7 Easy & Healthy Lunch Ideas for Your Kids
It’s back to school time, which, among other things, means throwing together lunches five days a week that your kids will actually eat. Ideally, these lunches not only have to taste good, but also provide real nutrition to help your kids learn and grow.
Much research has been conducted on nutrition and its relationship to brain function, cognition, learning, and social behaviors. What science has shown time and again is that nutrition has a direct impact on the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are important structural components that play a big role in sending messages from the body to the brain. Many dietary components, commonly found in school-age children’s lunch, have been shown to have negative effects on this system.
The following 7 lunch ideas transform classic school lunches into something much healthier for your kids. But don’t worry, they still look and taste great so your kids actually eat them and have energy and the ability to focus throughout the entire day.
And the best part is, some of these ideas call for you to make a large portion, which can then be doled out throughout the week. So you can spend a couple of hours on Sunday preparing food, which can be eaten throughout the week. Delicious, healthy, AND convenient.
Okay, let’s get started. Here are 7 easy and healthy lunch ideas for your kids.
1) Meat and Veggie Calzones
First of all, what kid doesn’t LOVE pizza? Well, calzones are like cheesy pizza sandwiches that you can stuff with all sorts of ingredients, which makes them an ideal vehicle to hide tons of veggies your kids won’t even notice.
Try different combinations like ham and broccoli, turkey and spinach, or chicken and zucchini. You can also include a little container of tomato sauce for dipping.
2) Baked Sweet-Potato Chips
Most school lunches contain a sandwich and a bag of chips. But regular potato chips are loaded with far too much sodium and trans fats that aren’t good for people of any age. Here’s a much healthier alternative.
Make your own sweet potato chips. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins and low in fat. Slice them thin using a mandoline, toss with a little olive oil and seas salt and bake at 350 for 10 minutes, flip chips over and bake another 10 minutes.
Make plenty so you can eat all week. Just be sure to store in an airtight container so the chips stay crispy.
3) Asian Noodle Salad
Every kid I’ve ever met loves pasta, but there are much healthier pasta alternatives than Chef Boyardee. Here’s a great twist on a pasta dish. Simply toss soba noodles, also known as Japanese buckwheat noodles, with veggies and tofu, and a delicious dressing made from sesame oil, lime juice and soy sauce.
Some veggies that work well in this dish are blanched green beans, cabbage, blanched broccoli, and peppers.
4) Vegetarian Black-Bean Chili
If you live in areas of the country that experience colder temperatures during winter months, you know that your kids often need a warm and hardy lunch. Instead of canned soups in a thermos, whip up some homemade vegetarian chili instead. The veggies will provide vitamins while the black beans will give your kids the protein they need to go-go-go all day.
5) Veggie Quesadillas
Here is another healthy sandwich alternative. Simply saute up some veggies like zucchini, corn and tomatoes with garlic, onions and maybe some fresh herbs. When done, scoop out onto a tortilla, cover with grated pepper jack cheese, place another tortilla on top and bake until cheese melts and tortilla is golden brown. Cut up into wedges.
6) Oven-Fried Chicken
Just like pasta, most kids I’ve ever known have loved fried chicken. The great thing about fried chicken is that it’s as delicious hot as it is cold, making it perfect for a school lunch. Of course, the not-so-great thing about fried chicken is that, well… it’s fried.
Instead of frying, simply cover your chicken in whole-wheat breadcrumbs and bake until golden brown.
7) Whole-Wheat Brownies
Of course no school lunch is complete without a sweet treat for dessert. Here’s a healthy alternative to classic brownies.
This recipe uses whole-wheat flour instead of regular white flour, apple sauce (talk about moist!), and plenty of cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate. Your kids will love them.
Now don’t be surprised if your phone starts ringing off the hook with other parents asking you for these recipes that their kids are demanding! You’re apt to start a school lunch revolution.