ones usually like to have something they can eat quickly—without drawing any attention to themselves. Nothing that permeates any weird smells (that means you can exclude egg salad and tuna from their lunch options), nothing that can get stuck in their teeth, and nothing that might look too out of the ordinary.
Here are a few lunch and snack options to fill your children up with essential nutrients and keep them loving their homemade lunches.
At first thought, a quesadilla doesn't sound all that healthy. And it isn't... unless you stretch the definition of the quesadilla. Swap out the highly processed white tortilla for a whole wheat, quinoa, or veggie-based tortilla. Under the cover of the cheese and tortilla, you can hide in some chicken, avocado, beans, and/or spinach. All of a sudden, this quick and easy lunch option just got healthy! You can also choose to make it a wrap!
If you want to limit your children's exposure to gluten or just the amount of it that they eat, you can nix the bread completely and roll everything together in lunch meat. Purchase the thicker version of deli meat so that everything stays together, and then wrap it up with their favorite sandwich toppings, such as avocado, lettuce, tomato, and/or mustard.
For a wholesome spin on the classic sandwich, get rid of the white bread and choose a whole wheat or sourdough bread. The throwbacks like almond butter and banana as well as turkey and cheese sandwiches are great staples for a healthy school lunch. You can have a little fun and add in some alternative sandwich toppings too! Swap out mayo for hummus, cheese for guacamole, romaine lettuce for spinach, or salty pickles for fresh cucumbers.
The next time you make tacos, set some of the taco meat aside for next-day lunches. You can box up some lettuce, brown rice, black beans, ground beef, salsa, and cheese so easily! Dinner for tonight and lunch for tomorrow are done!
This one only works if your children have access to a microwave. But, this little gem will keep them out of the school pizza line. Costco sells a great frozen cauliflower pizza that you can throw in the oven and top with healthy additions. Add some bell peppers, shredded chicken, mushrooms, broccoli, etc. All your kids have to do is re-heat and eat!
Quick warning. This snack can get a little messy for the younger eaters, but it's so delicious and nutritious. Simply slice an apple or banana and serve it with a small container filled with almond, sunflower seed, or cashew butter. They can dip in and enjoy the nutritious benefits of fruit as well as the savory and satiating benefits of nut butter. For a cuter (and cleaner) version, sandwich the peanut butter between two banana slices and your kids can just pop the little morsels right into their mouths!
You can also break out the food processor and toss in a handful of dates, a hearty scoop of almond butter, some spinach, half of an avocado, a little almond milk, and a splash of water. Blend everything together and store it in the fridge in a couple of snack-size plastic containers. Your children can pull out the containers and spoons from their chilled lunchboxes and eat this fruit and nut butter combo like ice cream!
Make a big batch of protein bites at the beginning of the week so that all you have to do is bag them up on the morning of. Almost all kids love to ask what they can have for dessert after dinner, lunch, and sometimes even breakfast. Now, you don't have to feel guilty as you hand them a sweet treat—because there isn't anything bad in these hand-rolled energy bites!
Most grocery stores sell squeeze pouches of whole milk yogurt with fruit and veggies pureed within. If you want to add in a couple extra goodies, you can also make your own. Add a few scoops of whole milk greek yogurt to your food processor as well as some fresh berries, avocado, and veggies (like spinach or kale). It will turn the yogurt green. But, other than the color, the kids won't be able to taste the hidden veggies within!
Individually-wrapped trail mix snacks can get add up in price as well as salt and sugar content. Instead, buy a bag of mixed nuts in bulk and then add some fun additions. Top your kids' baggies of trail mix with yogurt chips, gluten-free pretzel bites, dried fruit, and/or unsweetened dark chocolate chips.