With back-to-school start dates just around the corner, you might not only be thinking about the classroom supplies your children need but also what you’ll put into their lunch boxes. What can you pack that’s fresh and nourishing and they will actually eat? If this is something that has been on your mind, you are in the right place because today we are sharing with you some simple lunch ideas!
Stacie Hassing, RDN, LD is a Minnesota-based dietitian and the co-founder of The Real Food Dietitians website and blog where she shares healthy recipes and nutrition tips. When creating her recipes she keeps busy schedules in mind. Her goal is to create recipes with 10 ingredients or less that are healthy, tasty, kid-friendly and quick to make. Today she is sharing Five School Lunches Kids Can Make Themselves. That’s right, these recipes are simple, nutritious and oh-so-delicious. You may need to provide a little guidance the first time they try the recipes but after that, your children will be able to make them on their own. Not only will they be eating healthy lunches, they will also develop some basic kitchen skills and take pride in their creations.
Fruit & Nut Yogurt Parfait
This perfectly balanced meal can be served for breakfast, lunch or an afternoon snack. Serves one.
- 1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (see Dietitian Stacie’s Yogurt Buying Tips and Brands We Love )
- ½ cup fruit of choice, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tsp. honey (do not need if using vanilla yogurt)
- Dash of cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp. granola (choose low sugar – less than 6 g per serving)
- 1 Tbsp. chopped nuts or seeds of choice (pecans, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.)
- In a medium container, add the yogurt.
- Next, add the fruit. Drizzle with the honey and dash with cinnamon. Cover the container and place in lunch bag or refrigerator if making the night before.
- Portion out the granola and nuts and place in smaller container or baggie. Place in lunch bag.
- Just before eating, add the granola and nuts to the yogurt and fruit.
- Mix together and enjoy.
For an extra touch of sweetness, add 1-2 tsp. of mini-chocolate chip.
Turkey Veggie Hummus Wrap
Wraps are easy to make, fun to eat and can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. They are the perfect go-to lunch food. Serves one.
- 1 wrap (Dietitian Stacie’s favorite is Udi’s Gluten-free wraps)
- 2 Tbsp. roasted red pepper or garlic hummus
- 4-6 slices natural deli turkey
- 1 string cheese
- ¼ cup shredded carrots
- ¼ cup thinly sliced cucumbers
- A few spinach leaves
- Place the wrap on a plate.
- Spread with hummus.
- Place the deli slices evenly over the wrap.
- On one half of the wrap, place the string cheese on top of the deli meat.
- Top evenly with the carrots, cucumber slices and spinach leaves.
- Fold in the ends carefully and then starting with the side that the string cheese is on, roll the wrap up tightly. Cut in half and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
- Serve with a piece of your favorite fresh fruit.
Healthy Ham And Cheese Cracker Stacks With Apples
This is a much healthier version of the popular pre-packaged meat, cheese and cracker trays. Serves one.
- 8 crackers (Dietitian Stacie’s favorite crackers are Nut Thins or Mary’s Gone Crackers)
- 4-6 slices of natural deli ham, cut into 1×1 inch squares
- 3-4 thin slices of cheddar cheese, cut into 1×1 inch squares
- ½ small apples, sliced thin
Serve on the side:
- ½ cup carrots and celery sticks
- ¼ cup hummus, guacamole or 2 tbsp. organic ranch. (See Dietitian Stacie’s Homemade Ranch Recipe and Homemade Guacamole Recipe.)
- In a divided container or bento box, place the crackers, ham, cheese, and apple slices.
- When ready to eat, assemble cracker stacks in the order ingredients are listed. Cracker on the bottom, then the ham, then the cheese and finally an apple slice on the top.
- Serve the veggie sticks and hummus, guacamole or ranch dip on the side to round out the meal.
Change it up with different kinds of natural deli meats like chicken, ham or roast beef.
Two-Way Salad Kebabs
Kids can get creative in the kitchen with these two salad kebab varieties. Feel free to change up the kinds of meat, cheese, veggies or fruits used in this recipe. Serves one.
Meat & Cheese Salad Kebab
- 4 grape tomatoes
- 4 cucumber slices (for large cucumbers, half slices)
- 1 handful of spinach leaves
- 2 oz. cooked meat, cut into dice-sized cubes (leftover meat or thick cut deli meat works great)
- 1 oz. cheese, cut into dice-sized cubes
- 2 Tbsp. Organic ranch. (See Dietitian Stacie’s Homemade Ranch Recipe and Homemade Guacamole Recipe.)
- 2 skewers
Fruit Salad Kebab:
- ½ small banana, sliced
- ¼ cup grapes
- ¼ cup strawberry, halves
- 2 small skewers
Meat & Cheese Salad Kebab:
- With 2 skewers, assemble meat kebabs by poking the skewers though each small piece of food.
- If you would like, use your creativity and create a pattern. For example, start with two spinach leaves, followed by one grape tomato, then a cube of cheese, two spinach leaves, a cube of meat, a cucumber slice and two spinach leaves. Then repeat this pattern.
- Place ranch in a container and serve on the side for dipping.
Fruit Salad Kebab:
- With 2 small skewers, assemble fruit kebabs by poking the skewers though each small piece of fruit.
- If you would like, use your creativity and create a pattern. For example, start with a banana slice, followed by a strawberry half, a banana slice, a grape and then repeat.
Easy Banana-Peanut Butter Overnight Oatmeal
Breakfast for lunch? Why not? Overnight oats are filling, tasty and will give you energy for the rest of the school day. Serves one.
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (not cooked)
- 1/2 cup almond milk (may substitute other milk of choice)
- 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
- 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp. honey
- Dash of Cinnamon
- 1/2 small banana, sliced
The night before:
- In a container or Mason jar, stir together the oats, almond milk, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, honey and cinnamon.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to eat:
- Stir oats.
- Top with the banana slices and enjoy warm or cold.
Mix up your flavor of overnight oats by adding different kinds of fruit. And if you would like, you can make up two or three jars of overnight oats to have ready to eat for the next few days.
Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for Examiner.com, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at Examiner.com.