Packing your kids school lunches can be simple, inexpensive, and even fun! It can also be a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen, and teach them about proper nutrition from an early age.
To begin, let's talk about what makes up a healthy lunch! A healthy back to school lunch is comprised of three main food groups which include a healthy source of protein, fat, and carbohydrate.
Healthy Sources of Protein
Lean proteins are important for maintaining, and building your child's muscles, organs, and immune system. Here are some ideas for healthy sources of protein for your kids lunch boxes:
- Chicken breast (shredded, baked chicken nuggets, or grilled/baked chicken breast)
- Lean ground turkey, chicken, or extra lean ground beef
- Lean chicken or turkey sausage
- Plain low fat Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- String cheese (or other lower fat cheese)
- Hard boiled eggs
Healthy Sources of Fat
Healthy fats are important for developing your child's brain and nervous system. Here are some ideas for healthy sources of fat for your kids lunch boxes:
- Yolks of Eggs
- Almonds and Nut Butters (and other nuts/nut butters)
- Sunflower Seeds (and sunflower butter)
- Olive Oil & Coconut Oil (in moderation)
Healthy Sources of Whole Grains or Carbohydrates
Healthy carbohydrates are important for your child's blood sugar levels to be stable, and gives them sustained energy levels. Complex carbohydrates (such as unrefined grains, fruits and vegetables) are also rich in fiber, which helps your child's digestive system work well, and keeps them feeling satisfied. Here are some ideas for healthy sources of carbohydrates for your kids lunch boxes:
- Ezekiel Wraps and Breads
- Whole Grains (old fashioned oats)
- Whole Grain Breads, Wraps, Pastas, etc.
- Beans/Legumes (also a good source of protein)
Now let's talk about putting these food groups together in a fun and easy way! Here are five creative ideas for building your own healthy and fun lunchables:
1. Build Your Own Mini Pizzas with Whole Grain Tortillas, Mozzarella Cheese, and Marinara Sauce.
2. Build Your Own Tacos with Whole Grain Tortillas, Lean Ground Turkey (or Lean Ground Beef), Mozzarella, and Cherry Tomatoes.
3. Quinoa Pasta with Parmesan Cheese, Zucchini Chips (or any veggie your child likes), and Chicken Sausage.
4. Pinwheel Ham, Mozzarella String Cheese, and Hummus Sandwich on a Whole Grain Wrap, with a Side of Apple Slices, Almond Butter, and Baby Carrots.
5. Breakfast Sandwich on a Whole Grain Bagel Thin (or Ezekiel english muffin), with One Whole Egg, and a Slice of Thin Cut Cheese, with a Side of Plain Low Fat Greek Yogurt with Berries.
For even more creative lunch ideas, be sure to check out my video on creating healthy lunchables using Mason Jars!
I hope these ideas help make back-to-school lunches seem more manageable! Here's to a healthy and happy school year! xo Katie