Packing a healthy and tempting lunchbox for your kids every single school day can be a challenge. You need to follow school rules about the kinds of food, pack a well-balanced meal, and also include things that your child will actually finish. There are also several precautions to take, such as cutting up the fruit and making sure it doesn’t brown. Many kids also need cholesterol screening or have food allergies, which makes quick lunches even harder.
However, packing your child’s lunch will ensure that you have some input in what they eat during the day. Making healthy choices and choosing when to give them a treat will help them develop proper eating habits for the future. A little preparation never hurts, though, so here are some great lunchbox ideas to get you started for the week:
1. A Twist on the Classic Sandwich
When in doubt, go for the good old sandwich. You can easily throw one together with mayo, cheese, shredded chicken, turkey slices, and so on.
However, just a simple sandwich is hardly exciting day after day. Instead of just assembling leftovers between two bread slices, try varying up the ingredients and presentation of the sandwich. It will tell the child that you’ve put some care into their food (even if they register that though only subconsciously) and might even tempt them to finish the whole thing.
For instance, you couple try a triple or double decker sandwich with all their favorite filings. Fry up an egg to make one of the layer fillings, toast the bread in the frying pan to make it soft, or use different kinds of bread every week. At the very least, you’ll be varying up your child’s palate.
If you’re up to a little more effort, try cutting out the sandwiches with the cookie cutters. The result will be delightful little bites that will be easier for a little kid to eat.
Among many non-sandwich lunch box options are food on sticks or little skewers. Make sure you use flat sticks with blunt edges for young children. In fact, these safe sticks are a better idea for children of any age.
It’s usually more fun for a kid to eat food from a stick than in sandwich form. You can slice sausage or hot dogs, grill chicken and cut it into small pieces, and throw in some cubes of cheese and bread for good measure. The result will be delicious, while the process is fairly easy. If you’d like some fruits or veggies in there, cut them up into cubes as well. Just make sure to use options that won’t have runny juices or get brown too fast. Carrots, broccoli, radishes, grapes, and certain berries might be perfect for school lunches.
Quesadillas are a great hot with many kids, even if they’re not really hot by lunchtime. It’s like a sandwich, only you use a tortilla instead of sliced bread. Fill it up with the ingredients of your choice and grill the whole thing on a pan or griddle.
There’s a video going around about how to make a cut in a tortilla and then fill it with no less than four ingredients. The tortilla can then be folded into four layers and placed in a George Foreman grill. The result will be flavorful and hold together well enough for packing in lunchboxes.
4. Roll-Ups With Meat
Instead of loading your kids’ lunch boxes with empty carbs like white bread, use deli slices of ham or beef to make bite-sized delicacies for their lunch. You can roll those slices around cream cheese, cheese sticks, cubes or cheese, greens, or any type of filling. This recipe is sure to be full of nutrients and vitamins that are essential for a growing kid.
Once you’ve got your little slices all rolled up, secure them with a toothpick or fruit skewer so they don’t unroll when the lunchbox is carried.
5. Quinoa Salad
It can be difficult to convince kids to eat healthy options like quinoa, but you can dress it up with ingredients they like. If they try it once, kids are sure to ask for the same thing again at a later point.
For the lunchbox, you can try mixing in sautéed veggies, cheese, and meat into a bowl of plain quinoa. Dress it a little with a vinaigrette and pack it up in a spill-proof box. Make sure to cook the quinoa so that it’s fluffy, soft, and overall easy for the kid to eat. You can pair this combination with a small brownie, basil, mozzarella, pear slices, and tomatoes.
6. Spring Rolls
Making spring rolls is really easy if you have an hour or so to spare. In addition to the falling, all you need are some thin rice paper wrappers or lettuce leaves. Julienne your veggies and sauté them with the herbs of your choice. Other fillings might include tofu, shrimp, etc. Once you’ve filled the wraps up and closed them tightly, you can even store them in the freezer. This way, you can fry up a couple in the morning and have them ready for a lunch box in no time. Pair the rolls with sliced peppers, cubed meat, some pieces of cheese, a vegan chocolate square, and blueberries.
7. Cooked Sushi
If you have some leftover fish from the night before, use that with some boiled rice to make sushi rolls for kids. Of course, that required some practice and time, so get the kids involved if possible. All you’d have to do is press the fish and rice inside a sheet of seaweed. Slicing up the roll will give you several pieces at once.
The sushi rolls can be paired with soy sauce, mustard, edamame, cookies, or raspberries.
8. Noodle Salads
You can use last night’s leftovers for this lunchbox idea, or just throw in anything you’ve prepared especially for school lunches. This could include pieces of grilled chicken, beef, truly slices, tinned fish, mixed vegetables, etc.
The noodles you use might also vary. Try making homemade ramen noodles instead of buying them readymade. Soba or udon noodles will also work well with any kind of ingredient or mix-in. You can also throw in some feta cheese, cottage cheese, and a bit of butter to keep it all together.
9. Hummus Dip
Hummus is an easy and healthy lunchbox option, so consider putting in a covered pot for the upcoming week. You can put in a lot of items for them to dip in the hummus, making for a fun, interesting, and nutritious lunch.
The dipping items could include carrots, olives, salami, baby tomatoes, grapes, and so on. Pack a couple of skewers or toothpicks to make the dipping easier and less messy.
10. Breakfast Items
The next time you have an above-average breakfast, see if you can save any leftovers for school lunches. The items could include pancakes, sausages, hard-boiled eggs, and so on. Look up ways to make your own pancake mix at home; it will help you control the ingredients and get an easy breakfast idea at the same time.
Many parents out there are stumped for kids’ lunch ideas, but a bit of research and prepping can make this daily task a lot easier. Make sure you know about any prohibited food items for your child’s school, such as nuts or sugary treats. If your kid is old enough, try asking them what they’d like in their lunch boxes for the week. As time goes by, you can even delegate some of the burden by getting the kids to pack their choices themselves.