Summer flew by and now it’s time to think about school lunches. There’s nothing wrong with having a sandwich but there are many other creative meals that are easy to make and enjoyable for your kids.
Essentials For A Healthy Lunch
A healthy lunch is balanced and offers variety. Vegetables and fruits should be present, but your child will need the bulk of their energy to come from carbohydrates.
Pick high-quality whole grain carbs whenever possible. They are rich in fibre and essential nutrients, including iron, that kids need to grow and thrive.
Protein is recommended at every meal. It helps to keep bellies satisfied and the amino acids in the protein are essential building blocks that build new tissues, hormones, and muscles.
As a child grows their protein requirements will increase. Both animal protein and plant-based options are appropriate for school lunches, just make them travel with an ice pack to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Room temperature meat sitting out for three hours is considered unsafe.
Easy School Lunch Ideas
Using leftovers and simple ingredients is the easiest way to make school lunches. Here are some examples of what you can make at home for your kids to bring to school:
- Include a hard-boiled egg, cut into bite-sized pieces
- A piece of whole grain toast
- 2-3 slices of cheese
- Cut up orange slices
- Small yogurt
- Pasta salad with fruit
- Shell pasta with tomato sauce or olive oil
- Topped with shredded parmesan cheese
- Add shredded chicken to your pasta
- Include watermelon on the side
- Rainbow lunch
- Cut red and yellow bell pepper
- Blueberries or purple grapes
- 1 cheese string
- One serving of whole grain pita bread
- Hummus for dipping vegetables
- Whole grain tortillas with cheese, peppers, and black beans
- Add fresh tomatoes for snacking
- Include pineapple slices
- Offer a small portion of sour cream if they like to drip their quesadillas
- Meatball sub
- Meatballs with tomato sauce
- Dinner roll with cheese
- Cucumber and tomatoes on the side
- Fresh apple slices
- Vegetable muffin sandwich
- Zucchini muffins with cheese and ham
- Cooked broccoli with parmesan on the side
- Fresh raspberries
- Small yogurt cup
- Pesto pizza wraps
- Whole grain tortilla wraps with pepperoni, cheese, and pesto
- Fresh carrots
- Fresh grapes
- Turkey and cheese roll-ups
- Turkey slices rolled into a log
- Cheddar Cheese slices rolled into a log
- Snap peas with hummus
- Strawberries and blueberries
- Small yogurt cup
How To Handle Picky Eating
Some degree of picky eating is normal in children. As they grow and develop their taste buds will change. This can be frustrating for parents, who pack a lunch filled with their favourite foods only to find the lunch box still full when the child comes home.
The best thing to do is get your child involved with the lunch packing process. Kids are more likely to eat foods they had a hand in making. Ask them to help you wash the grapes, or to help your roll up the cheese or turkey for their lunches. These moments can be a great bonding experience and bring you and your little ones closer.
Treat Items for Kid Lunch Ideas
Generally, kids should not eat products with a lot of added sugar. This includes chocolates and sweets but also beverages and flavoured dairy products (like ice cream). Foods with large amounts of sugar can displace more nutritious options from the diet.
Many dentists discourage introducing high-sugar foods into your child’s diet because it can negatively impact their dental health. Juvenile teeth are susceptible to cavities which can be painful to treat.
Relying on whole fruit and fruit-based products may be a better option instead of products with large amounts of added sugar. You can serve fruit fresh in the lunch box or bake it into healthier muffins made from scratch. Either would make for healthy lunch ideas for kids or healthy snacks for school.
Brainstorming school lunch ideas should not be hard. Remember to include protein, a high-quality carb, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Pack water alongside the lunch to help your child stay hydrated.