Do you toil over making reasonably healthy, varied lunches that won’t make your kids die of embarrassment (yes, that’s a thing) and that won’t come home in a squished, uneaten wad? Here’s how to make it easier. Just select four items.
1. Main course
2. Fresh fruit or vegetable
3. Snack or dessert
4. Bonus snack or produce item
When you work within this framework—keeping in mind your kids’ tastes and substitutions for any food allergies—it’s fairly easy to pull together a tasty lunch five days a week.
To keep it healthy and filling, I follow two rules:
1. At least one item should contain protein.
2. Only one can contain added sugar.
Here are a week’s worth of sample menus to get you started.
Leftover Picnic Lunch
- Grilled chicken leg, made the night before
- Cut corn, either from the cob or frozen
- Watermelon slices
- Bad of Kettle Brand Sea Salt Potato Chips
- Horizon Organic Lowfat Milk box*
*A box of milk is a healthy calcium addition to a lunchbox any day of the week. Horizon offers a number of flavors. Need a dairy-free option? Silk offers soy and almond milk in single boxes, each loaded with plenty of calcium.
- Tortilla pizza: Whole-wheat flour (or corn) tortilla with tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese and peppercorn
- Mini carrots with Newman’s Own Ranch dressing
- Fruit skewers: kiwi, strawberry and banana pieces on tooth picks
- Clif Kid Chocolate Chip Organic ZBar
Breakfast for Lunch
- Van’s Gluten Free Totally Original Waffle, with rolled sliced ham (try Applegate Natural & Organic Meats)
- A hard-boiled egg
- Mixed berries: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
- Kind Healthy Grains Peanut Butter Whole Grain Clusters granola
Cold Noodle Lunch
- Cooked pasta (fusilli or shells are fun) with small pieces of nitrate-free salami (try Tyson Gallo Salame), cut green beans, sliced cherry tomatoes and pesto
- Horizon Organic Mozzarella String Cheese Sticks
- Annie’s Friends Bunny Grahams crackers
Better PB&J Lunch
- PB&J: Organic whole wheat bread (try Dave’s Killer Bread or Udi’s gluten-free) with a natural but butter and Cascadian Farm Organic fruit spread
- Bag of Popchips Sea Salt potato chips
- Fresh pineapple chunks