The past 18-months have brought a lot of changes to our day-to-day lives. Many of us have started to experience a lot more flexibility with our work schedules. Instead of packing a lunch every day, we can instead make the short walk to the kitchen at noon to prep whatever we feel like. Our children may have been experiencing some of the same flexibility. With schools reopening this fall, we will have to reconsider how we feed our kids with on-the-go options. Packing a school lunch can be an opportunity for creativity and inspiration, but it can also be a challenge to find options for your kiddos that are balanced.
School Lunches – how healthy are they?
First, let’s dive into the traditional lunches served in our kids’ schools. In 2012 the standards for school lunches were updated for the first time in 15 years, requiring cafeterias to offer more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.. While these guidelines are a little outdated, school lunches are a great choice for busy parents who are looking for an alternative, affordable options to add to their weekly lunch line-up. For all those who are looking to put a little extra TLC into their child’s lunchbox, we have you covered with easy and healthy kid-approved options you can add to your rotation this fall.
Basic Lunch Ideas
From allergies and dietary restrictions to picky eaters, we’ve seen it all! We’ve got you covered with inspiration to get you started this school year and tips and tricks on meal prep for the whole family.
- Start with the basics — real food: Pack your kids’ lunch boxes with high-quality protein, healthy fats (like avocados and nuts), veggies, and fruits. We love the way Mama Natural divides meals into compartmentalized bento boxes, designed to keep foods separate and picky eaters happy!
- Plan it out: Just as you would for your own meal prep, before you head to the grocery store, think about what you are going to prepare for lunch during the week. Another idea we love – make dinners that can be repurposed into a healthy lunch. Focus on what will pack well and taste yummy cold.
- Keep it simple: You don’t have to try to be a gourmet chef. Keep it simple with ingredients like deli turkey, carrot sticks, fresh berries, and nut butters, especially if you’re crunched for time. Nutrient-dense, tasty foods don’t always have to take hours to prepare.
- Find a buddy: We get it, it’s really hard to feel inspired every week! Find a friend (IRL or online) and share lunch box selfies. If you live in close proximity you can also split up some of the meal prep – whip up a big batch of muffins or granola to share!
- Involve your kids: If you really want to make sure they are eating well at school, you have to first make sure they are eating, period! Talk to them about what they are excited to find in their lunch box and then strike a balance between what is healthy and what they will actually eat.
Healthy Lunch-Box Options
Our team at Snap knows a little something about delicious, nutritious food. Below we’ve shared a few examples of easy, healthy, lunch box options to get you started!
- Snacks like vegetables with hummus, popcorn, full-fat dairy, and roasted chickpeas help keep your kids’ bellies full with healthy fats and fiber.
- Fruits are a great way to add a little sweet treat to a meal. To help balance their blood sugar and keep them focused throughout the day, always pair their fruit with healthy fat like nut butter or full-fat cheese. Here at Snap, we love berries because of their high fiber and antioxidant content.
- Protein is essential, especially in children, and chances are your child is likely not getting enough! Protein is crucial for everything from muscle strength and repair to boosting metabolism. These days, there’s an abundance of both plant and animal protein options available. Choose meat and poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, peas, and nuts and seeds.
- Preparing full recipes ahead of time like this chicken soup, Asian stir-fry or any of these lunch meal ideas allows you to pack a real meal into your child’s lunch box. This is an especially good option if your little one has gotten used to having a home-cooked meal at lunchtime over the past school year.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the changing seasons and everything that autumn brings, don’t worry! Food is one thing we know a lot about. From meal planning and preparation to delivery, order from Snap Kitchen to make sure you keep on top of your nutrition as the world ramps up this fall!. You got this💪!