It’s time to start prepping for another school year of lunches and snacks, but if the idea of making one more peanut butter and jelly sandwich is making you dizzy, we’re here to help. We talked to some of our culinary instructors who are also moms to get the best advice. We know you want to pack things that your kids will enjoy, but are also nutritious and interesting. The more “whole foods” you can sneak into their lunch bags, the better!
Fresh Lunch Ideas
- Hot Foods: Pastas, soups and casseroles are a great alternative to sandwiches. You can add a variety of ingredients that you know your kids will eat. Some ideas include: butternut squash ravioli, clam chowder or chicken and cheese enchiladas. Just make sure to pack them in a thermal lunch bag or container to keep them warm.
- Salads: Salads are a great way to sneak in healthy protein and veggies for your child’s lunch, you can also make them big enough for a meal or smaller for a side dish. Don’t just think of lettuce, you can also make grain and pasta based salads such as quinoa or macaroni. Some great salads for kids include: Waldorf chicken salad, Greek orzo salad, Cobb salad (if your child doesn’t like blue cheese you can sub in fresh mozzarella)
- Wraps: Wraps are a great alternative to sandwiches, and they are a lot less messy! Though similar to sandwiches the wrap is an easier way to contain delicious ingredients. Whole wheat tortillas make for great wraps! Kids tend to like simpler ingredients, so we recommend a wrap with one protein and one or two of their favorite veggies. Turkey with cheddar cheese, avocado and tomato is usually a can’t-miss. You can also add any salad into a wrap. More options include: Ham with Swiss cheese and sliced green apple or grilled chicken with hummus, olives and red bell peppers.
- Snacks: The less that snacks can be from a box or plastic wrapper the better. We suggest: peanuts, cashews, almonds, popcorn, craisins, pretzels, string cheese, rice cakes, berries and bananas.
“For my son I like to use an insulated container that can hold heat in for awhile. He prefers hot foods over sandwiches so anything from homemade mac and cheese to chili works as long as it keeps hot. I also do things that he can dip, like pita with hummus. He also loves anything in a tortilla. I’ll heat a tortilla in the morning, sprinkle it with cheese, add avocado and roll it up. You can add any additional veggies that you want. I wrap it in parchment paper.” – Chef Instructor M.H.
“My daughter and most kids love pasta so I like to make pasta salad for her lunch. Orzo is great for this and I can sneak in vegetables too like diced cucumbers, red peppers, tomatoes and shredded carrots. I always give her a yogurt and some fresh fruit too such as berries or sliced apples with peanut butter. Banana bread (with chocolate chips) is also a staple in my house because it’s great for busy school mornings.” – Chef Instructor J.A.