Nutritious Back to School Lunch Recipes and Ideas for Kids

by Major League Mommy
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As the new school year approaches, parents are faced with the challenge of preparing nutritious and appealing lunches for their kids.

Finding meals that are both healthy and enjoyable can be a struggle, but don’t worry, Major League Mommy has got you covered!

In this blog post, we will share a variety of back to school lunch recipes and ideas that will make your child excited to open their lunchbox.

So let’s get to it!

kids lunch ideas Photo Credit: happylark via Canva.com
Photo Credit: happylark via Canva.com

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Tips for Packing School Lunches

With so many lunch and snack options available, it’s important to make healthy choices that provide your kids with the necessary fuel to concentrate and excel throughout the school day. How you package these foods can make a major difference as well.

Let’s explore some valuable tips and ideas for packing school lunches that are both healthy and enjoyable for your little ones.

Plan Ahead

One of the key aspects of ensuring a balanced school lunch is proper planning. Take a few minutes each week to plan the meals and snacks for the upcoming days. This will help you avoid last-minute stress and ensure that your child’s lunch includes a variety of food groups. Consider involving your child in the planning process to increase their interest and excitement about their meals.

Include a Variety of Food Groups

A well-rounded school lunch should include items from different food groups to provide balanced nutrition. Aim to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy or dairy alternatives in every lunch. This will ensure that your child gets the necessary nutrients to support their growth and development.

Get Creative With the Presentation

Kids are more likely to enjoy their meals if they are visually appealing. Get creative with the presentation of their lunch by using colorful containers, fun-shaped sandwich cutters, or arranging fruits and vegetables in a visually appealing way. Keep in mind that the presentation doesn’t have to be complicated; even simple changes like using colorful containers and eating utensils can make the meal more exciting.

Make it Fun

Making lunchtime enjoyable can encourage your child to eat and appreciate their meal. Include some fun elements like including a small surprise treat or a note in their lunchbox. You can also encourage your child to help you prepare their meals by involving them in age-appropriate tasks like assembling sandwiches, filling containers with snacks, or washing fruits and vegetables. This will not only make lunchtime more exciting but also teach them valuable life skills.

Focus on Nutritional Value

While keeping lunchtime fun and exciting is important, don’t forget about the nutritional value. Limit the amount of processed and packaged foods, which are often high in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and sodium.

Instead, opt for whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in nutrients. Incorporate a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains like whole wheat bread or brown rice, and protein sources like lean meats, beans, or tofu. Try to avoid sugary drinks and instead provide water or milk as a healthy beverage choice.

To make your life easier, you can try out Little Spoon’s Build it Yourself Lunchers. Their nutritious lunches contain 10+ grams of protein and include fun and tasty options for the kids.

Healthy and Delicious Back to School Lunch Ideas

Sandwiches and Wraps

Turkey and Avocado Wrap: Spread mashed avocado on a whole wheat wrap, layer with sliced turkey, lettuce, and tomato. Roll it up and slice it into bite-sized pieces.

Hummus and Veggie Sandwich: Spread hummus on whole wheat bread, then add sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, and carrots. Add a sprinkle of feta cheese for extra flavor.

Peanut Butter and Banana Roll-Up: Spread natural peanut butter on a whole wheat tortilla, place a peeled banana on top, and roll it up. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Turkey and Cheese Sandwich: Use whole-grain bread and layer sliced turkey, cheese, and lettuce. Cut into fun shapes using cookie cutters.

Chicken Caesar Wrap: Fill a whole wheat tortilla with grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, grated Parmesan cheese, and Caesar dressing.

Bento Box Style Lunches

Mini Quiche Bites: Mix beaten eggs, diced vegetables, and shredded cheese. Pour the mixture into greased muffin cups and bake until set. Pack these protein-packed bites in the bento box along with cherry tomatoes and snap peas.

Protein-packed Bento: Fill one compartment with grilled chicken or hard-boiled eggs, another compartment with cherry tomatoes or cucumber slices, and a third compartment with whole grain crackers or a small portion of quinoa salad.

Veggie Sushi Bento: Make miniature vegetable sushi rolls using cucumber, carrot, and avocado. Add a side of edamame and some fruit slices like strawberries or mandarin oranges.

