Healthy School Lunches

Wake up- make school lunches for three kids…..UGH…..

I struggle with building healthy packed lunches for my kids like all moms.  My goal is to follow my formula for a healthy lunch 80% of the time (a protein, complex carb, a veggie , a fruit and no packaged foods).  That might sound like a cop-out, but the truth is: there are always 2-5 days where I default to lots of foods in packages.  I am either out of groceries, didn’t make it to the store, woke up late or just too tired to think things through.    So I default to some of the less healthy options (i.e. lots of packaged foods). With 100+ days of school left, I started thinking about the fact I need to try to make 300+ healthy lunches before summer vacation.

It is really easy to say you are going to make all your kids eat the same thing for lunch.  But, I do not think that works for lunches when they all want something different.  Without being present to supervise if your kids are eating what you pack for lunch, I find it better to just pack their food preferences.

My kids all like different lunchmeat, veggies and fruits.  And honestly, I believe they are entitled to have their own opinions and favorites (within reason).   So, I choose to be bendable at lunch.

Here is a menu of my lunch items for my kids.  I have rated them on a scale of 1-3.  1 is the healthiest, 3 is the least healthy of my best options.  I do realize that all parents rate food differently because some mom’s focus on gluten free, nut-free or dairy-free. But I rotate these items in their lunch bag.  Hopefully this will give you some good ideas.

Healthy School Lunch Ideas

 

  • Frozen grapes – they thaw by lunch (1)
  • Frozen yogurt stick  (2)
  • Fig Cookies (3)
  • Wheat Ravioli (1)*
  • Hummus and Pita/Carrots (2)
  • Frozen Snap Peas (1)
  • Fresh Hormone-Free Lunch Meat Rolls (1)
  • Peeled Clementine’s (1)
  • Sliced Hard Boiled Eggs (1)
  • Sliced Peppers (1)
  • Rice Cakes (optional nut butter, based on school rules) (1)
  • Berries (even with one spoon of cool whip or yogurt on side) (1)
  • Cut tomatoes & Cucumbers with olive oil and salt (1)
  • Pineapple/Cantaloupe sliced or cubes (1)
  • Cold Pizza (3)
  • Whole Wheat Pita with Clean Lunch Meat (3)
  • Granola (with or without Greek Yogurt) ( 2)
  • Avocado sliced in a Tortilla (2)
  • Mini Burger in Pita (2) *
  • Whole Wheat Pancake, Peanut/Almond Butter Sandwich (if allowed) (2)
  • Meat Quesadilla with spinach Mixed it (3)*
  • Pulled Pork Sandwich with BBQ (2) *
  • Meatballs & Sauce (2) *
  • Roasted Chicken – Pulled Meat & BBQ sauce (2) *
  • Cold tofu cubes seasoned
  • * I use a hot thermos (I nuke on high before we leave and it remains warm until lunch time)

Here is a list of the package foods I buy.  I choose them based on sale prices and the grocery store.  Here are my favorite packaged snacks.

  • Various yogurt brands (sticks or cups)
  • Whole wheat waffles
  • Raisins & Cran-raisins (with or without yogurt)
  • Annie’s Bunnies
  • Smart Pop popcorn
  • Sliced Apples
  • Store bought peanut, almond, pistachio butters (if allowed)
  • Low-fat cheeses
  • Whole wheat/ Rice Flour cracker of choice
  • Nut Thins Crackers
  • Pre-packaged Cut Veggies & Dip
  • Organic Soy Yogurt Whole Soy and Co
  • Quaker Multigrain Fiber Crisps
  • Organic String Cheese
  • Justin’s Nut Butter Portable Packs
  • Bear Naked Soft basic Cookies
  • Kind Healthy Grains – Cinnamon Oat Clusters Granola
  • So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt
  • Giddy Up and Go Granola
  • Go Go Squeeze Apple Sauce
  • Sweet Potato Chips, Way Better
  • Z Bars- they have several flavors

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