Back to school is just around the corner, and for my kids it's actually only in a couple more days! I've been trying to mentally prepare for the transition to our more hurried morning routine and packing lunches again. During the school year last year I took some quick iphone pictures of my kid's favorite lunches, if you follow me on instagram you may have already seen them, and I want to share them with you here to get the creative juices flowing before the big FIRST DAY BACK!
1. Salami bites, plantain chips, carrot sticks, sugar snap peas, mandarin orange, and dried mango.
Sometimes it's tricky finding something that BOTH my kids love. They tend to love opposite things, which sometimes make me wonder if they're scheming behind my back just to make things more difficult (!), but these salami bites are one thing they both love, and they're super easy to make! I use nitrate-free salami, Applegate's Farm is my favorite trusted brand for lunch meats, pasture-raised raw cheddar, and an apple slice. I usually grab a bag of plantain chips from Trader Joe's or Sprouts, and the dried mango is unsweetened and unsulphured from Trader Joe's. My husband and I often joke that it's Whole30 candy. haha!
Not only can I get both kids to eat this, but they could also make it themselves. Double rainbow. We are transitioning the kids into being more independent in the kitchen, and making lunches will be a new responsibility of theirs, I can't wait!
2. Tuscan Wraps, carrot sticks, sugar snap peas, mandarin orange, homemade nut-free Larabar.
The Tuscan Wraps are made with Applegate Turkey, Salami, roasted red peppers, a little nut-free pesto from Against All Grain's cookbook Meals Made Simple (here's a similar recipe, just sub the pine nuts for toasted sunflower seeds), and some romaine lettuce as the wrap. I typically spend a couple minutes on Sunday prepping the cut veggies for the week and storing them in an airtight container in the fridge with a little water to keep them moist and fresh, so you might see the same ones here as all these lunches were made in the same week.
Our kid's school is completely nut-free through from Kindergarten to 5th grade, which makes being grain-free challenging as most grain-free baked goods and snacks use nut flours or butters. It makes me be a little more creative and here I made some nut-free Larabars using mostly sprouted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and unsweetened shredded coconut. I can post a recipe for those later.
3. Omelet Wraps, carrot sticks, sugar snap peas, mandarin orange, plantain chips, and an apple cider vinegar sipper.
These Omelet Wraps are inspired by NomNomPaleo's egg wraps. She has an amazing collection of lunch ideas here, which have helped me so many times during the school year get out of the cooking rut. For my Omelet Wraps I use 1 egg (per kid) scrambled and cooked in grassfed butter or ghee to make the omelet, some Applegate Farm Turkey, spinach, and pasture-raised raw cheddar.
The Apple Cider Vinegar sipper is a tiny glass bottle filled with a mixture of diluted ACV, raw honey, and filtered water. It's a digestive aid. Most people are deficient in hydrochloric acid, an acid that your stomach produces to break down proteins. For kids, who can't typically swallow pills but may be in need of digestive enzymes, sipping bitters or ACV before meals can trigger digestive juices to start doing their job!
4. Mini Meatloaf, savory muffin, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, strawberries, and Apple Cider Vinegar sipper.
LEFTOVERS! I used to hate them, having a mental battle over how old they were, not fresh, and potential bacteria... but honestly I got over that real quick when I adopted a real food lifestyle. When you are in the kitchen as much as I am, you find any way possible to batch cook, make double portions, or utilize leftovers as often as possible! No need to reinvent the wheel or stress yourself out trying to have a large variety of options to offer your kids. Just like us, they can be little creatures of habit. And as long as they liked it the first time they won't mind having it on repeat occassionally. Give yourself some freedom and plan meals that will work as lunches the next day!
The night before I made a regular meatloaf and on a separate cookie sheet I formed some mini meatloaves for lunches the next day. These can also be made into meatballs. I usually add a little container of Sir Kensington's ketchup for dipping.
Can we talk about Savory Muffins for a minute?!? For a while I was making my kids sweet muffins, like blueberry or carrot... but with all the sugar they are already faced with in school and with friends, I felt I needed to make a change in their morning snack to something with no sweetener in it. I was inspired by a local coffee shop when I saw their savory muffins in their pastry case and came home to make a batch right away, and my kids loved them! Win!
I use Brittany Angell's ham and cheddar savory muffin's from her cookbook Every Last Crumb, which turns out to be a coconut flour base, so they are still nut-free! I like to mix up the add-in, these ones are bacon, cheddar, and spinach. I've also done goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, and spinach, as well as caramelized onions, goat cheese, and spinach.
5. Ham and Cheese rolls, savory muffin, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, strawberries, dark chocolate, and Apple Cider Vinegar sipper.
My kids love these meat rolls. We usually use Applegate Ham with either cream cheese or goat cheese and a little cucumber slice. We love meat rolls around here because the kids can make them and they are fast and easy. All things we need early in the morning because there are tangles in hair that need to be brushed and homework packets that need to get into backpacks.
So a few tips to remember:
- Pre-cut your veggies and store in airtight containers with a couple teaspoons of filtered water to keep them moist and fresh, it will save you so much time in the morning and even allow your kids to be great helpers in packing lunches.
- Always make lunches as nourishing as possible! These kids are under a ton of pressure at school these days and they work hard and play hard all day. They need fuel for their bodies! Lunches should include a good source of protein, healthy fats, fresh veggies and fruit, and minimal sugar and refined carbs, if any at all.
- Plan for meals that will work as leftovers for lunch the next day. If our kids have a favorite dinner, make extra and give it to them for lunch!
- Get your kids involved! If they help you make it, or if they make the whole thing themselves, they are more likely to eat it instead of throwing it out or coming home with a lunchbox full of uneaten foods.
So what do you think, are you inspired for the upcoming school year now? I hope so! Just writing this post out has me coming up with all sorts of fun new ideas!
Stay tuned for a post on the lunchboxes we use and a few tips for making grain-free lunches fun and exciting for your kids.
In good health,