Sunday, August 24, 2014

Healthy School Lunch Ideas

Last school year I did a blog post on school lunches your kids can pack themselves.  This started out great. The kids loved making choices and I loved that, except for a sandwich, I didn't have to 'make' lunches.  After awhile, I discovered a few problems with our system.  1) The kids got bored with the choices. 2) Buying pre-packaged snacks got pricey and wasteful. 3) I always felt guilty that they were not eating enough fresh foods in their lunches.  A few months into this system, I went to bento box type lunches for the kids. They loved them, but it was very time consuming each night.

This year I'm changing things up a bit. It's basically the same idea I posted last year, but with fresh choices. This takes a little more prep time (about an hour), but it's worth it knowing my kids are eating healthier options that they like.

I am still using lunch bins that they can choose from. I take them out every morning and choose what they want from each bin.
Main Course (Bin 1)
This week, for the "main course" I made wraps and froze them.  I pop one in each lunch box before school, and by lunchtime, they are thawed.  I have 3 kids so I made 15 wraps.

For other main courses I plan on making a variety of sandwiches and subs, pasta salads with added protein, chicken salad, and sometimes dinner leftovers of their favorite dinners.
I bought these containers on Amazon for $13.99 for 40 for non-sandwich items.  They are 8 oz deli containers. Perfect size for a lunch.  I like these because they are re-usable, but if a kid accidentally throws one away, it's not that big of a deal.

Fruits and Veggies (Bin 2)
I make them choose 2 out of this bin.  This week I have cut broccoli, mini-carrots, strawberries, apple slices, and yogurt.  To keep the apples fresh, I soak them in pineapple juice before bagging them.  This tastes better than lemon juice. The yogurt can be used as a dip for the fruit.

Other items I plan on putting in this bin are : string cheese, various berries, orange slices, grapes, melons, sliced peppers, sugar snap peas, and celery.
 I made veggie dip out of Greek yogurt and used smaller containers that I also purchased on Amazon. I have to tell them to take only one because my daughter would take SIX.

Treat Bin (Bin 3)
This last bin contains treats that they like. This week they have mini-cheddar rice cakes, peanut butter filled pretzels, whole wheat fig newtons, and fudge stripe cookies. I have them take only one of these, because they would take ALL of them.  I know I would. My lunch would be all Fudge Stripes.

My other plans for this bin include: beef jerky, trail mix, cookies, yogurt covered raisins, dried fruit, brownies, tortilla chips and salsa, etc...

I make only 15 of the main course.The other two bins will have extras so they can have a snack for sports and other after school activities.  The kids really enjoy choosing their own lunches and I feel better about giving them healthier choices.  If you have some ideas I could add to my bins, please let me know in the comments.

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