Easy healthy school lunches
No matter what time of year, along with getting school supplies for your kids, you’ll probably be packing lunch every day. It can be a huge challenge to pack easy healthy school lunches and snacks, and unfortunately way too easy to throw in prepackaged snacks and awful sandwiches.
The good news is that with a little bit of effort at the beginning of the week, you can packing a school lunch fast, simple, healthy and delicious! Even better news is that this advice doesn’t just work for school lunches, but for your lunch as well. A win-win for the whole family!
*Disclaimer: These healthy school lunch box ideas are designed for a healthy plant-based diet, and you won’t find lunch meat and a carton of milk here. Studies show that a plant-powered diet is the key to health and longevity.
Make sure you are stocked up on everything you’ll need to make a healthy school lunch. Containers with a lot of compartments are best, but you can also utilize small food storage containers in your preference of glass or plastic, and small plastic bags as well. It all depends on the type of food you will be packing.
Glass is the most ideal if you are at all worried about BPA and leeching plastic, but for foods that won’t need to be heated up, plastic will work just fine (BPA-free, of course), and you don’t have to worry about glass breakage or extra weight in their backpacks.
Make sure you have enough food containers to last for the entire week, or at least for a few days so you can prep a few days’ lunches in advance.
Imagine the food pyramid as you plan out what you’re going to pack. Make sure all the major food groups are represented, such as carbohydrates, protein, fruits and vegetables.
Here are some general ideas for each food group:
- Carbohydrates: a small serving of rice or pasta, bread, pita bread, or a tortilla wrap.
- Protein: hummus, almond butter, or bean spread.
- Vegetables: broccoli, carrots, celery sticks, sliced bell peppers (Peppers must be organic! Read about the Dirty Dozen!)
- Fruit: apples, bananas, an orange, some grapes, or berries.
Once you’ve purchased everything at the store, it’s time to prep your lunches. This can all be done on the weekend, so you don’t have to even think about lunches during the week. Your older kids can easily pack their own.
Cook any protein and carbohydrate that needs to be cooked. You can cook up a large portion of beans for the week as well as rice or pasta, and divide them into the appropriate serving sized containers.
Here is a delicious recipe for Adzuki Bean Burgers — so easy and delicious! Whip up a batch that will last all week.
Wash and chop up all fruits and vegetables that need to be cut to size. I highly recommend the Veggie Bullet which not only saves time, but slices and spiralizes into fun “spaghetti” — which can be eaten raw and will stay in your kids’ lunch box for the morning.
Cut up bell peppers into spears as well as celery. Cut broccoli into florets. You can include a whole apple or orange, or divide them up as your child prefers. A spritz of lemon juice will keep apples from browning once cut.
Small ramekin type food containers are perfect for dips. Portion out a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter or hummus into each one for your kids to dip their fruits and vegetables into.
Designate a place for lunch containers in your fridge or pantry so it’s easy to just grab one of each food group to place in the lunch box. Your child can be free to choose which sides they’d like with their lunch.
If your child needs an extra snack during the day, make sure you’re prepared to add these as well. This is where prepackaged snacks can come in handy if you buy the right ones. Try to find healthy granola or protein bars (some of them contain as much sugar as a candy bar, yikes!) or prepare your own grab-and-go snacks to throw in their lunchbox.
A small package of nuts can also make a good snack if your child’s school allows them, as well as pretzels.
Don’t forget a drink! Avoid the child-sized drinks in the supermarket as they’re usually full of sugar. A large water bottle is the best option, flavored with organic lemon or lime juice, with a pinch of stevia.
Juice should be avoided for the most part as they also contain too much sugar, sometimes more than soda does. Soda, it should go without saying, has no place in your child’s lunchbox either.
Lunch Combo Ideas
Here are some ideas for putting together a full lunchbox meal:
- Rice and beans (a complete protein) with an apple and carrot sticks.
- A wrap with peanut butter and banana slices, bell pepper slices, and hummus.
- Whole wheat bread, peanut butter and natural jelly, with a side of broccoli.
- Pasta (or vegetable zoodles), and tomato sauce, with berries and celery sticks.
- A small burrito filled with bean spread or hummus and cucumbers, with some cherry tomatoes and an orange.
- Try meatless alternatives to kid-friendly staples such as chicken nuggets, paired with a banana and some broccoli.
With just a little planning, your kids could be well-prepared with easy, healthy school lunches and snacks to sustain them for their day at school…!