Mini meatballs with dipping sauce: Add cucumber slices, and cherry tomatoes or your child’s favorite fresh fruit on the side.

Creative and Fun Lunches

DIY Pizza Lunchables: Provide whole grain mini pitas or tortillas, tomato sauce, shredded cheese, and a variety of toppings like sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, and pepperoni. Kids can assemble their own mini pizzas for a fun and interactive lunch.

Mini Pizza Muffins: Mix flour, shredded cheese, diced veggies, and tomato sauce. Pour the batter into greased muffin cups and bake until golden. These mini pizzas are perfect for little hands.

Veggie Pasta Salad: Cook whole wheat pasta and toss it with a variety of diced vegetables such as bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. Dress with a light vinaigrette and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

These ideas are just a starting point for your lunch ideas! You can also check out some of our favorite salad recipes for even more nutritious lunch ideas!

infographic- nutritious sandwiches and wraps for kids lunches

Snacks and Treats

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

– Sliced apples with a side of yogurt for dipping

– Baby carrots and cherry tomatoes with a hummus dip

– Grapes or berries for a sweet and refreshing option

Protein-Packed Snacks

– Hard-boiled eggs

– Greek yogurt cups with mixed berries

– Trail mix with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit

Whole Grain Goodies

– Whole wheat crackers with cheese slices

– Mini whole grain sandwiches with lean meats and fresh veggies

– Popcorn (without added sugar or excessive salt)

Homemade Treats

– Energy balls made with oats, dates, and nut butter

– Baked sweet potato fries with a sprinkle of cinnamon

– Mini muffins with hidden veggies like zucchini or carrots

You can check out more quick and easy snack ideas here.

Drinks and Hydration

Water: Ensure that your child has access to clean, fresh water throughout the day by packing a reusable water bottle. Encourage them to drink water during lunchtime to stay hydrated.

Milk: Consider packing a small carton of low-fat milk or opt for dairy alternatives like almond milk or oat milk for those with dietary restrictions.

Fruit-infused water: Make hydration more exciting by infusing water with slices of fruits like lemon, cucumber, or berries. This adds a hint of flavor without added sugars.

Limit sugary drinks: Minimize the consumption of sugary drinks like soda, fruit juices, and sports drinks as they can contribute to tooth decay, hyperactivity, and excessive calorie intake.

Lunchbox Container Ideas

Having the right lunchbox containers can make lunchtime easier and overall more enjoyable! Here are some ideas for lunchbox containers for kids:

1. Bento Boxes: Bento boxes are a popular choice for packing balanced meals. They have separate compartments that are perfect for keeping different food items separate. This makes it easier to include a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, proteins, and snacks.

2. Divided Containers: Divided containers are similar to bento boxes but without the traditional Japanese design. They have separate compartments that allow you to pack different foods without mixing them together. These containers are great for kids who are picky eaters or prefer to have their food organized.

3. Thermal Lunch Jars: Thermal lunch jars are excellent for packing hot meals such as soups, stews, or pasta. They are designed to keep food warm for several hours, ensuring that your child enjoys a hot and tasty lunch at school. Look for lunch jars with spill-proof lids to avoid any messes.

4. Sandwich Containers: If your child enjoys sandwiches, opt for sandwich containers that can keep them fresh and prevent them from getting squished. Look for containers with adjustable dividers to keep the sandwich in place and compartments for sides like veggies or fruit slices.

5. Insulated Bags: While not exactly a lunchbox container, insulated lunch bags are essential for keeping food at the right temperature. Look for bags made from durable materials with insulation layers to keep food cold or hot until lunchtime.

Wrapping Up

Preparing healthy and tasty lunches for your kids doesn’t have to be a chore. With a little planning and creativity, you can pack lunches that are not only nutritious but also fun and exciting.

The back to school lunch recipes and ideas mentioned in this blog post are just a starting point. Feel free to experiment with different flavors, ingredients, and presentations to keep your kids excited about their lunchtime meals.

So, ditch the pre-packaged snacks and processed foods and say hello to delicious and wholesome lunches for your kids.

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