Easy School Lunch Ideas for Busy Parents
School Lunch Ideas
Without a doubt, packing school lunches daily is something most of us parents dread during the school year. Mornings are hectic enough with getting the kids out the door and adding packing a healthy lunch to the mix is often the last thing we want to do.
The truth is that our kids need a balanced lunch to fuel them for learning and there’s no better way to get the job done than thinking just a little bit ahead. With that in mind, here are some of my top tips for packing school lunches that will make weekday mornings a breeze!
What to pack in lunches for kids
Packing lunches is a delicate balancing act! You want something high in nutrition, something easy to eat quickly and something simple to prep ahead of time. Naturally, since you won’t be with your child during lunchtime to monitor what’s actually eaten, packing food they’ll enjoy is a must!
A well-balanced lunchbox should have a protein, a fruit or vegetable, a grain and extra water to help “wash everything down.”
When I first started packing lunches for my kids, I kept it simple with the original MOMables. My kids loved the pre-packed boxes you can find in the store, but I was not a fan of the long list of ingredients. This was the moment MOMables was born. I’d pack our lunchboxes with cheese cubes, some natural lunch meat, sliced fruit and a hard-boiled egg. My kids loved getting to piece together their own lunches, and we just got more creative from there.
Lunch Solutions for Picky Eaters
When you have picky eaters, it can be a challenge to create lunches that they are willing to eat, without falling back on the same old PB&J every day of the week. For my picky eaters, I’ll often pack the flavors they love – served up in creative ways.
One of my kids can never get enough pizza, so once a week I use some leftover cooked pasta, partnered with mozzarella cheese, slices of pepperoni and other pizza toppings and he’s got his pizza. This way, he is exploring new food textures and trying something fresh, but he’s still getting the cheese and pepperoni flavors that he loves.
Veggie Mac & Cheese
If your child is obsessed with Macaroni and Cheese (aren’t we all?) simply puree some cauliflower and stir it in with the cheese mixture. This is a simple way to hide a veggie in your picky eater’s lunchbox and still send them off to school with a meal that they will complete with no fuss.
Tomato Soup & Grilled Dippers
For this idea you’ll need to pack lunch in a thermos. I love using thermoses when packing lunches for my kids because it means I can use up old dinner leftovers, and they will stay warm at school until lunchtime. Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Dippers is always a huge hit for every one of my kids. Start by packing a thermos with tomato soup. I have a special recipe that includes some hidden veggies, but you can use your favorite soup that the kids already know and love. Next, prepare your grilled cheese. I always like to cut the sandwich into strips, which makes them easily dippable at the lunch table. Plus, kids love getting sandwich strips in their lunchbox. It even helps them eat the crust more than they usually would. Baby steps!
If you need a little extra help encouraging your picky eaters to eat, I want to share my Picky Eater’s Course (P.E.A.S. for short) with you. It’s an organized system that tackles all areas of picky eating so you can teach your child to like new foods and create meals your whole family can enjoy. I worked with experts to solve the picky eating problem in my house, and in this course I share everything I learned and implemented with my own kids. Best of all, so many families have gone through the course already and seen their picky eaters start trying new foods.
There’s even a whole section on lunchtime, which incorporates simple ways to make lunch easier, while also encouraging your picky eater to try new foods. Check out the course here!
Laura Fuentes is is the founder of MOMables.com where she transforms mealtimes by helping parents eliminate processed foods and added sugars from their family’s diet. She does that with organized meal plans, her Family KickStart Program, recipe videos on her YouTube Channel and more. Laura is the author of 4 cookbooks, has competed (and won!) on Food Network, has appeared on Today, Good Morning America, and many other media outlets. Her most important job, however, is being a wife and mom.
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This post originally appeared on our July/August 2019 Magazine