Every year, the time between school ending for summer break and the new school year beginning seems to get shorter and shorter. It’s not that there is any less time, life just seems to fly by quickly as kids grow up. With the beginning of each new school year, children are a little bit older, and their taste buds may have become a bit more selective. The tuna salad sandwich that was a favorite lunch last year has suddenly lost its “favorite meal” status. Moms are having to look for new and exciting lunch ideas and, at the same time, keep them nutritious and healthy.
What may not be obvious is checking with the kids to see what may be on their minds for lunch. As kids move into middle school, mom’s homemade lunch isn’t as cool as it was in elementary school. At the same time, it isn’t in every family’s budget to afford a hot lunch for the kids everyday. But there are some great recipes and ideas out there that are even better than what’s being served in the cafeteria, and they can be made healthier at home. The following are some new lunch ideas that just may be cool enough to show off to friends.
Mock Avocado Toast
Avocado toast is a favorite breakfast or lunch treat for many individuals following a more plant-based diet. Trying to keep the toast from getting soggy and the avocado from turning brown are the challenges when taking this lunch to school. Mashing the avocado beforehand and seasoning with garlic powder, salt, and lemon or lime juice helps to keep it fresh. Instead of toast, send a handful of healthy multigrain crackers and you have avocado toast on the go!
Hummus, Pita Chips, and Veggies
Hummus is found in most grocery stores and is high in fiber and protein. A 3.5-ounce serving of hummus contains 7.9 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber, providing great nutrition for kids running around at school. Add some pita chips or pita bread and veggies, and kids are good to go with a healthy and nutritious lunch.
The grocery store deli section is full of more than just sandwiches and premade salads. Some stores have to-go containers filled with small portions of fresh fruit, chicken or tuna salad, crackers, and chunks of cheese. This same lunch idea can be made at home and sent along with the kids. Filling a portioned container full of these items makes lunch healthy and the combinations are limitless.
Cheese Quesadilla and Salsa
Quesadillas are easy to make and they’re tasty. They can be filled with cheese alone or combined with shredded chicken for extra calories and flavor. Start with this basic quesadilla recipe from Verwellfit.com, and make alterations based on what you have in the house or what the children ask for. Slice into triangles, wrap up in foil for a to-go lunch, and send along a bit of salsa.
Hard Boiled Egg and Avocado Bowl
Hard boiled eggs are a quick and easy source of protein but can be rather plain on their own. Partner chopped, hard-boiled egg with avocado, veggies, salt, and pepper and you have an easy lunch that can be eaten with fingers. Throw in ranch dressing on the side for tasty dipping.
Fruit, Yogurt, and Granola
This fruit, yogurt, and granola combination may sound a bit like breakfast, but some kids do better with yogurt and some fruit rather than a traditional lunch idea. Using berries and low-fat plain yogurt keeps the sugar content low. Adding in low-sugar granola adds crunch and extra flavor.
Kid Friendly Buddha Bowl
A buddha bowl, sometimes called a glory or hippie bowl, is a combination of roasted or raw veggies, beans, and a healthy grain such as brown rice or quinoa. So why not make a small, kid-friendly version? Combine quinoa with raw carrots, cherry tomatoes, sliced red peppers, garbanzo beans, cucumber slices, and a favorite dressing. Let the kids get involved by choosing their veggies! It’s great served cold.
As most of you parents know, you can’t please kids all of the time. One day something is their favorite meal ever and the next they might say they hate it and never want that again. As with most things in life, remaining flexible and having a sense of humor is the best recourse. If the kids continually come home with most of their lunch still in the bag, try cutting back and sending less. Too many choices can be overwhelming, and sending only a few items may encourage them to eat what they have. Here’s to a happy and successful school year!
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