New Lunch-Box Recipe Ideas

Filed under: Nutrition: Big Kids, Nutrition: Tweens

Dear Karla,
As the school season is coming to an end soon, so are my ideas on lunches. I think my kids are officially sandwiched out as I was never given the 'creative bug' in the food department. Can you provide me with some lunch ideas I can pack for my kids that don't require a huge mental effort on my part and are healthy too?

Absolutely Tiana!
The key to packing a great lunch box for your kids is keeping an up-to-date list of food items always in your house. Here are some handy items I always like to keep on my grocery list:

  • Whole grain/corn or brown rice tortillas
  • Whole grain crackers (i.e. Triscuit, Wasa, Ryvita)
  • Whole grain bread or pita pockets
  • A colorful supply of fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables: spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers. mushrooms, peppers, celery, carrots, broccoli
  • Hummus, canned beans, eggs, canned fish (tuna or salmon)
  • Healthy snacks, such as Kashi granola bars or popcorn kernels
  • Unsulfered dried fruits
Here are some lunch ideas to help mix things up:

1. Easy-peas Burrito
(Meatless) - Inside a soft tortilla, layer drained beans (can be mashed), cheese and tomato slices. Include a small side container of salsa, if you want to add some extra variety. Throw in baby carrots with a dip like guacamole, an apple and a home-made banana muffin for a complete, tasty lunch.

2. Egg Pockets (Meatless) - Scramble eggs in a pan with green onion, pepper and torn spinach. Stuff the eggs into two mini whole wheat pita pockets, lined with a bit of spinach, some grated cheese and salsa. A side container of celery and low-fat ranch dressing, a banana and organic granola bars make great compliments to this sandwich. (Meatless)

3. Dip Day (Meatless) - Great for kids who like to get there hands dirty, everything in this lunch is for dipping. Pack a small dish of hummus with a handful of grape tomatoes, baby carrots, sliced celery legs and any other vegetable your kids love to dip. A fruit salad medley with fresh berries, sprinkled with an organic granola and drizzled in honey will definitely hit their taste buds. Throw in a slice of carrot loaf to complete the meal. If you think they'll still be hungry after all this, cover the carrot loaf in spreadable cream cheese or low-sugar yogurt.

4. Pasta Salad Day - Use any leftover whole grain pasta (quinoa, brown rice, spiral or macaroni shaped) and add some cubes of leftover cooked meat of fish (like chicken or cod). Don't forget to add some vegetables, (cooked peas, chopped red peppers, or even small florets of broccoli or cauliflower work well). To ensure all the ingredient mix together well, add plain yogurt, a lower fat salad dressing (such as poppy seed), a lightly heated spreadable cream cheese, or even a 'no salt added' tomato sauce like the ones available from Heinz, Hunt's and Eden Organics. Add a couple Mandarin oranges to the lunch, along with air-popped popcorn sprinkled with lower fat Parmesan cheese.

All the lunches above can be made in 10 minutes or less, provided you have the right items in your fridge, freezer or pantry. So, head to the grocery store to stock up and happy packing!

Karla Heintz (BSc), nutrition educator and national author of 'Picky? Not Me, Mom! A parents' guide to children's nutrition.' Karla has worked with families and athletes for over 10 years on improving nutrition for life-term results.


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.