Healthy School Lunches – The main event

Okay so over the past two days we’ve discussed my hatred for all things sugar.  Now it’s time to move onto the all important main event.  The actual lunch.

This may seem easy but if you have kids like mine who get bored with their food quite often, then becoming creative is key.  My son rolls his eyes when he has to eat yet another sandwich so I actually try to stay away from those as often as possible, instead opting for other equally filling & healthy ideas.

Today I’m simply going to give you a list of things I have made in the past that have been a huge hit and are quite easy to make ahead of time.  Most will probably seem obvious, but when you’re a busy mom trying to think of a new idea, sometimes a list like this helps.  🙂

– Pasta Salad

Easy enough to make ahead of time.  You can include veggies and meat (chicken or ham goes very well with pasta).  I wouldn’t recommend a mayonnaise-based dressing as it can turn if their ice pack doesn’t last until lunch.  Instead, opt for an olive-oil based dressing.  One my kids love is that I mix 2 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar, add some Italian seasoning and crumbled feta.  That’s it.  By only using a small amount of balsamic, the dressing isn’t too vinegary for them, but enough to give it that little kick as olive oil on it’s own is a little bland.

– Bread-less Sandwich

This one is simple and throws the kids off.  Think of things you would put on their sandwich.  Meat, cheese, tomatoes?  Chop it all up into bite sized pieces and send a fork or just let them use their fingers.

– Couscous

Like the pasta salad, this one is great as you can add whatever you want to it.  Kids seem to love couscous and I find it survives better in a container than rice (which I find gets too sticky and dry after a few hours sitting in their lunch bag, even with an ice pack).

– Traditional dinner

Do you have some leftovers from last night?  Send them!  Meat, potatoes, veggies, why not?  The best part is, when they are cold, they actually have a different taste and the kids don’t seem to associate that it was the same thing they ate the night before.  lol

– Salad

My kids go nuts over salads in their lunch.  They really enjoy a salad that’s full of different things such as a mix of fruit & veggies.  Chopped peppers, grated carrots, cherry tomatoes, berries, even grapes.  Obviously no nuts allowed but they do enjoy a crunch such as croutons (which are super-easy to make homemade btw).  You can put the dressing in a separate container for them to pour on themselves when it comes time.  Try making a raspberry vinaigrette!  A little tip on salads – try using fresh spinach instead of romaine or iceberg.  Contains a lot more vitamins and when raw, doesn’t taste any different than any other lettuce.

– Tea Sandwiches

Although I said alternatives to sandwiches, these are so different that it’s a great option to mix it up.  You know those little tea sandwiches you get at grandma’s house?  Perfect for lunch or snack.  Cucumber, salmon, tuna, egg, chicken, etc.  The idea is that they are small and flat and cut into pieces small enough to eat in a few small bites.  I always ad one small leaf of spinach to each sandwich for the added nutritional benefit.  These are also great as they can easily be cut with a cookie cutter, making fun shapes for the kids to enjoy.

Just a few of the favourites in our house.  The key is to get creative but keep in mind, try to keep the “smell” to a minimum.  We all remember the kid in school with the stinky lunch.  Don’t let your child be that kid.  LOL

Well this was the last post in my mini-series on school lunches.  Hope you enjoyed.  We will return to regular scheduled programming now.  😉

I’ll leave you with a picture of a typical lunch I sent last year.

Apple slices & cheddar cheese, greek yogurt w/ maple syrup & blueberries, carrot sticks & dip, spinach & deli meat sandwich, goldfish crackers.

 

 

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