Well, here we are. Back in the swing of school year. I’m really not surehow this happened. How did this summer go by so quickly?! I feel like I say that every year though, so I don’t know why it always comes as such a surprise.
Last Wednesday night, we laid out first-day-of-schoolclothes (which my 6th grader thought was ridiculous), packed backpacks, and pulled out the kids’ lunchboxes. Yes, lunchbox packing season is upon us…again. I got those lunchboxes out, cleaned out the paper clips and pinecones, and cleaned the brown schmear of who-knows-what off of the front. They are ready to go!
Lunch is such an important part of our kiddos’ day. Mid-day when they are getting tired of sitting, their brains are full of facts and they’re realizing they are tired because it wasn’t such a good idea to sneak a flashlight into their bed so they could read Harry Potter way past their bedtime (anyone else’s kids?), lunch can change the game.
When I pack a lunch, I make sure it’s well-rounded with all the macronutrients. If I just load them full of carbohydrates, they’ll be tired and grumpy 30 minutes later. If I just give them protein and fat, they’ll be missing out on some crucial real-food micronutrients, and they may not have enough energy to get through the afternoon. So we include fat, protein, and carbohydrate in every lunch.
So if you’re in a sandwich rut, check out this list. This is also a fun thing to do with your kids. It can give them practice packing their own lunches or at least make them feel like they have some choice in the matter. At the same time, you know they’re getting what they need to get through the rest of the day.
Here are our favorite ways to pack a lunch:
Pick a Protein/fat – About the size of your palm
- Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage (Click to View)
- True Story Turkey Sausage or Lunch Meat (Click to View)
- Applegate Farms Sausage or Lunch Meat (Click to View)
- Ham Slices
- 2 Hardboiled Eggs
- Siggi’s Full Fat Yogurt (Click to View)
- Hummus (for carrots, seed crackers or other veggies)
- Nut Butter (with optional collagen peptides stirred in)
- Diced Chicken Breast
- Mixed Nuts – About 1/4 Cup if this is the main course
- Cheese and Meat Cubes
- A word about tuna packets… My son came home last year reporting his friends had abandoned their lunch table because a girl brought a tuna packet in for lunch. He was torn because he didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but he couldn’t stand the smell of a pack of straight tuna. So be cautious. School can be hard enough socially. Maybe your tuna experience will be completely different, but just a heads up from the vast knowledge of a 6th grader.
Pick a Fruit – About the size of your fist
- Sliced Apple
- Whole Nectarine
- Whole Plum
- Watermelon (in its own container)
- Baby Mandarin (Cuties)
- Orange (peeled and sectioned, or sliced)
- Pineapple Spears
- Sliced Mango
- Sliced Peach
- Applesauce (cup or squeeze pouch)
- Mixed Fruit/Veggie Squeeze Pouch (we buy baby food)
Pick a Veggie – About the size of 1-2 fists
- Sliced Cucumber
- Baby Carrots
- Sliced Peppers or Baby Peppers
- Celery with Ranch Dressing
- Celery with Peanut Butter and Raisins (Ants on a Log!!)
- Sugar Peas
- Small Salad (in its own container)
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Broccoli with Ranch Dressing
- Cauliflower with Hummus
- Sliced Zucchini with Ranch Dressing or Hummus
- Sliced Jicama
- Slaw Salad
Pick an Extra – This is the part my kids get excited for.
- Blue Diamond Nut Thins (Click to View)
- Pop Chips Nutter Puffs (Click to View: avoid at allergy-restriction schools)
- Pop Corn
- Harvest/ Snapea Crisps (Click to View)
- Jackson’s Honest Potato Chips (Click to View)
- Organic Tortialla Chips
- Pop Corners (Click to View)
- Organic Rice Cakes
- Skinny Pop Popcorn Cakes (Click to View)
Pick a Treat: This is optional, but I always include a very small treat.
- Home Free Cookie (Click to View)
- Made Good Cookie (Click to View: I always split the pack between my kids)
- Trader Joe’s Chocolate Honey Mint (Click to View)
- Unreal Chocolate Candies (Click to View)
- Emmy’s Macaroon – 1 per lunch (Click to View)
- Little Secrets Chocolate Candies (Click to View)
Pick one from each list and you’ve got a healthy lunch! Having a “menu” of sorts may also cut down on fights in the house as well. Not that we ever fight over food in our house… Not that we fought this weekend because my kids both felt sick Sunday because they’d sneaked 2 bowls of ice cream at the church party Saturday night and several pieces of candy. No. We’re way too classy to have that happen in our family…
If you still need more ideas, check out this post on 2 weeks of school lunch ideas. (Click Here to Read Post)
Enjoy the school year!!