School is back in session. This is so bittersweet for so many of us, and for so many reasons. I’m sure we can all agree that one of the “bitter” reasons is the daunting task of making our kids lunches. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Trust me, as a mom of an almost 12-year-old, 9-year-old, and 6-year-old, I’ve had a lot of trial and error when it comes to making school lunches. I’m constantly trying to find new ideas to keep things different and exciting for our little ones, and also keep them nourished and satisfied. The trick: let’s not overthink this. It’s food. Here on Poosh, we are sharing with you some basic planning that can help with lunch prep and my top 10 go-tos in each category—main meal, veggie, fruit, snack. That’s all they need.
Main meals are the primary substance of their lunch—think sandwich, protein, pasta, meatballs, or even cut up leftover pizza. The meal is usually the first thing I check to see was eaten when they get home. Fruit can be any fresh fruit, although I never include bananas as they brown and get smashed. Then we’ve got veggies—fresh veggies, not dried. Last, I like to include a snack. Not necessarily a treat, but something I know they will enjoy snacking on like cheddar bunnies, rice crackers, or pretzels. Mix and match any of the below for endless lunch ideas to help you get through the school year.
Tips for making school lunches easy for moms and yummy for kids:
1. Use steel reusable containers.
2. Prep the day before, not the morning of.
3. Don’t be afraid to put leftovers in their lunch.
4. Use the four categories for an easy checklist: main meal, fruit, veggie, and snack.
5. No drink other than water. Juices or any other sweet drinks or sodas can get in the way and distract them from the food.
6. No junk food. If you include the junk, they will most likely fill up on that first. So, make sure everything you put in the lunch is something you want them to eat.
1. Sandwich—my go-to sandwiches include cream cheese sandwich, PB sandwich, and turkey sandwich, but feel free to sub in anything you know your kids will enjoy. If your kids don’t love sandwiches, try sliced or shaved organic turkey breast from an organic grocery store.
2. Party Size Mini Meatballs from Trader Joe’s
3. Leftover pasta or pizza cut up into tiny bites
4. Hard-boiled egg, peeled and salted
5. Leftover taco meat, with a tortilla on the side
6. Cut up grilled chicken breast
7. Hummus with sliced pita and/or veggies
8. Chia pudding—full of protein, easy to make, and my kids love it
10. Quinoa—full of protein, gluten-free, and also easy to make
1. Gluten-free popcorn
2. Gluten-free pretzels
3. Freeze-dried broccoli, beets, or fruit
4. Cashews or almonds if your school is not nut-free
5. Cheddar bunnies (or goldfish)
6. Rice cakes
7. Sliced string cheese
8. Siete Foods tortilla chips from Whole Foods
9. Homemade kale chips
10. Cut up Perfect Bar—sold at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s
1. Any berry—blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, sliced strawberries
2. Sliced apple, pear, nectarine, or kiwi without the skin
3. Watermelon or honeydew with salt
4. Pomegranate seeds
6. Mango or pineapple
7. Peeled tangerines, cuties, or sliced oranges
8. Grapes—red or green or both
9. In a pinch, I’ll include a couple of cut up dates, but not often because they are higher in sugar content
10. Kumquats—my kids love them
1. Sliced cucumber with lemon and salt (I realize this is actually a fruit, but I categorize it under veggie)
2. Celery—plain or with peanut butter
3. Sliced carrots
4. Sliced bell peppers or baby bell peppers
5. Sugar snap peas
6. Leftover roasted broccoli, brussels sprouts, artichoke hearts, or asparagus from the night before
7. Baby heirloom tomatoes or grape tomatoes
9. Cooked cauliflower rice
10. Sliced radishes
Here’s to happy lunch-making and another successful school year.