Healthy School Lunches for Happy, Healthy Kids

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Wanting some tips for preparing lunches for your kids to take to school?

Is it time to shake up those school lunches a bit?  Get out of the “hum-drum” of the standard turkey sandwich.  Making healthy, nutritious lunches for your kids is a breeze!  And, don’t feel like YOU have to do it all!  Let them help.  They are capable of a lot more than you think!  All of these meals can be prepped the night before and packaged with an ice pack the next morning.

Remember to include water with their lunch.  Water is super important for optimal brain function throughout the day and we all want our kids to be set up for success as they tackle their studies!


Chicken Salad Lunch

I like to use the organic canned chicken breast for this, but you could certainly prep your chicken at home or use a rotisserie chicken.  If you use a 5 oz. can of chicken salad, you may very well have enough left over to use for the next day or for the afternoon when your child gets home from school.

Chicken Salad

  • 1 c. organic canned chicken breast
  • 6-8 red grapes (cut up, at least in halves)
  • 1 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp – 1 tsp. Dijon mustard (depending on taste preference)

As a rough guide, for elementary age kiddos, use 3 oz. of the chicken salad in their meal and 5 oz. for middle school and older.

Serve with 7-8 snack sized whole grain melba toast and grape/cherry tomatoes or baby carrots.  For kids with a bigger appetite, add a piece of fruit.  I like the small organic gala apples, small granny smith apples or clementines…. the size suits most kids well and it’s a great compliment to the lunch.


Make-your-own Lunch Kit

No need to get those packaged Lunchables at the grocery store.  You can make your own for A LOT LESS! And your kids can join in the fun of prepping their lunches.
  • 7-8 snack size whole grain Melba toast
  • 2 oz. cheese (I prefer organic dairy products, so I like to use organic mild cheddar or organic mozzarella)
  • 2 oz. ham or turkey (again, I prefer organic turkey breast as well as the natural, nitrate-free ham)
  • 1-2 baby cucumbers
  • 1 c. strawberries or red grapes (or a little bit of both)

Remember to include water with their lunch.  Water is super important for optimal brain function throughout the day and we all want our kids to be set up for success as they tackle their studies!


Terrific Tuna Salad

This tangy tuna salad puts a spin on the traditional mayo dressing.  We spice it up with some dijon mustard and tangy Greek yogurt!
  • 1 c. canned tuna (canned in water), 5 oz.
  • 1 Tbsp. dried cranberries chopped up
  • 1.5 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. rice vinegar

Serve with 1 whole grain pita pocket, and 8-12 baby carrots.  If it takes a “dipping sauce” to get your kiddos to eat veggies, don’t stress.  Adding 2 Tbsp. ranch dressing (I like to get the organic kind) is totally fine.  The important thing is to get your children started on adding these into their day… as they get older, they will find less and less need for the dips.


Chef Salad Gets “Schooled”!

My daughter LOVES salads, but I can’t very well send her to school with only a salad.  So, what you put on your child’s salad and what you accompany the salad with is really important.  Be sure to cut up the salad pieces so that they are manageable for those little mouths.

The salad:

  • 1 c. spring mix
  • 1 c. romaine
  • 1/2 c. grape tomatoes (cut in half)
  • 1 baby cucumber (sliced)
  • 2 baby carrots sliced
  • 1 hard boiled egg (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 oz. sliced ham or turkey/chicken breast (I get the best quality possible at our local store)
  • 2 Tbsp. dressing (perhaps a balsamic vinaigrette or olive oil vinaigrette or even Ranch dressing)

[keep the dressing in a separate container so that it doesn’t make the salad soggy]

While this lunch is loaded with veggies, it also has great sources of protein because of the added egg, cheese and ham/turkey.  So, now all we need to do is add some healthy carbohydrates to it!   We can do that with a nice piece of fruit… banana, 3/4 c.-1 c. red grapes, 1 c. strawberries.  YUM!!!


Healthy PB&J or AB&J

My son loves PB&J sandwiches.  He would eat them for every meal… given the opportunity (which he isn’t).  So, because he loves them, we do our best to make them as healthy as possible for him.
  • 2 slices whole grain bread
  • 2 tbsp. natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1 tbsp. all-fruit 100% fruit spread

Since the nut butter is not a super protein source, we add yogurt to the meal.  While there certainly are “healthier” yogurt tubes out there, you could opt for 4 oz. plain Greek yogurt with 1/4 c. chopped strawberries and 1 tsp. honey.  Stir it together and you’ve made your own healthy yogurt without all of the additives!  If yogurt isn’t on your list, you can also opt for a side of fruit and a mozzarella string cheese stick to round things out.  And, of course, we can’t forget a veggie!  Maybe some baby carrots, sugar snap peas, baby cucumbers or grape tomatoes.  And, don’t forget… if you have to add a little dressing as dipping sauce, go for it!

 

Enjoy!

Comments

  1. Maurine Fisher on August 25, 2015 at 1:10 am said:

    I am sure so many mothers with school-age children are loving your post and so thankful for the ideas. Even though I am well past school-age, I am going to enjoy taking a few of these to work with me. Looking forward to more ideas.

  2. Tracy Thompson on August 25, 2015 at 1:50 pm said:

    You are AWESOME!!!!! :0)

  3. Laurie Siegmund on August 25, 2015 at 6:31 pm said:

    These all look great. I have another tuna salad recipe that you would love.. I’ll message it to you 🙂

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