Packing lunches for your kids to take to school can be a fun task, however, it can also be challenging. Constantly trying to think of new and healthy things to pack can be difficult, especially with busy schedules, hectic mornings, and picky eaters. A little planning and inspiration can go a long way toward helping you and your kids pack healthy lunches every day.
Meal planning helps to take the stress out of what to cook for dinner each night and what to pack your kids for lunch the next day. Turning your dinner leftovers into a delicious lunch saves both time and money. Create a grocery list based off your nourishing meal plan, add a variety of wholesome snacks, and you and the kids will have nutritious food choices at your fingertips all week long. Here are four healthy school lunch ideas to help you get started.
1. Breakfast for Lunch
Kids love to have breakfast for dinner, but have you ever thought about packing breakfast for lunch? You don’t need to make a full hot and fresh breakfast during the morning rush for it to be tasty. Hard boiled eggs are a quick and easy protein to keep on hand. You could also simply reheat leftovers like whole-grain banana pancakes or a slice of vegetable frittata. Place heated food into an insulated container to keep warm until lunchtime. Add a few extras like fresh fruit and yogurt on the side and you’ll have one happy kid.
2. DIY Lunch Kit
Kids love prepackaged lunch kits because every item has its own designated space and they can assemble their food just how they like it. These kits are very convenient since you can just grab them off the refrigerator shelf and go. However, they are not the best choice for lunch every day since they are missing key nutrients and often include sugary drinks and treats.
Affordable bento box lunchboxes are widely available and make it easy to replicate a lunch kit at home. Small reusable containers can work, too. Fill up the compartments with healthier versions of the original lunch kit items, including meat, cheese, and crackers. Add their favorite fruits and vegetables for a simple and well-balanced meal. Make lunchtime even more fun by adding a dip like honey Greek yogurt for cut-up apples or a zesty salad dressing for cucumber slices.
3. Lunch Kebabs
There’s something about food on a stick that kids find irresistible. Maybe it’s because it’s more fun to eat bite-sized pieces off a stick than off a boring old fork. Maybe it’s the colourful layers all stacked together. Either way, food on a stick is yummy and sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. Be sure to use flat, blunt skewers for safety.
Lunch kebabs can be sweet, savory, or a combination of both. They can hold one type of food, such as slices of chicken sausage or mini meatballs, or you can layer them with a variety of items. Have fun with it, make it colorful, and your kids may try something new simply because it’s on a stick.
4. Soup and Salad
A warm lunch on a cold school day is such a comfort. Soups, stews, and chili are easy to make ahead of time and take just a minute or two to reheat in the morning. You can often sneak extra veggies into them, as well. Dinner classics like chicken noodle soup and beef stew are sure to be a hit the next day at lunch. Simple fruit salads, pasta salads, and green salads made from healthy ingredients can balance out these warm dishes. If your soup and salad are on the lighter side, then include more filling sides such as hummus, nuts, eggs, or whole-grain bread to keep your kids satisfied longer.
In addition to lunches, it’s important to consider healthy snacks for kids, too. Many schools allow students to bring a snack for the morning or afternoon, depending on their lunch schedule. Help your kids make better snacking choices after school, as well, by having wholesome foods readily available. Replace sugary drinks like soda and juice with water as much as possible. A diet that’s high in nutrients and low in sugar is part of each child’s preventive dental care. It’s one of the ways they can avoid cavities that lead to discomfort, pain, and missed school time.
There is a strong connection between your child’s oral health and their overall health, so it’s just as important to teach kids about dental care as it is to feed them healthy foods. Packing nutritious school lunches for your kids is a great goal to focus, as is helping them to develop daily brushing and flossing habits. Talk to your dental office today if you need to schedule your child’s regular cleaning and checkup appointment.