It’s that time again! School is starting soon and fall is around the corner, which means if you’ve had a summer break from packing your kid’s lunchbox everyday, it’s time to get back in the swing of things.
First things first. If you don’t already have a great lunch container, we definitely recommend investing in a good one. A few of our favorites are Planetbox, Lunchbots, and ECOLunchBox. We love bento style because they make for a pretty presentation, keep foods separate when needed, and reduce the need to use plastic bags. Plus, it’s a gentle reminder to pack a little from each food group.
Here are four creative back-to-school lunch ideas:
Sunflower Seed Butter and Strawberry-Banana Sandwich: Spread sunflower butter over one or two slices of whole wheat bread, then layer sliced strawberries and sliced bananas between the two pieces (instead of jelly). Replacing traditional more sugar laden jelly with whole fruit not only cuts back on sugar, but also adds fiber, and more nutrients/antioxidants. The great thing is that you can vary the fruit depending on what you have in the house and what’s in season. Serve with a side of sliced cucumbers, and some cubes of cheddar cheese.
Kale-Almond Pesto Pasta Salad with Salmon: Pulse 2 1/2 cups of kale and 3/4 cup fresh basil in a food processor or blender. Blend in 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds, 1 clove of garlic, a large pinch of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest. Stir 2-3 tablespoons of pesto (depending on your child’s taste preferences) into 3/4 cup whole grain pasta. Add 1/4 cup drained canned wild salmon or tuna and 2 tablespoons shredded carrot. You can freeze leftover pesto, use it for other meals, or make a larger batch of the pesto pasta salad for the whole family to enjoy all week. Serve with a side of grape tomatoes and mini mozzarella ball skewers and two clementines.
Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Tomato: Toss quinoa with halved grape tomatoes, cooked edamame (out of the shell), parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic powder, and a dash of red wine vinegar. Pack with plain yogurt mixed with thawed frozen mixed berries and a side of granola (packed separately so it doesn’t get soggy.)
Pizza Lunch-able: Pack mini round whole wheat pitas (or cut a larger one into triangles), a side of marinara mixed with chopped baby spinach, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Let kids build their own mini pizzas, just like the popular lunchables. Pair with a side of grapes and carrot sticks.
Quesadilla with Salsa Dip (quick idea for the weekend!): Sprinkle 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese onto a corn tortilla, along with 1/4 cup shredded zucchini. Top with another corn tortilla and heat in a skillet lightly coated with olive oil over medium heat. Cook until cheese is melted and both sides are golden brown, about 4 minutes (flipping once). Slice into quarters. Serve with 2 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt mixed with 1 tablespoon mild salsa for dipping.
What are your favorite packable lunches for the school year?