For growing bodies and busy kids, balanced lunch is key to staying focused in class and performing well in after-school activities.
As much as the start of a new school year brings hope for slow, productive mornings, that usually wears off after a week, which leads to a disappointing school lunch or a slapped-together peanut butter and jelly sandwich that’s smashed by lunchtime.
I was vegetarian all through high school and though things might have changed in the last five years, options were limited to cheese pizza, nachos, wilted lettuce from the salad bar or a cheese sandwich.
If your child has special dietary needs or can’t keep meat cold until lunchtime (shoutout to all of the teachers who let me use their mini refrigerators), there are a some healthy packable lunches that are easy to toss together. Before you get started, remember:
- Pack as much as you can the night before. You won’t be as stressed in the morning trying to pack lunch while you’re running behind or tired.
- Get the right gear. Lunch is always more fun when you’ve got something fun to tote it in. Keep snacks separate in a bento box, sealable lunch tray or insulated box that works for you.
- Keep a running list of staple items. That way, it’s never a surprise in the morning when you’re out of lunch ingredients and have to improvise.
FRUIT AND NUT POWER BOX
You can prepare a few of these lunches on a Sunday afternoon so it’s taken care of for the week. If your child has nut allergies, substitute edamame or green beans.
- Single serving cheese wedge (or hummus for non-dairy option)
- Wheat crackers
- Handful of whole almonds
- Sliced strawberries and handful of blueberries
- Pack ingredients in individual containers or in a bento box/tray with separate compartments. Keep cheese cold with an ice pack.
SPICY BEAN AND GUACAMOLE BURRITOS
From Fitness Magazine.
Protein from the beans and fat from the avocado will keep kids full and focused for the second half of the day.
- ½ cup canned, low-fat refried beans
- ¼ cup salsa
- 3 tbsp. prepared guacamole, or homemade with this recipe
- 1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
- 2 small whole grain tortillas
- 1 cup red grapes
- Stir beans and salsa. Microwave the mixture for two minutes and spread in tortilla. Add guacamole, lettuce and roll. Eat grapes on the side.
CHICKPEA SALAD SANDWICH
From Simple Veganista.
Sandwiches are an easy and fast lunch option, but standard peanut butter and jelly can get old fast.
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup celery, sliced
- ½ cup carrots, diced
- ¼ cup scallions, sliced
- ¼ cup mayonnaise or hummus
- Sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste
- Dash garlic powder
- Paprika for garnish
- Mash all chickpea ingredients. Keep off of bread until lunchtime. Spread on slice of wheat bread and add optional lettuce and tomato. Top with another piece of bread.