In this article I share my 5 favorite healthy and easy school lunch ideas. Does the thought of making packed lunches again every day for your kids make you shudder? Trying to make a healthy, balanced lunch (that they actually eat) on top of everything else that you have to do? For me, getting back into the swing of preparing healthy school lunches for my daughter with minimal time or effort is at the top of my list.
One thing I have learned from cooking with a professional Chef for the past 15 years is how to gain efficiencies in the kitchen without compromising taste or quality.
Good Day DC on Fox5 recently invited me to share healthy and easy school lunch ideas with their viewers and I am happy to list them out here for you!
Here are my top 5 tips for making healthy and easy school lunches, stress free.
1. Use leak proof lunch boxes
There is nothing worse than leaky lunchbox compartments. Blueberries smushed with crackers - not good!
Bentgo Lunch Boxes are amazing. I have been using the same, purple Bentgo box for the past year for my daughter and just bought another one for my son. They come in lots of colors and patterns and feature 5 leak proof compartments for kids that like to snack, like mine. I love that there are 5 compartments as it is a easy reminder to include all of the food groups for a balanced lunch.
2. Make the next day's school lunch as you are making dinner
Who says that a school lunch has to include a sandwich ? Not me! While living in France I couldn't get over how delicious school lunches sounded - the cafeteria menus read like a bistro "menu du jour".
Save yourself time and portion off a little of the dinner you are serving directly into the lunch boxes.
Serving roast chicken and rice? Slice some of the meat and serve with the rice. It isn't leftovers if you are portioning the lunch box while preparing dinner!
Whatever your child is eating for dinner, they will likely eat for lunch. It is so easy to turn dinner (home cooked or takeout), into a delicious school lunch.
My daughter loves stuffed tomatoes like in my petit farcis nicois recipe (stuffed roast vegetables - delicious!) I add a little rice into her lunch box and serve a couple tomatoes.
Pasta with meat sauce always gets eaten. My go-to recipe for Bolognaise sauce is found here.
Not only are you likely to be serving something healthier than a sandwich but you are also cutting your school lunch prep time in half.
3. Make school lunches with your kid
After I have portioned the main course, I let my daughter choose 1 fruit and 1 vegetable as well as her selection of cheese. (her favorites are Babybel Cheese or Vache Qui Rit - The Laughing Cow Cheese) She loves helping me in the kitchen and I love that it keeps her busy.
4. Simple Formula for a healthy lunch:
I fill each of the 5 compartments of the Bentgo Box as follows:
- Main dish from supper (usually includes a protein and a starch like pasta, potatoes or rice)
- A cut up fruit (my daughter loves strawberries, blueberries or apple slices)
- Cut up vegetables (baby carrots, sliced cherry tomatoes, peppers or cucumbers are super quick and kid-friendly)
- A piece of cheese. The French always include a piece of cheese in their lunch and it is a tradition we have carried on as well.
- I love to include a little sweet treat. Sometimes it is fresh baked cookies, other times it is a few chocolate graham crackers from a box, regardless, it always gets her excited about her lunch.
5. Keep it cool
Packit Freezable lunch bags are a revelation! It looks like an insulated lunch bag (that perfectly fits the Bentgo box) but it really is a freezer pack. The entire lunch bag folds flat in the freezer. It keeps my kids's lunch cold all day. No more slimy cheese!
My friend, Jessica Gust of Element Nutrition Co suggested these to me last year and I haven't looked back.
Healthy and easy school lunch Ideas
I hope you have enjoyed my 5 top healthy and easy school lunch ideas. Here are some other articles you might enjoy on my blog about making good food, simple.
Healthy Freezer Meal Batch Cooking
Foolproof Eggplant Lasagna Recipe
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Le Chef's Wife
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How do you keep some things warm at the same time as keep things cold? See your lunch box with pasta and bolognese sauce (that would not taste so good cold). It's in the same box with things that need to be cold.
And even if you chose just to do hot, how to keep it warm in the lunch box for hours and without risking bacteria?
Hello Jacqueline! Thank you for your comment. I actually keep everything cold in the lunch box. My daughter eats the cold bolognaise sauce, no problem. It is like cold pizza - even better the next day!