I’ll admit, packing lunches is not something I look forward to doing every morning. But it’s so important to me to feed my children well, and especially during school when focus and concentration (and good behavior) is required for a long period of time.
Over the years of packing school lunches, I have learned that there are two key things to making a healthy lunch fun and successful. Rule number one — variety, and rule number two — small quantities. I don’t think many kids (or adults for that matter) want to eat a huge ziplock bag of carrots or cucumbers. Just throw a few veggies in with some other fun and healthy foods and chances are greater they will disappear.
For my kids lunch we will use either bento boxes or lots of small containers in a lunch box. Here is a link to a couple of different bento boxes:
Bento box example 1 – This is the one we use.
Bento box example 2 – I would love to get this one soon!
So, what do my kids eat for lunch at school? Well, Alice really likes her warm foods so most of the time I’ll pack a thermos with some spaghetti chili, sloppy joes, or hamburger, so she can get that grass fed, vitamin A & D filled protein fuel. Why do I feel eating this meat is important? Read this article or this old post of mine that helps explain some of the reasons. Okay, back to lunch. We also do lots of mini containers (they’re about 2×2 inches) along with her thermos. These containers typically include either carrots or cucumbers, nuts (pistachios, almonds, or cashews) , olives, fruit (apples, grapes, oranges typically), and then a small treat which would include a few dark chocolate (73% cacao) almonds or a couple of macaroons (low sugar with high omega-3s).
At camp this summer, Tate used a bento box (albeit pink!). Since he got out at 1:00 (and it was camp and not school) he didn’t need quite as much protein or food so this combination worked well for him. In his box we included KIND gluten-free granola, dark chocolate covered almonds, fruit (berries), carrots (or cucumbers), Wellshire Turkey Sticks, and some nut butter (or nuts) every day. And, for my little guy who doesn’t love carrots, would eat every single one of them every day at camp. Again, small quantity and variety makes lunch fun!
Here is a list of what we will use, along with some other ideas:
- Carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes or sweet peppers (you could add hummus)
- Olives (we love Mt Athos or Kalamata from Whole Foods Olive Bar or just black)
- Turkey or ham deli meat rolls – No nitrates
- Turkey sticks - Wellshire
- Some cheese, if no allergies or issues
- Gluten free granola (make sure it has less than 7 grams of sugar. Kind or Udi’s are good ones)
- Hotdogs – Applegate Farms Grass-fed Organic
- Pepperoni, Applegate Farms
- Steak, chicken bites from dinner the night before
- Nuts or seeds (my kids love pistachios, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds)
- Nut butter packets (Justin’s are great. We now use the almond and honey butter
with only 3 grams of sugar)
- Organic apple sauce
- Greek yogurt (low sugar)
- Crunchmaster or Mary’s Gone Crackers if you want them to have some crackers (gluten-free)
- Dark chocolate almonds (Trader Joe’s) for treat or Jennie’s Omega Macaroons