Unlike the stories we read our kids at bedtime, getting them to eat a healthy, balanced lunch doesn’t always have a happy ending. Between trying to please their tiny taste buds and making sure they have all the necessary daily nutrients, packing the perfect lunch just adds to your morning craziness.
Today, one in six kids are considered obese, so packing a healthy and nutritious lunch is critical. Childhood obesity can lead to short and long term health problems including asthma, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, increased risk of heart disease, social isolation and more. Instilling good eating habits to avoid these possible physical and mental health complications will benefit your child now and as they grow, teaching them to eventually make their own healthy decisions.
So, how can you pack a quality school lunch that your child looks forward to, all while having your mornings run smoothly? It’s surprisingly easy, especially with these healthy lunch ideas that will save you some major morning time and leave your kids satisfied, energized and ready to take on the rest of the day.
Ditch the Soggy Bread
A Turkey and cheese sandwich with mayo may seem like a good idea in the morning, but once 12 p.m. rolls around, your kids end up with a sad and soggy sandwich. Instead of bread, use lettuce to make a delicious and colorful wrap, sometimes also known as the unwich.
On a large lettuce leaf, place your desired sandwich toppings, whether it’s turkey, swiss cheese, tomatoes, shredded carrots or yellow mustard, keeping the wrap as colorful as possible. Next, slowly wrap up the lettuce and toppings and seal with a toothpick or napkin.
Using lettuce instead of bread adds a pleasing crunch and can save up to 200 calories. Additionally, you can use avocado slices, a good source of folic acid and natural fats, as a mayo replacement to keep this sandwich alternative super savory.
Just Dip It
If you want to add some more vegetables to your kid’s lunch, try packing baby carrots, celery and sweet peppers with fresh hummus. First, place a base layer of hummus in a small container. Then vertically place the vegetables of your choice in the same container, right on the hummus. This smashed chickpea dip is packed with protein, antioxidants, vitamins and more – and is easily made at home!
Another ‘dip-able’ and time-saving option kids love is vanilla yogurt dip. This three ingredient dip goes best with kid fruit favorites like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and peaches. In addition to the fruit, yogurt has many health benefits. It is rich in protein and probiotics, which help aid digestion. Pack this dip and fruit combination in separate containers to store in the fridge.
These pre-packed snacks can last up to five days, perfect for your busy mornings. Prepare these lunch snacks on a Sunday night, and huzzah! You’re set for the week. Using different dips is a smart way to get your kids to eat fruits and veggies they might think are gross eaten alone and provide snacks with some extra nutrients.
Frozen Smoothie Bowls
One of our favorite healthy lunch options are frozen smoothie bowls, and like the hummus cups can be prepared and stored for later use. Blend your kid’s favorite fruits, and sneak in some power greens like spinach and kale (careful not to make the smoothie too green). Then, add almond milk until your desired smoothie texture.
You can even add sweet acai fruit pulp, which is full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Store the blended mixture in freezable containers and save them for up to two weeks in the freezer. By the time your kids open this for lunch, the bowl will be perfectly thawed. When packing these frozen smoothie bowls for lunch, send some yummy toppings as well, like shredded coconut, chopped almonds, granola, blueberries and more…The options are endless!
Now, it looks like this year’s lunch-time-tales will have a happy ending after all. For more information on leading a healthy lifestyle, visit the vybe blog for more tips and stories.