It’s back to school, back to routine and back to rushed mornings. If I have learned anything over the last 10 years of making lunches for my kids’, it’s keep it simple and have some sort of a plan. Now that my kids are in their teens I’m ready to have them do it all. However, left to their own devices they may not both make the same selections I would for a healthy lunch so some guidelines to follow can help. Here are a few suggestions to help streamline lunch making.
- Include at least 5-6 different items. These should include fruit, veg, protein-rich foods and a whole grain. Often keeping a list of the foods you have available on the fridge can help when making lunch.
Include 2 protein rich foods: hard boiled egg, edamame, nuts or seeds, nut or seed butters, hummus, black beans, lentils, chickpeas, chicken, tofu, tuna, salmon, turkey, ham, roast beef, pork tenderloin, cheese, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, soymilk.
Note: if you are packing lunches for little kids the same principles apply, you just need smaller portions. For example Nano probiotic yogurts are only 60g, contain whole milk, real fruit and no refined sugar or preservatives added. Nano Mozzarella 20g portions of cheese are a natural cheese in an easy to open container. Your teens will love these too but may want 2!
Include 2-3 fruit and vegetables: apples, berries, melon, mango, kiwi, grapes, dried fruit, apple sauce, canned fruit, raw vegetable sticks, cucumber rounds, veggies in stir fry or soup, salsa and tomato sauce. Keep cut fruit in clear glass containers for easy visibility.
Include 1 whole grain: whole grain bread, English muffins, pancakes, muffins, tortillas, pita, crackers, oat bars, quinoa, barley, brown rice or potatoes. Make muffins, French Toast, pancakes and waffles in bulk on the weekend and freeze them for lunches.
- Pic-nic style: Finger foods make easy to assemble lunches.
Hard boiled egg, Iogo yogurt, grapes, kiwi, carrot and pepper sticks, bran muffin
Mini tin tuna, crackers, cheese, cucumber rounds, cherry tomatoes, cantaloupe, trail mix
Hummus, raw vegetable sticks, yogurt and berries topped with granola, homemade energy ball
- Plan-overs. These are purposefully made leftovers. Cook once and eat twice! Try these lunches:
Meal in one salad with leftover chicken, quinoa or potatoes, Greek salad or cut tomatoes and cucumber on arugula or lettuce
Leftover spaghetti and meat sauce (reheated and stored in a thermos), leftover salad, strawberries and Iogo Greek yogurt,
Leftover taco fillings in a wrap, snap peas and peppers, apple sauce and graham wafers.
Leftover chili or bean soup in a thermos, whole grain roll with Nano mozzarella cheese slices, pineapple chunks and an apple
Leftover pizza, Leftover Greek salad, orange wedges, milk
Leftover teriyaki stir-fry or curry on brown rice, diced mango, fruit and yogurt smoothie
- Breakfast for lunch
Leftover French toast or pancakes spread with a nut butter, Greek yogurt and canned peaches sprinkled with chia or hemp hearts
Fruit and yogurt parfaits or smoothies, bran muffin, cut veggies
Egg and cheese wraps with salsa, cottage cheese and fruit
Egg, spinach and ham sandwiches, fruit salad and trail mix
- Re-invent sandwiches
Wraps filled with leftover chicken and roasted cauliflower from dinner and BBQ sauce, canned fruit, homemade energy ball
Pita filled with hummus or tuna, sprouts and feta, Greek salad, raw veg and tzatziki, banana bread
French Toast filled with sliced banana and peanut butter, yogurt and fruit, toasted almonds
Hopefully these ideas will inspire you and your teens into making delicious and nutritious lunches for school.