Healthy School Lunches Kids Love by Tana Amen BSN RN

Every September, I’m bombarded with questions about healthy lunch ideas for kids. Let’s face it, the lunches provided by schools aren’t any better than most fast-food restaurants. Even calling them food is questionable.

Then there are Lunchables – the Kraft created, pre-packed lunches that became all the rage in the 80’s and are still going strong. These were the perfect solution for busy working moms, and kids love them. There’s only one problem, Geoffrey Bible, former C.E.O. of Philip Morris (the parent company of Kraft) purportedly stated that the healthiest part of Lunchables is the napkin! Yikes!

Many parents have turned to home packed lunches in an attempt to help their kids thrive. However, It’s nearly impossible to pack a hot lunch in a lunch box and even more impossible to get a kid to eat it even if you could. Add to that, many parents now want to avoid the gluten associated with sandwich bread. What’s a parent to do?

Although Chloe is now homeschooled, I’ve had many years of packing her lunch and continually educating her about how food affects her body. I’ve put a lot of thought into this issue. I’ve always involved my daughter in the process of creating healthy lunch menus. I even dedicated an entire chapter in my new book, The Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook, to delicious and nutritious kid favorite recipes that will help you.

A typical school lunch for Chloe would include a little protein, a lot of fruit and veggies, and some healthy fat. Most importantly, I always tried to include a delicious snack. It was important for Chloe to associate being healthy with abundance. For the sake of time, I always made use of left-overs from dinner the night before.

Here are some of Chloe’s favorite mom approved lunch recipes from The Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook:

  • Snappy Chicken Salad Snack Wrap: simple chicken salad on a coconut wrap
  • Citrus Chicken: tastes good cold
  • Chloe’s Favorite Chicken Wings: tastes good cold
  • Wholesome Hummus
  • Chia Protein Pudding: a great way to boost protein
  • Banana Nut Roll: banana, almond or seed butter on a coconut wrap
  • Coconut Avocado Pudding: tastes just like chocolate pudding
  • Sesame Almond bars: delicious
  • Hard boiled eggs: I make a dozen at the beginning of the week
  • Quick Egg Salad Wrap: great on coconut curry wrap
  • Chopped veggies with almond butter or guacamole
  • Double Chocolate Mini Muffins: being healthy doesn’t mean deprivation
  • Fudgy Brownies: you won’t believe they’re healthy

 

Many moms prefer to create their own recipes. Maybe your child has specific food allergies, or you’re on a budget and want to make use of the food items in your house. You can modify these recipes or use the following simple guideline to show the breakdown of macronutrients and examples to create amazing combos that will have your kids excited about lunch:

Protein:

 

Complex Carbs:

  • Chopped vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, zucchini)
  • Hummus
  • Salsa for dipping
  • Organic berries
  • Organic apples
  • Organic cherries
  • Other low-glycemic fruit

 

Healthy Fats:

  • Almonds or walnuts
  • Olive oil for salad dressing
  • Guacamole
  • Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • Coconut wraps (to replace bread)
  • Dark chocolate – sugar free, dairy free
  • Nut butter in single-serving travel-size packets
  • Homemade trail mix
  • Coconut butter

 

The Brain Warrior’s Way is a family friendly way of living and eating. It is much more effective when the whole family is participating. Your children will enjoy taking charge of their own healthy lifestyle more readily when they are introduced to it at a young age, however it is never too late to start. This is what we did with my daughter Chloe who went through a stage of defiance, but her friends now look to her as a role model and leader in healthy living.

For more recipes and tips like this check out The Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook.