It’s back to school season which means many of us parents are scrambling to figure out “what do I (or my kids) pack for school lunch?” I (Caitlyn) am honored, excited, and overwhelmed joining for the first time the rank of parents and caregivers that are packing up their little lovebugs and sending them off to school! Whether school is a car drive a way, the destination of the sea of school buses, or across the kitchen table, back to school season requires some prep.
With school starting last week for my kiddo, I’ve been in the thick of washing school clothes, packing his backpack, and planning lunches. This week I want to share with you my round up of healthy school lunch ideas. Below you’ll find a couple Living Wellness original recipes and a bunch of links to other websites. Bookmark your favorites for later! I'd also love for you to share in the comments below your favorite school lunch ideas.
Organize Your List
Before we get to the recipes, I want to share with you one trick I’ve started doing to help me with organize all these wonderful lunch ideas. I created a little back-to-school menu of possible 1) main dish ideas, 2) side dish ideas, and 3) snack ideas. This way, I can quickly scan my list before I head to the grocery store, so I know exactly what to get for the week. This list is also a life-saver when packing lunches the night before or morning of.
- Put the list in a page protector and place it on the fridge or pantry door
- Use a wet erase markers to circle the foods you purchased or made for that week
- Or write the day of week next to the food item so you or your kiddo knows what to pack when
- Consider making a separate list for kiddos to reference for after school snacks. This may help you to know what foods to prep for the week to encourage healthy food choices AND may help prevent kiddos from binging on the first snack they see when they’re hungry after school. A list of options might be just the thing to encourage healthy after-school eating habits.
Before adding any items to your list, consider what your goals are for school lunches. There are a million goals you could have, but what do you want to focus on. Here are a few of mine:
- Follow the rules set by my son's school :) I had no idea there were so many rules about what has to be included in a school lunch.
- Shoot for 2 veggies per lunch if possible and only serve veggies I know he likes (not worth surprising him with something he might not like and then waste the food)
- Try for 1 or more fermented foods. This is tough for us because my son hasn't branched out to eating fermented foods other than pickles and yogurt, but that's a start!
- Pack quick to eat, minimal mess foods so I know he'll eat as much of his lunch as he can without wearing half of it (did I mention he's only 4 :), still may apply for your older kiddo)
- Serve foods that fit our food values (whole food, minimally processed, organic if possible)
- Serve foods that might be similar to what his classmates are eating. The last thing I want is to have my kiddo feel singled out for eating his home-made lunch if its waaaay different than his peers.
Without further ado, here’s my round up of 100+ Back-to-School Lunch Ideas.
Fermented Foods Ideas:
Paleo/Gluten Free Lunch Ideas:
- Pre-order Danielle Walker's new book Eat What You Love now and you'll get access to her Packed Lunch Bonus Chapter!
- Veggies You Never Thought You'd Love: Sweet Potato Fries
- Veggies You Never Thought You'd Love: Pumpkin Chocolate Brownie Muffins (GF)
General Lunch Ideas:
- The Days of Boring Lunches are Gone!
- "Cheesy" Lentil Macaroni
- 3 Nutrition Tips for Your Back-to-School Routine
- 15 Budget and Kid-Friendly Super Foods + FREE Printable
Other great reads about kids and healthy eating!
- Eating Healthy on a Budget
Caitlyn J. Hanson
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any illnesses or disease. Please always check with your doctor before beginning any new nutritional or fitness program or before making any nutritional/fitness changes.