Like any parent, there are things I do well and things I’m less awesome at. Sure, I’m giving motherhood my all, but I definitely have my fair share of #momfails. For example: that time I tried to make play-dough and it turned out like this, when I accidentally put a bunch of swear words on my daughter’s iPod, or how I’m really terrible at getting my kids to school on time.
Fortunately, I make up for some of these fails with a passion for creating awesome, healthy school lunches. Now, by ‘awesome’ I don’t mean ‘Pinterest-worthy’ or ‘artisan-crafted’ because let’s be real…we’re moms, and we’re busy. I do not have time for that and I’m betting that you don’t either. My goal is simply to pack a nutritious, tasty lunch that my kids will actually eat. That last part is important because really, if they aren’t eating their lunch, what’s the point? You may as well be sending cardboard if it comes home untouched.
Kids get very little time to sit down and eat during school hours (usually two or three short breaks between classes) and that time is marked by noise and distraction. Knowing this, I try to send my kids’ favourite foods in easy to manage, snackable portions. It’s got to be allergen-free to keep their peers safe, it must travel well and I’m not going to spend an hour making it. Ready to make some awesome lunches? Let’s do this.
1. Bits and Bites
I like to call this one ‘kid-friendly charcuterie’ because it usually starts with some turkey sausage or other meat, but it’s basically just a collection of bite-sized foods my kids enjoy. I start with protein and then add their favourite cheese, veggies, crackers and even pickles. A bento-style lunch container makes this super accessible (and fun) for kids to snack away on. Add a yogurt cup and a piece of fruit and you’ve got the perfect lunch!
2. Tortilla Wrap Roll-Ups
A tortilla roll-up is great because you can mix up the contents from week-to-week so your kids don’t get sick of them. A few of my kids’ favourite combinations are ham and swiss, turkey and cheddar, and cream cheese and cucumber. I might add an apple or a banana to the lunch bag, as well as a yogurt tube, granola bar or some homemade trail mix.
3. Half-Sandwich Lunch Combo
A full sandwich can be intimidating for kids who know they have limited time to eat (or who habitually start with the snackier elements of a lunch bag). In my house, a full sandwich is often ignored or set aside for later, but a half-sandwich with bite-sized fruit and veggies on the side is much more accessible. I like using whole wheat Wonder bread – it’s simple and comes in different options (thick or regular cut) to suit your child’s preferences. Try packing half of a turkey sandwich with cheese and baby spinach (if the words spinach scares them, call it ‘salad greens’). Add a side of fruit, some veggies and dip, and a small treat – yum.
Need more ideas?
All you really need for lunch is a main element and some healthy bites around it. Try making mini pizzas with English Muffins – just add pizza sauce, grated cheese and your favourite toppings! They’re good warm or cool, and your kids will love them. Some of our other go-tos are leftovers in a thermos, vegetable sushi, and bagels with cream cheese. Happy lunch packing!