Coming up with back-to-school lunch solutions doesn’t have to be a tall order, nor do you have to feel like a short-order cook. Try these ideas to put together a lunch they’ll love, instead of one they’ll want to trade or toss.
Let your kid have a say in what you pack. You may think she wants the same lunch from last year, but she might be over those tried-and-tired bites, says Elizabeth Ward, RD, and author of MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better. Give her options and let her choose from proteins, veggies, and fruits that she likes. Agree to include a treat from time to time, as long as that goody is eaten along with a balanced meal.
Have fun with shapes. Turn lunch into an arts-and-crafts event by creating sandwich shapes with cookie cutters. Make any kind of sandwich imaginable using whole-wheat bread, including cucumber with hummus to almond butter with raspberry jelly, and then let your child punch out the designs they like with the forms. Add a juice drink (like Mott’s Strawberry Boom), and you’re all set!
Try something new. Instead of a regular old sandwich, wrap sliced roast beef or low-sodium turkey breast around a reduced-fat cheese stick, with a whole-grain roll on the side. Use rice-paper wrappers or leafy greens to create little bundles, tucking and rolling veggies, such as roasted peppers, sautéed onions, or steamed peas, along with protein, such as sliced chicken breast. Or make fun skewers with cooked chicken, cheese, and cherry tomatoes.
Serve breakfast for lunch. Easy to prep, store, and carry, hard-cooked eggs are a healthful, tasty lunch option. Serve them plain or made into egg salad, served with whole-grain crackers, fruit, vegetables, and milk.
Get creative with finger foods. Spread sunflower seed butter (a good alternative if your child’s school doesn’t allow peanut butter) on a whole-wheat wrap, then roll the wraps up and cut pinwheel rounds. Cut up a variety of veggies and pair with a dip like yogurt, hummus, mustard, and vegetable purees that they can use to dip their food into.
This article is sponsored by Mott's