If you haven’t sent your little ones back to school yet, you will be soon, which brings up the all important question: what are you going to feed them for lunch?
I have been hearing lots about back to school lunches lately. I’ve read magazine articles, I’ve heard news reports on the radio, I’ve even seen stories on the national news, all focused on healthy school lunches.
“Healthy” is certainly a matter of opinion, these days more than ever. The vegan next door thinks she’s the healthiest, the low fat dieter believes that’s the only way, I think our paleo diet is the best, so that’s not what I’m here to debate. I’m simply here to give you some ideas about what to send in the kiddos’ lunch boxes that will keep their little brains and bodies functioning well through the school day.
If you’re reading here, I assume you are following at least a gluten free diet, and most likely need to send peanut free lunches. Everything I suggest will meet those criteria. And honestly, it’s really pretty simple. Once you train your brain to think outside the peanut butter and jelly sandwich box, putting together a healthy and totally paleo lunch is simpler than your standard lunch.
The so-called health experts who like to tell us what to do all the time have come up with some really great sounding recipes to send with your kids for lunch: ham and cheese muffins, cinnamon roll bites, pasta salad in a jar. All that sound just lovely, but I have all I can handle cooking dinner each night and making sure we have food for breakfast and lunch that the kids and husband can prepare themselves. I am not cooking lunches too. Period.
So here’s what I’d do if I were packing lunches each day. And lest you think I have no experience with this since we homeschool, these meal ideas are what my kids do eat each and every day. We just eat it at home. But we do pack our lunches a good bit as we go on field trips, meet friends at a park or sometimes just when we have lots of errands to run. It’s easier to have lunch on hand that find yourself with starving kids and need to run through a fast food drive thru. What you see below has been tested and tried and my kids will eat these foods every time without fuss.
A typical kid lunch plate in my house looks like this:
- lunch meat, usually ham (I buy a deli brand with no preservatives, nitrates, nitrites, soy, gluten, etc.), sometimes turkey, roast beef or even bologna. I mix it up.
- cheese, sometimes string, sometimes slice (they don’t get cheese every day)
- baby carrots
- apple slices (or banana or berries or peach – whatever’s in season)
- some green leaves, spinach is their favorite
- chips – our favorite brand is Boulder, who makes avocado oil and coconut oil chips, both yummy and gluten free varieties are available
- occasionally a sweet treat like a small piece of chocolate (Altar Eco brand is soy free and so delicious) or one of my cookies
Now, if you just have to get all fancy, then by all means, don’t cook just for lunch, but do plan ahead when you’re making dinner and make extras for lunches. Some of my recipes that are particularly well-suited to lunch time are:
New and Improved AIP tortillas (use these like bread for rollups or quesadillas)
Sure, you can spend a lot of time making fancy lunches for your kids, but in my experience, what they like best are separate foods. What I mean is, most kids would rather eat some chicken, some carrots, some spinach, maybe with a little dip or sauce than a fancy chicken veggie muffin you might whip up. Save yourself the trouble and heartache and just get a nice lunch container like this one:
Then fill each little compartment with protein, fruit, veggies and something snacky like chips or nuts and a few chocolate chips. Bam! Lunch is done. It’s quick, easy and kids love it. They can even make it themselves!
If you’d like to try my paleo cookies in smaller sizes for your smaller people’s lunches, just add a note to your order in the cookie shop and I’ll make petite sized cookies for you.
I hope your school year gets off to a great start!