FUN AND HEALTHY LUNCHES YOUR KIDS WILL ACTUALLY EAT
Wouldn’t it be great if you could pack fun and healthy lunches every morning to send with your kids to school and every afternoon they would jump into the carpool smiling and say, “Thanks Mom! My lunch was great!”
Well, maybe those perfect TV families of the 50’s and 60’s got that response, but it’s no surprise that meal times are some of the most stressful times in daily family life.
My sister claimed that meal time was the worst part of her day. She had one child that only ate hamburgers and pizza, and only from certain carry-out restaurants. Her husband wanted meat and potatoes every night and her other child had a strict diet of sausage patties and dry Honeycomb cereal. (The stress of that often left her with a glass of wine!)
With those parameters, making school lunches was quite the challenge.
A little mom-ingenuity can fix most anything. Take a look at some of these suggestions for fun AND healthy lunches to see if you can inspire your lunch duty instead of dread it.
Food On Sticks!
This simple twist turns an ordinary lunch into a fun one but still using the same healthy ingredients. Some kids just need to look at their food in a way that is fun to be encouraged them try healthy choices.
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Mini Burgers On a Stick
This is a fun lunch for kids that is nice for a little treat, but is still a nutritious and well-balanced lunch. When done right, the mini burgers contain protein, fiber, vegetables, fruit, and carbohydrates; everything your child needs for a healthy lunch.
Make mini hamburger patties with ground beef or turkey. (Ground turkey is healthier and with the right seasoning, can taste a lot like beef.)
You can cut up the smaller patty into cubes if you like. Take a skewer and alternate with your pieces of hamburger patty, and toppings like lettuce, tomato, pickles, and cheese.
Sandwich Without a Bun
Another fun and healthy lunch is a sandwich without a bun.
You are essentially using all the ingredients of your sandwich to be placed on the stick, similar to a hamburger on a stick.
Start by skewering folded slices of turkey or ham and alternate cubes of cheese, cherry tomato, and chunks of lettuce.
You can also “weave” the cold cuts in between the vegetables and give it a different spin to a fun and healthy lunch.
Fruit and Cheese
Food on sticks don’t always need to be the main course for lunch. They can be a little snack or side dish in the lunch, such as taking skewers and putting on different types of fruit and cheese. Fruit like cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, apples, and berries all work great for this type of snack.
Healthy, colorful fruit bites threaded on a skewer and served with a yogurt dip can reform a picky eater
Sandwich Wraps Kids Will Love
If you want to make your child a lunch that is yummy, but not another boring sandwich, a wrap is a great alternative.
You can control carbs and calories by using one of the many kinds of tortillas on the market – some have vegetables like tomatoes or spinach in the dough, giving you the fun and healthy lunch requirement just by being in color!
Here are some kid-friendly wraps to consider making.
Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Banana
This is a wrap that isn’t too different from your kids’ favorite PB&J, but you can sneak in a little extra nutrition on the sly.
You can use any type of tortilla you like, plain flour tortilla, veggie or a low-carb version.
You can spread some peanut butter on the inside, add some sugar-free jelly or jam, then add sliced banana. Roll it up, and it’s good to go!
Kids love the taste of the PB&J, so they won’t notice if you use homemade jelly with no sugar added and naturally sweet sliced bananas.
Taco in a Tortilla
What kid doesn’t love tacos?
Some fun and healthy ideas: Shredded chicken, ground beef or turkey, even fish can come alive with something tasty like taco seasoning, salsa and something to give it a little crunch, pickles, crisp greens or even mild peppers. That’s a 10 on the fun and healthy lunch scale.
Chef’s Salad Wrap
A wrap can also contain ingredients that would have gone in a salad, but you put in a tortilla instead.
Your might know that your kid loves salad, but doesn’t want to take that in the cafeteria with their friends.
Make is a fun and healthy lunch with the ingredients of a salad inside a tortilla as a wrap. For example, for a chef’s salad wrap, you might include lettuce, tomato, cheese, different luncheon meats, and pieces of hardboiled egg.
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Trying to force feed already picky eaters before school is a recipe for disaster. Try scrambled eggs, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, and either some tomato or a nice salsa.
If your kids give eggs the thumbs down, any combination of healthy food in the morning is a win. If they will eat a taco wrap for breakfast, it’s the nutrition that really counts.
Finger Foods Can Be Fun and Healthy for Lunch
As you start planning for your kids’ lunches, try to think of foods that are also easy for them to eat. While soup and chicken dinners might seem great for you when you prepare your lunch with leftovers, these aren’t easy or convenient for kids to eat in the cafeteria.
Here are some healthy foods that are convenient for your kids, but also nutritious and delicious.
Fruits and Veggies
First of all, fruit and vegetables make the perfect finger foods for a kids’ lunch. You can easily chop, slice, and dice them into bite-size pieces where a kid of any age is going to find them a fun treat for lunch.
You can slice up fruit like cantaloupe, apples, watermelon, and honeydew melon so that they are easy to put in a compartment of the lunch box.
Veggies like carrots, celery, zucchini, broccoli, and cauliflower are also easy to cut up. Some veggies and fruits are already small enough to have as finger foods, such as berries, grapes, and cherry tomatoes.
Your kids’ lunch doesn’t always have to be a traditional lunch food. There are ways to give them finger foods that actually have breakfast components.
If breakfast foods are preferable for your little ones, you can make some little egg muffins by beating eggs and pouring them into little muffin tins. Bake the eggs with cubed ham or bacon, veggies and cheese, then put each muffin in the freezer individually-wrapped.
If you take them out and put them in your kids’ lunch boxes, they will be thawed by lunch time and ready to eat.
You can make mini pizzas for your kids lunches, but also make them in a healthier way. If you want your kids to stick to a paleo or low-carb diet, then you can make the pizza dough with a cauliflower crust. This is lower in fat and much more nutritious than a regular dough crust. Otherwise, consider getting some whole wheat dough and making mini pizzas, then in the lunch box, include ingredients like a lighter pizza sauce, cheese, and lots of veggies. This ends up being similar to a pizza Lunchables, but is a lot healthier.
Cheese and veggie quesadillas are a super fun and healthy lunch for little ones.
Bake the quesadilla so it is crispy, making sure there are plenty of veggies inside, not just cheese. Cut the cooked quesadilla into smaller pieces, and place it in their lunch box with some salsa. It is a fun and nutritious lunch for the kids.
REMEMBER THE GOAL!
You just want to give your kiddos the nutrition they need during the day so they can concentrate on learning, not on that empty feeling in their tummy.
Remember also that lunch time is social time and it can be kind of a “competition” to see who has the coolest lunch. By relying on a few props like skewers, bento boxes, tortillas and that always helpful “mom-genuity” you can make cool, fun and healthy lunches every day.