Healthy School Lunch Ideas for Back-To-School

As the new school year approaches, it’s time to think about what you will pack in your child’s lunches. Are your kids tired of the same old peanut butter and jelly routine? We’ve gathered some creative ideas to help make packing lunches healthy, fun and affordable.

Gone are the days of the boring, sack lunch with a sandwich, chips and cookie or unhealthy, expensive snack packs. It’s time to mix things up a bit! With a few inexpensive purchases, your child’s lunches will come to life again and they will be eating healthy without even realizing it!

  1. You have to have the right tools

Bento Boxes are the new and improved way to pack lunches. Bento Boxes are simply containers with at least 3 or more storage areas for food. These sectioned containers also help out with portion control. These are the same containers that many people are using for meal prep and they can be purchased inexpensively at Walmart, Target, Amazon and even the Dollar Store.

Silicone baking cups – Food instantly becomes more appealing in these cute, colorful, cups which serve to separate your lunch items.

Food picks or skewers (blunt ends) – Add fruit, veggies, meat or cheese to these kid friendly skewers to make kabobs. And let’s face it, even the most boring foods look enticing when a cute animal pick is placed on top!

Vegetable and Fruit Shaped Cutters and Melon Ballers – Kids will love opening their Bento Box to find mini shaped sandwiches, veggies and fruit. Of course, using cut up fruits and veggies is just fine. But kids will love eating heart shaped watermelon, kiwi stars and little balls of melon even more!

Small reusable cups with lids – These containers with lids are perfect for yogurt dips, sauces and hummus.

  1. Keep it simple– Follow this simple formula for each lunch- PVFCS – Include at least one of each of the following – Protein/Veggie/Fruit/Carb/Snack. Focus on whole foods and don’t worry about the usual sandwich and snack combo that we are all used to.

Here are some ideas to help you out:

Protein: Low-sodium deli meat, grilled chicken, turkey, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, cheese cubes or slices.

Vegetables: Cooked or fresh broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots or zucchini, celery sticks, bell pepper slices, cherry tomatoes.

Fruit: Strawberries, pineapple or mango chunks, blueberries, orange sections

Carbs: Rice, pasta, whole wheat bread for making a sandwich, quinoa, macaroni or oatmeal

Snacks: Popcorn, pretzels, fruit roll-ups, crackers, or dried fruit.

  1. Plan ahead to prepare extra portions and use leftovers- Prepare extra portions of your evening meals and pack leftovers into your child’s bento lunch the next day. Make a few extra muffins or use the leftover taco meat to make some tasty nachos. With a little planning you will find that it’s easy to prepare a healthy and tasty lunch that even your pickiest eaters will enjoy.
  1. Pack ahead of time– Keep everything organized together in one spot to make the process easier. Pack 2-3 days of lunches at a time so everything stays fresh and you get a break from having to pack lunches every day.
  2. Look for Bento Box inspiration online- Here are a few places to get you started:

Google– Bento Box lunches for kids. Bento Boxes are a hot topic for many mom bloggers

Youtube: There are several youtubers that post a variety of ideas for Bento Boxes.

Pinterest: There are lots of pictures and inspiration here. Remember to keep it simple!

For even more ideas on how to prepare healthy items for your child’s lunch, attend the Healthy Living Cooking Demo on September 29th, 2018 at Club Rancho Sahuarita. Staff nutritionist, Sarah Marrs will be featuring healthy recipes that will be a perfect addition to your child’s Bento Box. Residents are invited to attend this event and will have the opportunity to try each of the recipes created and bring home a printed copy of the recipe so that you can easily recreate it at home. We look forward to seeing you there!

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