Lunch Packing 101
One of the biggest things I hear parents complaining about with ‘back-to-school’ is packing lunches. It can be hard to come up with ideas for lunches that are easy, healthy and will actually be eaten by your kid! Having some guidelines around what makes for a good lunch has gone a long way in our household and allows my son to make choices about what he’s eating while still getting good solid energy for a busy day at school.
In my house, a typical lunch will contain at least the following:
Vegetable (standard raw vegetables (peppers, cucumbers, sugar peas, carrots) or salad (broccoli salad, cesar salad, bean salad, etc.) or leftovers but other classics include frozen peas and kale chips.
Protein (leftover meat from dinner, hard boiled egg, pumpkin seeds, roasted chickpeas, sunflower butter on something, summer sausage, greek yoghurt, hummus, black bean dip, edamame, meatball or vegeball, etc)
Sweet - this is 100% not a necessity, but I know that my son won’t complain about his lunch as long as there is something slightly sweet (i.e. jam in his yogurt, raisins with the pumpkin seeds, something baked, a smoothie freezie, etc)
Some other key points to lunch success:
Buy a thermos to use for leftovers, smoothies, yoghurt/granola, etc. Having a pretty filling ‘staple’ like these makes the rest of the lunch more straightforward.
Having granola or some healthy protein-rich baked option in the fridge or freezer makes things much easier. This often doesn’t happen in our house but when it does, lunches are easy.
Sunbutter or pumpkin seed butter are another key staple to have so there’s always something to spread or dip into.
Nuts are not allowed at schools, but seeds typically are. These include hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and coconut!
Unpack lunch before after-school snack or dinner. It’s no fun to be geared up for packing lunches in the morning only to find leftover bits of food in dirty dishes from the day before. This is another way to have a feel for what and how much your kid is eating.
Ideally we want to send a great lunch that our kids will eat, but that’s not always going to happen in reality. If they are sent off with a good breakfast and come home to a hearty snack and healthy dinner, that is still a great foundation. Send them with good options, and don’t let the volume of food intake cause you a lot of stress!
Looking for more ideas and recipes? Download my FREE Lunch Box 101 guide here!
“Staples” - Protein/Dips/Spreads/Leftovers:
Leftovers (in a thermos)
Black bean dip
Salsa & chips
Rice cakes & sunbutter
Baked/Make-Ahead Treats & Sweets:
Black bean brownies
Nuts/seeds/granola/frozen berries & yoghurt
Peppers/cucumbers/carrot/broccoli/sugar peas, etc
Black bean/corn/tomato salad
Bean or chickpea salad
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I'm always working with families on establishing the foundations of health. Diet is a huge component, as is sleep, mental health, digestion and physical activity. Don't hesitate to reach out or book an appointment if you have further questions on how to optimize the back-to-school experience for your child!