Back-to-school season is right around the corner, and parents are busy stocking up on school supplies, tech gear, new shoes and clothes as little kids and teens prepare for the classroom. But don’t forget to come up with some fresh ideas and line your pantry with some grocery staples for the most exciting time of the day for lots of kids: lunchtime. Whether they love to be social or just look forward to the break from classwork, bringing food from home is a tasty way to enjoy a meal at school. We’re sharing seven ways to make easy school lunches for kids.
Before we get into the fun food ideas, make sure your child has a lunch container they really love to use, especially if they are elementary-school age, a time when that fun flair seems to be extra important. If they love hard-sided lunchboxes, see if you can find their favorite movie or adventure character. Other children might prefer soft-sided lunch bags, small cloth bags with handles, or even fancy bento boxes.
As for what to pack inside a lunch box, the possibilities are almost endless. Some kids love the familiar regularity of taking a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and fruit every day, while others want variety. Here are some ideas to help you offer your students some healthy lunch choices and give them the energy they need for the second half of the school day.
- Hummus pinwheels packed with crispy vegetables and a side of fruit.
- These black bean burgers can be easily warmed up in a school microwave.
- Pack some veggie meatballs alongside this colorful Italian pasta salad.
- Make a healthier kind of PB&J wrap using sunflower seed butter, low-sugar jam, banana slices and a sprinkle of granola.
- Whip up a batch of these 4-ingredient pancakes in a blender and pack them with mixed berries and some yogurt for topping.
- These cherry pie overnight oats taste like a dessert but will keep kids feeling full until dinner.
- Fill a pita with hummus, lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, and tuck in a side of fruit.
- Teens will love warming up a power bowl that’s made with microwavable rice, black beans, sliced veggies and has a dressing drizzled on top.
- Place some lightly breaded chicken tenders in an air fryer. Serve it with marinara sauce, a side of pasta and baby mozzarella balls.
- Create different kinds of healthy, homemade lunchables. Find ideas here.
- Make it Taco Tuesday any day of the week by packing cooked boneless chicken along with some shredded cheese, small tortillas and a side of fruit and milk.
- Make a filling black bean burrito by adding veggies, brown rice and cheese to the beans.
No lunch meat
- Use rotisserie chicken, veggies and cheese for a wrap or traditional sandwich.
- Hummus and thinly sliced cucumbers make a creamy – and crunchy – sandwich filling.
- Stuff hollowed-out chunks of cucumber with tuna salad and serve it with some chilled pasta.
- Pack their favorite flavor of Greek yogurt along with a fresh fruit skewer, whole wheat crackers and veggies with hummus.
- Mix bites of rotisserie chicken into this pasta salad.
Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. For more health tips and information, visit AHealthierMichigan.org.
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