I have two children and we’ve been busy making sure we’re stocked up with our back to school supplies and clothes (the kids grow FAST). One of the things my kids have been asking for are new lunch boxes. My daughter especially loves ones that have the reversible sequins – they didn’t have those around when I was kid – haha!
Both of my children have special needs. My son has high-functioning autism and my daughter has ADHD. Plus, there are some sensory issues mixed in with all of that. So, it’s very important for me to send them to school with healthy lunches and snacks so their brains and bodies will work optimally while in school. I’m especially careful about the oils they eat in their prepared foods and snacks (I don’t use oils that can easily go rancid – we like to use products with coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and sustainable palm oil). I also like to be able to feed them organic food as much as possible, and…LOTS of fresh fruits and veggies. While we don’t do things perfectly 100% of the time, sending lunch with my kids helps to ensure that they eat well.
Besides insulated lunch boxes, I have ice packs in the freezer that they can use to keep their food fresh, and we have a few Thermoses in case they want to pack something hot, like soup.
This article focuses on lunches you can send with your kids to school, but I know not all of us have children that are school-aged, so these lunch ideas are great for adults too! They’re healthy and of course, packing a lunch from home can help save some money and help each of us to eat more healthfully (adults may need to fix larger lunch portions than kids will need).
And make sure you keep reading…because there are 3 weeks’ worth of healthy lunch ideas at the end of this article.
A Few Tips for Lunches
Ask your child to pick out the foods he wants to eat in his school lunches and snacks. This will help him to want to eat his lunch. It’s A LOT easier to eat things we like and A LOT less easy to eat things we don’t like. The same holds true for children.
Ask your child to help you fix her lunch. First, this helps your child to learn some cooking skills. And if she helps fix her lunches, the time she invests into fixing her lunch will help her to appreciate the lunch and eat it. (Plus, it’s less work for you to do!)
Pack lunches so they stay fresh; keep cold things cold with freezer packs. Keep things warm by using insulated containers for warm/hot foods (you can also use an insulated container to keep things cold).
Try to pack school lunches and snacks the night before the following school day. Having food already prepped, or mostly prepped, saves you time in the morning and ensures that you’ll be more likely to send a healthy, tasty lunch to school with your child.
Make things fun! Send meals that are fun to eat and that appetizing. Include fun notes, drawings or jokes in your child’s lunch box.
Finally, remember…the lunches you and your kids make do NOT have to look perfect. Just do your best, include your child in the process, and have fun.
What to Pack Your Lunches In
Packing school lunches so they stay cold when they need to be cold or hot when they need to stay hot might require a small investment in a high-quality lunch box and/or lunch box supplies.
Bento boxes are GREAT for organizing lunches in. So are Thermos brand containers. We use those from time to time…especially the Thermos containers when the kids want soup or another hot main dish. Sometimes, we put grapes or other fruits in the Thermos, as well.
My favorite lunch supplies that I own, however, are our modular lunch kits. One of the things I love best about this kit is that I can completely separate lunch ingredients, so sandwiches or grain-free muffins don’t get soggy from fruits. And nuts can go into their own container and stay dry. This is very good for my kids, who are often picky eaters. You can also use the smaller containers for snacks to send with your kids to school. You can find my favorite brand of lunch kits here (and they include an ice pack).
And let’s talk about water. Water is the most wonderful, free thing you can give your kids to take to school with them! (We filter our water, so it’s important for me to send my kids to school with it). I send a larger water bottle with my kids for them to sip from throughout the day and a smaller one for their lunch boxes. The smaller water bottle is usually a Nalgene bottle. The larger ones have a valve my kids can sip from.
Snacks to Fuel Your Kids With
When I was in elementary school, I don’t remember bringing snacks to school with me. Now, more and more kids take snacks with them. They can help give your child a quick pick-me-up during the school day, and help them to focus better in the classroom. Unfortunately, sugary snacks might make your child “crash” and make it harder for him or her or them to focus in class. Luckily, we have some great-tasting, healthy options!
