It’s school time again, which means lunch box prep time for 5 days a week, 98347298 weeks a year! Just kidding, but not really. Within the realm of meal preps, healthy foods and picky eaters, getting school lunches ready for your kid(s) every morning can become quite of a burden! We know that you’re busy, and that you have a life of yourself besides cutting star-shaped cucumbers or injecting yogurt in tiny raspberries (which by the way is a great hack but can also be soooo time consuming)!
Here are some healthy, colourful, creative lunch box ideas to help busy parents pack easy & nutritious foods for the little ones every morning!
I downloaded a free school lunch plan from lunchunpacked.com for kids aged 5+ going to school, and one for pre-school for kids aged 2-4. You can subscribe and get weekly, monthly, quarterly or semi-annual plans that will guide and help you prep everything healthy and nutritious for your kids. Moreover, it helps with the shopping list- a very important part of meal prepping!
MONDAY – Falafel Wrap Day
To pack: falafel mixed with chopped romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, tahini drizzle wrapped up in whole grain roll-ups. Add on the side 1/2 cup flower-shaped (or normal shaped!) cucumber slices, 1/4 cup freeze-dried corn, 2 tbsp dark chocolate-covered dried fruit, 2 tbsp of the tahini drizzle sauce for the wraps, and some whole grain Cheerios for a nice little dessert. BAM! Nutritious, balanced and delicious!
Option #2: Cheese Toast Yumm
To pack: a few cheese toast sandwiches that you can either grill, oven-melt or microwave. Add on the side mandarin/ orange slices soldiers, a little Caesar salad – or simply Romaine salad with a little dressing, a couple of olives and some corn puffs for a sweet dessert!
Option #2: Chicken Winner
To pack: Crispy chicken tenders, with a side of cheddar cheese and mango cubes, thin cucumber slices, crackers with yogurt (or dip of your choice), and a little candy desert- or flower-shaped fruit. This makes for a balanced, protein-packed delicious lunch box!
TUESDAY – Tortellini Time
To pack: cheese tortellini mixed with finely chopped broccoli and red bell peppers – confetti style. Add on the side 2 ham rolls (turkey or your the ham of your choice), 1 cup of dried pistachios and berries, a nice vinaigrette sauce and a little heart-shaped jell-o as a sweet treat at the end. Voila! A perfect Tortellini Tuesday that will keep your kid full and happy!
Option #2: Bagel Love
To pack: Soft bagels- of course-, that you can butter up, or spread some cream cheese on. Add on the side a hard boiled egg with salt & pepper, carrot sticks and peas, 1 thinly sliced red apple and an oatmeal cracker with jam for dessert. YUMM!
WEDNESDAY – Meatless Hump Day
To pack: french toast sliced up for a good protein add (just dip the bread slices in egg and milk – or just milk, your choice). Add on the side a cup of rainbow carrot slices, snap peas with a yogurt dip, a medium (or hard-) boiled egg, a dip of maple syrup for the french toast and a couple of bunny shaped biscuits to end the day happily!
Option #2: Make it Toastie
To pack: The toast of your dreams – it can be salami and cheese for a melty, yummy toastie, or if you want to keep it #meatless, you can go for the kid-favourite peanut butter & jam toast, which will definitely be super appreciated. Add some blueberry & watermelon skewers, cucumber slices, two flower-shaped kiwis and some white and brown chocolate chips for a sweet treat.
THURSDAY – Turkey Salad Treat
To pack: turkey salad made with mayo and minced grapes (or add the fruit/veggie of your choice). Add on the side red grapes cut in half and a bunch of flower (or normal)- shaped colby jack cheese (or cheddar, or any cheese your kids love), a few crunchy pita chips, celery sticks with a ranch dressing, and some dried raisins for dessert. WOWZA. Even I’d love this for lunch!
Option #2: Ham & Cheese Rolls
To pack: Ham & cheese rolls stuffed with very thin cucumber slices. Add some extra cucumbers, tortilla chips, a bunch of grapes, a nice and fat mango cut-up and the sweat treat of your choice.
FRIDAY – TGIF Pita Pizza Indulgence
To pack: Pita Pizza – it’s all just about swapping out the traditional pizza dough for a whole wheat pita that ups the fiber content of the meal so that the little ones stay fuller longer and avoid an energy crash. Just top it with tomato sauce and mozarella – or anything else your kids love on pizza. Add on the side some edamame – or normal peas, 1/2 cup of sliced orange carrots and 1/2 cup of rainbow carrots – or it can be red bell peppers instead, with a touch of dried fruit at the end – be it raisins, or dried apricots, plums, prunes and anything you prefer!
Option #2: Kids’ Favorite Pasta Bolognese Carbs
To pack: Spaghetti Bolognese, obviously – you can make the sauce your kids love the most – but classics is best: slow cooked minced mixed meat, tomato sauce, and finely chopped carrots and/or celery. Add on the side some buttered bread, a nice full cup of grapes, baby carrots and the desert of your choice – little white chocolate chips, or anything else you love.
All images courtesy of Planetbox and Lunch Unpacked.