How do your kids like their school lunches?
Whether you send food to school or your kids eat hot lunch at the cafeteria, lunchtime can be a touchy topic.
Though the National School Lunch Program provides hot lunch to approximately 31 million students across America each day, parents are increasingly keen on sending kids to school with meals from home.
Parents opt to pack their children’s lunches due to health reasons as well as their children’s preferences. Some choose to send in lunch because it works out to be cheaper than buying lunch at school.
If you want to send your kids to school with their own meals, here are some healthy lunch ideas to get you started.
1. Grilled Chicken Panini
Does your little one like sandwiches?
If so, a small panini press and some boneless skinless chicken breasts can save the day.
While making dinner the night before, grill some lightly-spiced chicken breasts. Once cooked through, refrigerate them in a Tupperware to use the next day.
The next morning, assemble a quick panini using the following recipe.
- two pieces of flatbread, lightly greased or buttered
- One grilled chicken breast
- Some chopped orange or green bell peppers
- Cheddar or Swiss cheese
- Assemble chicken, peppers, and cheese on one flatbread
- Cover with second flatbread
- Heat in a panini or sandwich press until cooked through and warm
- Put the panini in a bento box or Tupperware, and voila! Lunch is made!
For dessert, offer an apple or a banana in the lunchbox.
2. Roast Beef Roll-up
Do your kids get very hungry throughout the schooldays?
Perhaps the solution is a protein-packed lunch. Protein keeps a person satiated for longer than any other food. However, the protein can’t be overpowered by a simple carb component. Simple carbs (like bread) give people a quick sugar rush, and then the hunger pangs kick in.
So here’s a quick healthy trick: eliminate the bread. Offer a roast beef roll-up for lunch instead.
Use roast beef as your base, and layer it with sliced cheese (like mozzarella) and your kids’ favorite veggies. Roll the whole thing up into two or three separate rolls, and pack them in a bento box.
Your kids will love the juicy blend of meat and veggies, and the meal will stave off hunger until dinnertime.
3. Taco Pockets
Do your kids have a hankering for Mexican food sometimes?
though school lunches have become more diverse, pizza, burgers, and chicken sandwiches are still the standard fair. If you have an insulated lunchbox that can hold heat, you can prepare simple taco pockets.
Filled with beef, cheese, veggies and salsa, these yummy tacos are as delicious as they are nutritious.
- Ground and seasoned beef (or chicken)
- Soft flour tortilla
- Shredded Mexican blend cheese
- Mild salsa
- Warm tortilla slightly.
- Add cheese, meat, and salsa to the center of the tortilla.
- Fold the tortilla edges to form a pocket.
- Grill taco pocket until the tortilla is sealed.
You can modify this recipe according to taste. For instance, if your kid is a fan of spicy food, add an extra kick with chopped jalapeños.
4. Brunch Muffins
How hectic are your mornings?
If chaos reigns in your home before school each day, your kids probably have time for a bowl of cereal rather than a hot breakfast.
Don’t feel bad. About 3 million kids skip breakfast before school. As long as yours eat something prior to the school days, they aren’t hungry and they’re more likely to focus during classes.
However, if they miss the taste of traditional breakfast food, offer some brunch in a creative, convenient form.
Brunch muffins are easy to make. You can add other favorites, but the mix of egg, bacon, and cheese is satisfying enough on its own.
- Olive oil
- Bacon (cooked and crumbled)
- Your choice of cheese
- Muffin tins
- Beat eggs thoroughly
- Stir in two teaspoons of milk
- Line muffin tins with olive oil to grease
- Pour egg mixture evenly into each muffin tin
- Top with cheese and crumbled bacon
- Bake the brunch muffins at 360 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
If you want to ensure that your cheese or bacon won’t burn if your muffins bake for slightly too long, blend the cheese and bacon bits into the egg mixture before baking.
5. Chicken Zoodle Parmesan
Are you ready for this exciting healthy twist on a classic kids’ favorite?
Children and adults alike love a delicious bowl of chicken parm. But if you don’t want to overload your kids on starchy pasta, substitute it with zoodles.
- Marinara sauce (jarred or homemade)
- Spaghetti squash
- Grilled chicken breast (spiced with Italian seasoning; optional)
- Cut the squash lengthwise, and remove the seeds
- Put each half face-down on a greased baking sheet.
- Bake at 360 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 50 minutes.
- Upon taking it out of the oven, scoop the strands from inside of the squash.
- Shred the spaghetti-like strands with a fork.
- Scoop it into a lunch container.
- Layer grilled chicken breast on the bed of spaghetti squash.
- Top with marinara and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Your kids will love the hardy taste of zoodles, and they’ll have fun showing the creative dish to their friends.
Quick Healthy Lunch Ideas to Mix and Match
If you’re short on time, it’s difficult to pack healthy lunches. But rest assured, these quick, portable lunch ideas are both filling and nutritious. You can mix and match them as well, creating meals that your kids won’t bring home uneaten.
Running low on dinner leftovers? It’s ok to throw some jerky meat (bought or homemade) into a lunch box and call it a meal. Add a small salad or some veggies and dip to complete the dish.
Boiled Eggs and Crackers
Do your kids love boiled eggs?
Make hard-boiled eggs the night before, and throw them into a paper bag with a sleeve of saltines. Your kids can peel their eggs and assemble their own cracker sandwiches.
This lunch is portable, clean, and so easy to throw together! For a bit of healthy sweetness, add healthy lunch snacks to round out the meal.
Lunchtime Problems Solved
With the above suggestions, you have more than a week’s worth of healthy lunch ideas. Not only are these meals healthy, but they’re irresistible to kids as well.
For more mom-friendly hacks and tricks, browse around the rest of our blog. We’re here to make parenting fun, creative, and easier for you.