Larabars are perfect and portable! My kids especially love the Mint Chip Brownie flavor here.
Nutiva Hemp, Chia and Coconut snacks are full of Omega-3s and other brain-healthy nutrients. This comes in a case, so you can buy in bulk. Try some today- you can buy them here.
I LOVE these Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips! They’re one of the few brands that uses coconut oil to fry their chips in, instead of vegetable oils that can go rancid quickly. You can pick up their sweet potato chips in a handy case-size here.
If you’re not as picky about your chips being fried in vegetable oil, Terra Chips are wonderful! They’re also one of my favorites. I like to stay stocked up on the Original recipe, and my 10-yr-old daughter loves them! You can order them here.
It can be super-helpful to pack protein in your child’s snack. Protein has staying power and helps give the body the amino acids it needs for different functions. Field Trip Beef Jerky is yummy, filling and easy to take along. You can find it here.
Finally, Bare Fuji Apple Chips are delicious! They add a wonderful crunch and are nutritious. Try these today at this link.
The snack ideas above are great if you need to keep some healthy, non-perishable foods to have on hand ( we always keep a few healthy, non-perishable snacks on hand). Of course, some of the best snacks you can send are fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, cheese and yogurt (you can find some yummy yogurts made from coconut milk and other bovine-free milks). Some of my favorite snack combos are:
Celery and almond butter
Apple slices and cheese
Yogurt with berries and coconut shreds
Paleo muffins (recipe here)
Cooked veggies in a little bit of broth
Chicken, thinly-sliced apple, bacon wraps (in lettuce or a Paleo-friendly wrap)
Orange slices with beef jerky
Blueberry, banana, & coconut milk smoothies
Green smoothies made with coconut milk or almond milk
Three Weeks Worth of Lunch Ideas
*These lunch ideas are grain-free, but may have bovine dairy in them. Feel free to substitute the dairy with coconut milk, almond milk or other milks. Here are some dairy-free alternatives we carry:
And now… the lunch ideas:
- Nitrate free hot dogs rolled up in wraps (lettuce, homemade Paleo wraps or these wraps with Grapes, Cashews, and Carrot Sticks
- Savory Paleo muffins (Egg and Vegetable Muffins recipe here) with Apple Slices and Terra Chips
- Turkey meat, cheese, & mustard rolled up in a lettuce wrap or tapioca flour wrap (recipe here) with Fresh pineapple and Avacado
- Quesadilla made with coconut flour (recipe here), filled with cheese, tomato, and bacon with Oranges and Olives
- Brazilian Cheese bread (recipe here – my son LOVES this recipe) with Banana Slices and Chocolate-Hazelnut Dip (recipe here) or Almond Butter on the side and Macadamia Nuts
- Lettuce wraps with pepperoni slices, red bell pepper, mayo, & provolone cheese with Baby Carrots and Raisins
- Tuna salad in a tapioca wrap with Baby Pickles, Baby Carrots, and Grapes
- Hard-boiled Eggs, Bacon slices with Almond Flour Crackers, Tomato slices, and Blueberries
- Veggie and chicken stir-fry with an Asian pear and Cashews
- Turkey lunch meat, rolled up, with avocado inside with cooked Sweet Potato Chunks and Strawberries
- Rotisserie chicken in tapioca flour wraps with Pineapple Rings and Sliced Cucumber with Dip
- Chicken salad stuffed tomatoes with a Strawberry Smoothie and Baby Carrots
- Pulled pork in tapioca flour wraps with Sliced pickles and Apples with Almond Butter
- Vegetable and ham frittata (recipe here) with Grapes and Baby Carrots
- Plantain chips with chicken salad with Cucumbers, Tomatoes, and Apple Slices
We hope this information will be helpful to you as you prepare for back to school. Do you have any favorite healthy lunch ideas? Please comment below with those!