Most parents strive to provide their kids with solid nutrition, but it can be a real challenge to come up with healthy lunchbox ideas day after day. And let’s face it, as adults, we (often times, more so than our kids) get tired of the “same-old same-old” for lunch.
That’s where having a collection of tasty, fun and nourishing recipes can help you break free from lunchbox boredom. I hope these “Six Strategies for Super Healthy Lunches” provide you with some inspiration for a delicious change of pace as you continue to strive to provide the best nutrition to fuel your children’s growing bodies.
1) Just Wrap It!
Wraps (a.k.a. Roll-Ups) are a tasty, fun and attractive alternative to the traditional sandwich. We love the wrap – they make a great lunchbox option. In fact, my kids have eaten foods they normally turn down, when I roll it up in a GF tortilla! Apparently, the cute little roll-up makes everything look and taste yummier! Check out “Sweet & Savory Roll-Ups” for a few of our favorite wrap-recipes, as well as a lot more ideas for real food wrapping.
2) Variety is the Spice of Life (especially when it comes to sandwiches)
Beat the boredom of the same sandwich syndrome by mixin’ it up with a variety of wholesome sandwich fillings to keep your sandwich creativity flowing …
• Grilled Chicken Salad
• Carrot & Cheddar
• Avocado Egg Salad
• Tuna Salad
• BBQ Chicken – Mix leftover shredded chicken with some BBQ sauce
• Nut Butter & Raw Honey w/Banana – Mix two parts of your favorite nut butter with one part raw honey and top with sliced banana
• BLAT – Bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwich
• Philly Cheese Steak – Thinly sliced leftover steak and top with leftover sautéed onion, raw cheese and spicy mustard
3) Healthy Homemade “Lunchables”
Why purchase a lunch that not only has zero nutritional value, but actually contains ingredients that are detrimental to your child’s health? Of course, the lure of this product is its convenience, but that’s the whole problem with processed foods – you trade convenience for quality nutrition.
Believe me, I’m not trying to be a lunchbox killjoy here – in fact, the more fun lunch is, the more likely it is that your child will eat it. So that’s what inspired me to create a few Healthy Homemade Lunchables ideas that are as nutritious as they are fun to create and eat.
4) Leftovers for Lunch
Talk about convenient! Packing dinner leftovers for lunch is one of the easiest methods for ensuring a delicious healthy lunch. Here are some of our favorite leftovers that taste great cold the next day …
• Savory Chicken & Veggie Bites
• Grilled Chicken or Turkey
• Taco Salad
• Turkey Meatballs (w/ketchup for dipping)
• Turkey-Veggie Burgers
• Gluten-Free Caprese Pasta or Grain-Free Caprese Zoodles
5) Go for a Dip!
Looking for a change of pace? Nutritious dips and spreads make a great light lunch, or add several satisfying sides for a heartier meal.
• Veggie Confetti Spread w/Grain-Free Crackers (see #6 below)
• Layered Bean Dip w/GF Chips
• Hummus w/Raw Veggies – Check out my friend Laura at MOMables yummy greek hummus recipe.
6) Satisfying Sides & Snacks
Wholesome sides add an extra boost of nutrition and help to satisfy a hearty appetite. Here are some ideas to get you started …
• Fresh Organic Fruit – Apple slices, melon, grapes, strawberries, pineapple, etc.
• Fresh Organic Veggies – Carrots, zucchini sticks, cucumber slices, bell peppers, broccoli florets, etc. For an extra treat, serve raw veggies w/Homemade Ranch Dressing.
• Lacto-Fermented/Cultured Veggies – Full of beneficial probiotics, cultured veggies make delicious sides. Two of my boys’ favorites are Bubbies brand cultured dill pickles and my Busy Moms’ Homemade Lacto-Fermented Salsa. My friend Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS has a wonderful book on easy fermenting and culturing that I highly recommend!
• Whole Milk Yogurt – A creamy nutritious treat, whole milk yogurt provides a wealth of good nutrition and important probiotics. We love to make our own Fruit-On-The-Bottom Yogurt, Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits and Yogurt Banana Splits.
• Raw Cheese – Made from wholesome raw milk, raw milk cheese provides all the benefits of a living food. Raw cheese is perfect on sandwiches, salads and makes a creamy, delicious addition to fresh fruit kabobs.
• Side Salads – I love to add a side salad when packing leftovers like grilled chicken. Salads also make a great main dish too. And you can further increase good nutrition by making your own homemade salad dressings.
• Healthy Homemade Crackers–Crackers make a great edible lunch utensil for scooping up healthy dips or topping with meats, cheeses and more! A few of our favorites include: GF Multiseed Crackers, GF Rosemary-Raisin Crackers, and Simple Herb GF Crackers.
• Crispy Nut Mixes – Simply combine your favorite crispy nuts (like almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.) with your favorite crispy seeds (like sunflower, pumpkin, etc.). Then add your favorite dried fruits, carob chips, and other healthy add-ins and voilà, you’ve got yourself a delicious and nutritious side.
• Healthy Homemade “KIND” Bars – You can save a ton by making your own homemade snack bars like my super-popular Fruit & Nut (and Nut-Free) “KIND” Bars. These yummy little protein-rich bars are a hit with kids and adults alike!
• Wholesome Muffins – Naturally-sweetened gluten-free or grain-free muffins make a great lunchbox side. Here are a few of our favorite grain-free recipes:
–Favorite Fruit Muffins
–Strawberry Shortcake Muffins
–Cinnamon Streusel Muffins
–Lemonberry Fruit Muffins (nut-free)
–Pineapple-Coconut Muffins (nut-free)
• Healthy Cookies? Really?? – Yes, you can make a variety of delicious, healthy cookies to satisfy your little one’s sweet tooth. Here are a few of our favorites …
–Cinnamon Walnut Buttons
–Raw Cookie Dough Bites
–Raw Cacao-Coconut Cookie Bites
I hope these six strategies for super healthy lunches help inspire you to create a wide variety of nutritious lunches for you and your children! And if you have some healthy ideas to share, I would love to hear them. We’re always looking for new ways to spice up our lunch at The Nourishing Home!
P.S. I’ve got a fun way to say I Love You! These little Lunchbox Love Notes are absolutely precious, and are such a heartfelt way to let your kids know how much you love and care about them.
Whether you have preschoolers, elementary age kids or teens, SayPlease.com has an amazing line of “love notes” for kids of all ages, even adults. The notes include an inspiring message along with cool trivia and funny jokes.
I love putting these thoughtful little notes into my boys’ lunchboxes, because I know it makes them feel loved and special!