Spruce Up School Lunches with These Tasty Ideas
by: Rachel Harris, Managedmoms.com
Even though making daily lunches for my kids is a bit of a chore, I am happy that they request a homemade lunch over the unappealing school cafeteria food which is not loaded with nutrition, either. So every year I brainstorm and check social media to come up with ideas to spruce up those school lunches with foods that are tasty and healthy. Here is what I have come up for this new school year. Please share your ideas in the comments section because I am always looking for unique lunch ideas that make both myself and my kids happy!
Out of the LunchBox Unique Ideas:
*My protein cheese roll-ups - Want to go without the bread? My kids like my protein & cheese roll-ups because these tasty little roll-ups are made with a slice of Swiss cheese rolled under two slices of turkey and with a dab mustard spread inside before you do the rolling.
*Banana "sushi" rolls -- Another clever idea from my friend Lisa at popcornserveddaily.com is to drizzle raw organic honey on a tortilla and add peanut butter and banana. Then roll, wrap and slice and your child gets yummy banana sushi rolls. The peanut butter is a good protein, the banana is a good source of potassium and the healthy honey satisfies a sweet tooth.
*Savory Soup - Pack their favorite soup in a good sturdy soup container. Our favorite brand is the Aladdin Hybrid Kiddo Vacuum Food Jar that sells for $14.99 at http://www.shopaladdin-pmi.com/product/10324. I have purchased several of these BPA free easy to open jars over the years and my kids love this product. I love it because I can pack them healthy homemade soup and they love the jar because it packs nicely since it isn't too big or bulky and is easy to open.
*Easy salad idea - Shred chicken from a Rotisserie chicken and freeze in baggies. Then take the frozen chicken out in the morning and add to lettuce to make your child's favorite salad. My girl loves Caesar salad. My friend Lisa with www.popcornserveddaily.com shared this with me and she says that the chicken thaws out by lunch time. Great idea. I like to buy Safeway's Open Nature Rotisserie chicken because it is hormone and antibiotic free. I also found some cool petite salad dressing and condiment containers at Safeway and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
*A Healthier Option to a PB&J - Instead of the typical peanut butter and jelly, try almond butter with a local organic honey on 100% whole wheat bread. The almond butter provides a good protein, the honey helps with allergies and Livestong.com says that raw honey is rich in vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B6, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin are all common vitamins found in raw honey, although amounts vary depending on the floral source of the honey. Calcium, copper, iron, magnesium potassium and zinc are abundant minerals in raw honey. And honey satisfies a sweet tooth. My mother always tells me to look for bread that is marked 100% whole wheat so that is what my kids get.
Unique Lunch Boxes Filled With Food That Pleases
Filling a unique lunchbox with food that pleases your child's palate also spruces up school lunch options for both you and your child. Here are a few that I recommend with some cool lunch menu ideas, too...
*PlanetBox - PlanetBox is a high quality stainless steel BPA free lunchbox designed to help pack a well-balanced meal quickly and easily. Part bento box, part TV dinner tray, the segmented containers simplify packing, encourage healthy eating and portion control, reduce waste and keep food fresh and contained for school. PlanetBox is available in three sizes and can be personalized with fun magnets and a range of accessories that can be ordered at www.planetbox.com. My menu idea for my girl's PlanetBox is to pack a crust-free (kids love it when the crust is removed) turkey and avocado sandwich, fresh organic strawberries, carrot and celery sticks with the cool PlanetBox little dipper container for Ranch dressing, pretzel sticks that fit perfectly in the PlanetBox's long compartment and two dark chocolate Hershey's Kisses in the little compartment, which is made to fit a small treat. The outer Rover bag that holds the PlanetBox lunch in place also includes several pockets with containers to hold snacks for snack time. The PlanetBox is such a cool invention!
*The Laptop Lunches lunch box is a sleek and compact fully insulated Bento ware tote that is small enough for little hands to carry or to throw in a backpack, yet big enough to hold a nutritious, well-balanced meal. The Bento Kit 2.0 comes in Extreme Sports, Butterfly Heart, Garden, and a selection of solid primary and pastel colors and sells for $38.99. The Dual Kit fits the bento-system in the bottom compartment with an additional compartment on top for water bottles and extra containers to pack food to last the whole day. The Dual Kit comes in new patterns Candy Stripes and Shark Frenzy and sells for $39.99. Both sell at www.laptoplunches.com.
*Free Lunch Idea App - Laptop Lunches also gives you great meal ideas and recipes with the free Laptop Lunches app called Lunch Ideas. This is a helpful quick reference app designed to inspire healthy and convenient bento box lunches. Photographed in Laptop Lunches signature bento boxes, lunches are organized by seasons Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall, where you can find over 50 bento box lunch ideas. The app & meal plans link to the Laptop Lunches website where you can find grocery lists, healthy recipes, and many more meal ideas designed for busy families on the go! I downloaded the app for free at iTunes and I use it a lot. I love this cool idea that helps busy moms.
*Sydney Paige, A Lunchbox/Backpack That Gives Back - this backpack and lunchbox set comes from Sydney Paige which makes quality back to school items and for every product sold, one exact matching item is donated to a student in need in the U.S. This very charitable company also partners with non-profits to fill donated backpacks with much needed school supplies. For more information and to order products visit www.sydneypaigeinc.com.
*SoYoung Lunchboxes loved by the Celebs -- This is the lunchbox that the stars send their kids to school with for lunchtime. SoYoung is a Canadian line of urban lunch boxes, cooler bags, backpacks and diaper bags for the modern family. These stylish lunch boxes have been spotted on Rachel Zoe’s son, Skyler, Jessica Alba’s daughter, Honor, and Halle Berry’s daughter, Nahla. Part of SoYoung’s new spring BPA free collection includes four aquatic-themed designs, featuring sea creatures in electric colors. The Neon Pink Seahorses Large Cooler Bag retails at $37.00, the Neon Orange Starfish Small Cooler Bag retails at $30.00, and each Lunch Box retails at $32.00. All SoYoung products are available for purchase through www.soyoung.ca.
What school lunch ideas do you make for your kids? Share here in the comments section and check my blog at www.managedmoms.com for back to school ideas, recipes and more. Be sure to subscribe to my blog to be automatically entered into my Freebie Friday drawing for that we do every Friday through random.org. I'm wishing your family a happy and healthy school year ahead!