Healthy and Creative Kid Lunch Ideas For School
Five days of five great lunch ideas.
Get your child off to a fresh start this year with these creative out-of-the-box school lunch ideas from Indiana University Health dietitians Allison Sattison, R.D. and JoAnne Whelan, R.D.
- DAY ONE: Deconstruct a sandwich. Instead of piling sandwich fillings between two slices of bread, turn your kid’s favorite sandwich into a kabob, suggests Whelan. Alternate chunks of turkey, cheese, cherry tomatoes, cubes of cucumber or pickles — whatever your child likes. Pack the kabob with a small container of something to dip it in, like ranch salad dressing or hummus.
- DAY TWO: Put a lid on it. Make this a salad day. Pour a serving of low-fat dressing or equal parts oil and vinegar or lemon juice into the bottom of clean Mason jar or tall, narrow plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Layer salad fixings on top, putting the heartiest items on the bottom. The lettuce should go in last so it doesn’t wilt. Be creative with the mix-ins, advises Whelan: Toss in dried cherries or raisins, nuts, cheese chunks, pineapple chunks, unsweetened coconut chips, or whatever your child will eat. At lunchtime she can shake up the jar to distribute the dressing.
- DAY THREE: Vary the dairy. Milk isn’t the only source of calcium and vitamin D, Sattison points out. Think outside the carton: Create a meal around string cheese, cottage cheese, Greek or a low-sugar flavored yogurt. Include fruit (pineapple to mix into the cottage cheese or yogurt, for example, grapes to munch alongside the cheese. Include whole-grain crackers as a crunchy carb and pack a bottle of water to wash it all down.
- DAY FOUR: Roll with it. When a schoolmate of Whelan’s son brought sushi, the other kids wanted some too, she says. “Sushi makes a really fun lunch,” she says. “Stick with all-veggie rolls or those made with cooked fish and include a side of edamame.”
- DAY FIVE: Wrap up the week with a wrap. Spread a whole-wheat tortilla with mashed avocado or mashed black beans, top with narrow slices of cheese and left-over grilled chicken or steak, add chopped lettuce, roll up the tortilla tightly, and slice into four rounds — they’ll look like pinwheels, says Sattison. Or roll up a twist on pizza: Spread the tortilla with marinara sauce, fresh spinach leaves, and cheese stick.