Back to school means back to routines, early mornings, homework, and of course, worrying about school lunches. We all want to send healthy things (that our kids will actually eat), but who has the time?
Today I'd like to share with you some easy lunch ideas, and the essential tools I use to make packing school lunches as simple as possible.
First up, soup (or other hot leftovers) in a thermos:
This cute little thermos is an absolute must have for us, definitely on top of my essentials list. I love having the option of sending a hot lunch with my daughters, especially on those super cold winter mornings! You can really heat any leftovers at all and send them in here. I have sent spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, and so many other things. This is a great way to send leftovers!
Of course, soup is a thermos classic. Here are some great soups that I love to send:
I like to send some kind of fruit on the side, and some kind of bread.
Next is my girls' all time favorite lunch. Like most people, they simply can't get enough pizza!
We make pizza at home quite often, and when we do I always make a little extra dough. I roll it out, brush it with some olive oil, and then bake it until it is nearly done. Then I let them cool, cut into wedges, and store them in the freezer. I also freeze the leftover sauce in ice cube trays.
When it comes time to pack lunch, I pop a few crust wedges into one of these wonderful divided containers, add two frozen cubes of sauce in a little snack bag with the corner snipped, some shredded cheese or a string cheese, and any toppings they like. They love to be able to build their own pizza right there at the lunch table!
Note: If you don't have any leftover crust wedges, you can always use a pita or tortilla cut into pieces. The kids certainly don't mind!
I like to pack a healthy treat a couple of times a week, and my kids love this homemade fruit leather.
I eat this next one more often at work than I send with them for school, because it is super yummy! It is also technically a breakfast, but who doesn't love breakfast food at any time of day?
I can't get enough yogurt! I make my own yogurt from scratch because my yogurt habit is so strong that I'd go broke with all the yogurt I'd be buying, but you certainly can buy yours at the store. I recommend a plain, whole milk yogurt and flavoring it yourself to avoid all the processed ingredients. The only ingredients on the label should be milk and the yogurt bacteria. Plain yogurt can be quite tart, but it's easy to flavor any way you like with some fruit, honey, or real maple syrup. My favorite way to eat it is with some fresh fruit and my homemade granola.
I love these twist top containers for anything that might leak in some way. School lunches sure get banged around a lot in those backpacks, and I don't like cleaning up messes if I don't have to! These do a really great job of keeping the liquid in.
The next lunch idea is an easy way to make your kids' lunch fun and cute, without spending a ton of time. Look at this simple little rainbow!
One way I get my kids to really pack in the veggies is with hummus. I use all kinds of veggies for this; carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, anything that works as a good scoop.
These silicone muffin cups are wonderful to act as extra dividers. I use them all the time!
We have waffles for dinner more often than we have them for breakfast. Each time we do, I pack up the leftovers for lunches.
Waffles can be too messy for school lunches if you dress them up with the usual syrup, so I turn the waffles into sandwiches with cream cheese and fruit in the middle. I add more fruit and some veggies on the side to really load up on the nutrients and give them plenty of produce to pick from.
We use a lot of these reusable ice packs, stock your freezer with a ton of these. Also having a cute insulated lunch box to make it more fun to bring a home lunch. As you are shopping for lunchboxes, make sure the one you pick fits the divided containers I talked about above, they don't fit in all the different insulated lunch boxes.
What do you like to send for school lunches?
Emily Allen is a former obese girl turned Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She lost 70 pounds by cutting processed food, an experience she documented on her site, www.thatswhatieat.com. Emily now teaches families how to cut processed foods and live their healthiest lives. She teaches cooking classes, does public speaking about healthy living, and has even appeared on local news programs featuring her recipes. Emily believes that anyone can live a healthier life, no matter their schedule or budget. You can find her on her site www.thatswhatieat.com, on Instagram, onPinterest, and on Facebook.