How Can You Pack a School Lunch in a Healthy Way
Cheap and healthy lunch for kids – is this even possible? The experts from Healthline and Wellness Mama claim that with a little planning you will be able to learn how to pack the healthy school lunches for your child, even if you are a working parent and have no much time in the morning.
The expert tips for planning a school lunch menu
Let’s be honest, in most cases, the school food that your child has to eat is far from perfection. However, instead of giving your kid money for an unhealthy lunch, you can try using the following quick tips for packing a healthy, homemade school lunch box for your child:
Consider planning your own “school lunch program” ahead. The morning rush can make you give money instead of making healthy snacks for school. That is why you need to shop on Sunday and then plan the healthy meals for kids, including school lunches, for a whole week. If you want your child to eat tasty, healthy and fresh meals at school, for example, you can cook and prepare these foods before going to sleep, during the evening:
- Cooked rice;
- Cooked ground meat;
- Hard-boiled eggs;
- Pre-sliced carrots, apples, pears, etc;
- Cooked pasta.
In the morning, before school, you just need to warm up these meals and pack them in a lunchbox.
Always pack the fruits and veggies
Most nutritionists recommend the children of school and pre-school age eating no less than 5-10 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables daily. That is why make sure to stuff that a lunch box with any cut fruit or veggies. If your kid is hungry, he or she will eat these slices for sure! Keep in mind when picking between homemade cookies or fruits/veggies, the latest ones are the best school lunch ideas for kids of any age.
Make the lunch interesting
However, if your little child doesn’t want to eat carrots or fruits, you can try making the lunch look fun. Fun to look means more fun to eat – at least, for a kid. For instance, you can make a funny figure out of cut fruits and veggies. Or buy one of those fancy lunch boxes that can press the cool designs onto the sandwiches inside them. Be creative and your child will enjoy eating the foods that look in a funny way.
Another trick of packing a school lunch box is to include a few sweets like several M&Ms, 1 cookie or 1 chocolate piece. Make sure you that you use a reusable container. Always check what you kid ate at school – if only the sweets were eaten, take them away and replace with a few slices of fruits and veggies.
The budget-friendly school lunch ideas
If it is important for you to cut the school lunch budget and, at the same time, you seek the healthy lunch ideas for school, there are a few smart solutions offered by Wellness Mama that can save your day:
- Surprisingly, tacos can be the best healthy school snacks for kids, if you prepare them from taco shells, cheese, cooked ground meat, and shredded lettuce;
- Chicken broth heated in a microwave for 2 minutes and then poured into a thermos can be a great idea for more grown-up children who won’t spill it during a school lunch. If you are a fan of vegetarian foods, you can replace chicken broth with any veggie soup and cooked tofu slices;
- The good old PBB hand roll. Take peanut butter, honey, and sliced banana – roll all these ingredients in a tortilla. In the end, wrap this roll in foil;
- Make a pasta salad may also serve as one of the most affordable lunch ideas for school. You may cover pasta salad with the frozen veggie mix, olive oil, seasoning, etc. Put in a microwave for 2 minutes, then pack in a lunch box;
- Cook a few healthy pizza bagels. Take a bagel and spread tomato sauce over it, then sprinkle with cheese. Before wrapping in foil put these bagels in a toaster oven;
- Use pita pockets. You can stuff them with lettuce, low-sodium meat, cucumbers, spinach, or any other veggie that your kid adores. For a sweet tooth, you may add a few sliced apples or strawberries;
- Prepare a healthy and delicious salad. Try layering the cut cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese and carrots, sliced cucumbers and hard-boiled eggs, corn kernels, raisins, and canned beans over shredded lettuce with a bit of salad dressing. Your kid may shake this mix or pick different components and then dip in the favorite sauce.
Also, don’t forget to pack the cut fruit, carrots, celery, or pretzels for dessert. Voila, you got a healthy, budget-friendly, and delicious school lunch that your kid will love!
3 easy school lunches for a working parent
Being a working parent is not a curse or excuse for feeding your child in an unhealthy way. Yes, you need to put more effort than non-working moms and dads, but, still, it is possible to prepare a healthy and cheap school lunch. Here is how you can do this:
Every day, try making different healthy sandwiches for your kid. They are easy to prepare even if you have only 5 minutes for making a lunch. Besides, shoving the half-eaten sandwiches back to school lunch boxes can be done even by a small kid. You can make healthy sandwiches for a school lunch in such way:
- Experiment with different healthy breads like the low-saturated types, whole-wheat tortilla wraps, pita pockets, taco shells, etc;
- Lettuce and tomatoes are the basic components for any sandwiches. Also, you may try adding shredded zucchini and carrots, sliced pears and apples. These ingredients can be good with a turkey sandwich;
- Instead of cheese and mayonnaise, try using hummus or avocado for salad dressing.
Use the leftovers
If you have managed to prepare a healthy supper for your kids and there are some leftovers in your fridge, don’t hesitate to use them for a lunch. Use a thermos for soups or liquid foods to keep them hot or cold. Some healthy school lunch ideas that you can apply:
- Soups –beans, tomatoes, vegetables;
- Bean or bean-and-rice casserole;
- Spaghetti (opt for whole wheat with the pesto or marinara sauce);
- Vegetarian chili (with lean ground chicken).
Opt for fruits/veggies that are good with any dips
Even not very healthy dips can be compensated if your child dips fruits and veggies into them. Ask your child what dips he or she likes and offer to dip “not tasty” snacks into them. Here are a few delicious, nutritious, and healthy combos that you can try:
- Peanut butter or low-fat plain yogurt can be a good dip for pears and apples;
- Hummus, salsa, or homemade bean dip – for celery, carrots, and sweet pepper slices;
- Soup for whole-grain, low-sodium crackers or sliced tofu.
As you can see, there are multiple ways of preparing healthy snacks for a school lunch. Your child may reject the first meals, but if you are persistent enough, the perfect combination for a healthy school lunch will be found sooner or later.