School looks a bit different this year. Parents across the country have made the difficult decision to either send their kids back to a socially distanced classroom or to homeschool. Find 5 delicious and nutritious school lunchbox.
You know what’s best for your family, and whether textbooks are opened at the kitchen table or a school desk, there’ll be new rhythms to adjust to. Kids are figuring out a new way of schooling, both at home and in the classroom. And yet there’s one thing you know for sure—the best performance will come from nutritious meals that support their body and brain for learning.
Whether you’re a lunch-packing veteran or just need some fresh inspiration, here are some easy tips to make a nutritious school lunchbox and fun.
Let the Creativity Flow
Being creative in the kitchen is one of my favorite things, and it’s easy when you have Google and Pinterest on your side. Search for healthy spins on processed favorites—whether it’s making your own Cheez-Its, or trying a new, healthy recipe for fruit gummies (this is especially exciting if you want to create fun, new shapes).
Spice up your children’s education by going international. Explore different countries and cultures with your kiddos and cook up their unique cuisine—with a world of options, let your young scholars choose a different location every week or month. It’s a great learning experience for everyone, and a fantastic opportunity to foster deeper appreciation for other cultures. You might even find some new favorite dishes the whole family enjoys!
Everyone Needs an Apron
Get your kids invested in what they’re eating for lunch by making mealtime fun. Master those creative recipes by pulling your kids into the kitchen to learn how to cook or bake. And if you’re homeschooling, roll it into a tasty science lesson (there’s lots of chemistry in cooking!)
Use this time to teach them about nutritious school lunchbox. Talk about the benefits of healthy foods. Even ingredients as simple as peanut butter or chicken (great sources of protein for energy and learning), or homemade fruit snacks (why does an apple a day keep the doctor away?) have great talking points. Consider working in supplements or teen multivitamins* for a healthy boost to support each critical stage of development.
Make It Colorful
When it comes to packing lunch, don’t shy away from variety. We eat with our eyes first, so make each meal as colorful as you can—red, blue, green, orange, purple, and every color in between. Some of the most nutritious school lunchbox meals will be a rainbow on your plate—and some beige foods are okay, too.
Sticking to whole foods may be your best bet here. If you’re unsure where to start, shop the outer edges of your grocery store—that’s where you’ll find the healthier options. Try swapping out that bag of chips for some nuts. Instead of a fun-size candy bar, go for some sliced fruit to satisfy your kid’s sweet tooth.
Lean on Leftovers
Don’t have the time or bandwidth to make a creative, healthy meal each day? You’re not alone. For some of my favorite meals, I turn to single-pot or one-sheet recipes. They’re sinfully simple—throw the ingredients in a pot or on a sheet pan and cook or bake it all at once.
These recipes can take as little as 15 minutes and make enough to feed your whole family. Plus, they’re quick and easy to store, ranking them among the perfect, make-ahead lunch options. Just plop a meal on a plate or toss the tasty leftovers in a lunchbox, and you’re good to go.
And don’t forget about the freezer. Foods like soups or mini pizzas can live in this icy environment for up to three months. So, go ahead, premake that large batch of lunches—you don’t have to serve them all within the week. Also, consider freezing fruit to stop it from sitting on your counter for too long. It’s great as a side dish and adds easy color to any lunch.
Shy away from soda and sugary drinks that dehydrate—water is the healthiest choice for young, learning minds. Dehydration can cause a drop in energy, and make it hard to focus, so encourage your kids to drink more water. Let them pick out their own water bottle at the store. They’ll be excited to drink from their own special selection, and it’s a great way to teach them about recycling, too.
And remember, water doesn’t have to be boring. Add a boost of flavor with chopped fruit or a squirt of water flavorings made with stevia and natural ingredients.
The opportunities are endless as you approach lunch with your kids, both from a lunchbox and the kitchen table. Thankfully, we live in an age where a host of wonderful ideas for all budgets, schedules, and creativity is at your fingertips. Now, go forth and eat!
About the Writer
Sarah Limardo is originally from the Midwest, but now she’s living her best life in Salt Lake City, Utah. She devotes most of her spare time to writing, editing, or hiking. Follow her on Instagram for lots of pictures of books @SarahLimardo.
*Disclaimer: This medicine may not be right for you. Read the label before purchase. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, worsen, or change unexpectedly talk to your health professional.