As soon as the calendar says August, moms begin mentally gearing up for a new school year. Whether you send your kids to public or private school, or you choose to home school, one of the most important pieces of your child’s day is their lunch. We have all seen the moms who start out the year with sandwiches cut into the shape of a star, placed lovingly amongst an array of well-balanced fruits and vegetables, topped with a cute hand-written note. We can also empathize with that same tribe of well-meaning moms who send their kiddos off in the month of May with whatever packaged goods the fridge or pantry still held. No one knows has determined if it’s better to make lunches the night before, or rush around in the morning, making breakfast and lunch simultaneously. But we all can agree that the most difficult part of school lunches, is being creative day after day while still giving our children all of the nutrients their growing bodies need. So here is a list of some of our favorite, nourishing lunches that you can make or tweak this school year.
Note: this list is geared more towards children who are taking a sack lunch to school since home school families have more options for learning within the proximity of a kitchen! (Leftovers for the win!)
- The Old-Fashioned
As much as it sounds cliche, there is just something so classic about a lunch built around a good old fashioned sandwich. Top some good bread with meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomato and you’ve already hit several of the food groups. Add an apple and bag of chips or pretzels and you’ve got yourself an all-time favorite.
- The Charcuterie
I don’t know what it is about deconstructed food, but when each ingredient is placed in separate piles, my kids think it’s the best thing since, well … sliced bread. Choose an item or two from each food group, and you’ve still provided a well-balanced meal.
– Protein: meat, boiled egg, hummus, nuts (as a secondary choice)
– Carbs: crackers, pita bread, tortilla, rice
– Dairy: cheese, yogurt
– Fruit: berries, dried fruit, raisins, avocado
– Vegetables: cucumbers, carrots, peas, bell pepper
- The Surf and Turf
One of my kids favorites is when I make a cold tuna salad with mayo, boiled egg, pickles, and tuna. They eat this either on bread as a sandwich or with tortilla chips, pita bread, or naan. Supplement with some fruit and a granola bar.
- The Classic PB+J
In Canada where I grew up, we could not bring peanut products to school, so I was pleasantly surprised when a friend here in Woodway told me that I could send PB+J for lunch with my child. The bonus is, most kids love this quick and easy sandwich. Pair with a good helping of vegetables, a boiled egg or jerky, and some cheese.
- The Wrap
Just to switch things up, sometimes we use tortillas as a carb instead of bread. You can really get creative with this by using different sauces or cuisines to inspire you.
– Chicken Caesar: chicken, lettuce, cheese, ranch or Caesar dressing
– Cobb: chicken, bacon, boiled egg, avocado, lettuce, dressing
– Asian-influenced: chicken, rice, veggie of your choice, teriyaki sauce
– Quesadilla or Soft Taco: melt cheese on one tortilla and fill with chicken/beef, bell pepper, rice and/or beans
We hope these ideas help with the lunch piece of your day, and that you will enjoy crafting nutritious lunches for your little ones – Cheers!