Back to the Basics with School Lunches!

Packing a healthy school lunch for your child can be tricky. It gets even trickier when food allergies or intolerances are involved! I still remember the thought and worry that went into packing the first school lunch for my eldest daughter’s first day of kindergarten. I panicked that I didn’t have enough the evening before the first day of school, and drove out to a local vegetable stand to buy just one more thing that I could add to complete that lunch! We’re in a great routine with school lunches now – we know how many snacks our girls will eat in a day, and we know what their individual preferences are.

Some Guidelines:

  1. Keep it simple. Apples and bananas are great snacks! Don’t fool yourself into thinking that snacks have to be fancy looking.
  2. Avoid any prepackaged or processed snacks. Not only are they often full of sugar, preservatives, and artificial colours, but they are also very expensive, and create more garbage waste.
  3. Include a rainbow of colours. This will ensure that they are getting a wide variety of nutrients and vitamins from their food.
  4. Introduce one new snack at a time. A complete overhaul all at once would be a shock to anyone’s system. Take it slow.
  5. If including a juice box, ensure that it is labelled 100% juice. Most juice boxes are laden with sugar, added flavour, and food colouring.
  6. Educate your kids about how healthy their lunch is, and why this is important for their growing bodies and learning minds. They do understand!

School Lunch Inspiration – what to include:

1 main item such as:

  • Hummus with corn chips or whole grain crackers to dip (they also love to dip their veggies in hummus).
  • Guacamole with corn chips or whole grain crackers to dip.
  • Leftovers kept warm in a thermos such as: stew, soup, pasta, casserole
  • A sandwich – egg salad, tuna salad, sunflower seed butter & jam etc.

As well as 3 snacks which can include:

  • 1 piece of fruit such as: An apple (sliced with an apple slicer, held together with a rubber band and put into a reusable plastic bag), a banana, a clementine orange (or slices of a navel orange), grapes, melons, or berries.
  • 1 veggie such as: Cucumber slices, carrot sticks or baby carrots, grape or cherry tomatoes, sweet pepper slices, or celery sticks.
  • 1 “fun” snack such as: Homemade granola bars (nut , dairy and gluten free), homemade muffins (sweetened with honey), trail mix (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, gluten free cereal, raisins), or homemade cookies (sweetened with honey). With the exception of the trail mix, I make these snacks ahead in large batches and freeze them so that when we’re packing lunches in the morning we just pull them out and they are ready to go!

school lunch

I hope these ideas inspire you as you strive to provide your kids with nutritious, simple lunches that they will enjoy! (Don’t forget to click on the links in the text above for the yummy recipes that I’ve shared in earlier posts.)

What are some healthy school lunch ideas that your kids love? Please share with us!

Karen

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25 4 & 5

 

School Lunch Ideas – Installment #3 Guacamole!

I can still remember my attempt at making guacamole when I returned home after a three month stay in Guatemala. I fell in love with guacamole while I was there, and my first attempt to create that yumminess failed miserably! I had the recipe from my host mom in Guatemala which was so good, but my problem was that I was so unfamiliar with using avocados that I attempted to make guacamole with avocados that were rock hard…. oops. Somehow I was unable to mash those babies up. I was determined to master the art of guacamole making, so I found out how to tell when an avocado was ripe: it needs to feel slightly soft to the touch when you apply a small amount of pressure (you can buy them when they are hard and just let them ripen up at room temperature which usually takes 2-3 days).

Avocados are a super food. They have a large amount of good monounsaturated fat, which has actually been shown in a preliminary study to lower blood cholesterol levels. Avocados have more potassium than bananas, and are rich in B vitamins, as well as vitamin E and vitamin K. And to boot, they are high in fiber! (Wikipedia). This is a seriously nutritious food to pack in your kids school lunches, and it’s a hit with my kiddos – they can’t get enough of this dip!

This isn’t the exact recipe that I was given from my host mom – I simplified it a bit, but go ahead and be creative!

guacamole ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guacamole

  • 5 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • Juice of two limes
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Optional: diced tomatoes, cilantro, finely diced onion, crushed garlic
  1. Mash up avocados until they are nice and creamy.
  2. Add other ingredients and stir – Voila!

guacamole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This doesn’t last overly long without getting brown, but if you make a quick batch in the morning and pack it in a container for lunch, it will still be awesome when eaten that day. My kids like to take this to school as a sandwich alternative with some corn chips or rice crackers to dip into it. It is also so yummy as a topping on tacos, fajitas and burgers. I hope you enjoy this healthy school lunch idea!

eating guacamole