Choosing and preparing healthy lunches that your kids will actually enjoy can be quite a challenge. They have to be easy to make, portable, healthy and tasty?
That’s a tall order.
Fortunately, your children aren’t likely to be gourmands who need a lot of variety for their palette, and a few basic lunch ideas can be modified with several varieties to create quick and healthy options. Here are a few simple ideas for healthy lunches that your kids will actually enjoy:
While kids might love anything that comes sandwiched between two slices of bread, most breads just add a lot of extra calories and carbs without the same nutritional punch. Experiment with creating tasty wraps that your kids will love for all the same reasons – delicious ingredients in a carby package and easy to eat.
Try out turkey pinwheels by spreading a bit of hummus or cream cheese on a small whole-wheat tortilla, then layer on slices or strips of turkey, lettuce, tomatoes and any other favorite ingredients. Roll up your wrap and cut into small rounds. For variations, try different sauces (though avoid anything that will make the wrap too soggy), meats, cheese and veggies. By rotating the ingredients you use, you can ensure that your child gets a variety of nutrients and doesn’t tire of the same old lunch
Pastas can also represent a lot of empty calories if you choose processed varieties made with white flour. Opt for whole wheat varieties and experiment with add-ins for a nutritious and delicious lunch. Whole wheat spirals or macaroni make a good base for a kid friendly lunch.
Add in a source of protein, like turkey, beans, tuna or cheese, then add in some vegetables such as peas or broccoli. Choose a light tomato-based sauce or one that uses olive oil and vinegar. Pair your pasta salad with other fun sides like apple slices, carrot sticks, cubes of cheese, or berries.
With the help of a thermos and an ice pack, smoothies can become a viable option for lunch time. Kids will love the creamy flavor and what feels like a “milk shake” or other dessert item, and parents can sneak in a lot of nutritional favorites when preparing the smoothie.
Start with a fruit base like bananas or strawberries; add water, milk or yogurt; and blend in a protein source (a dollop of peanut butter, some protein powder, or a quality yogurt).
You can make endless varieties by changing up the types of fruits you use and even by adding in veggies. If you have a high-powered blender, you can add veggies to a smoothie with fruits, and the taste of the veggies will be masked by the fruit. However, if you use dark vegetables, you might get a green smoothie, which kids could shy away from just because of its looks.
An easy kids’ favorite is a bento box, or a snack box. Choose favorites such as slices of cheese, cups of yogurt or cottage cheese, whole wheat crackers, deli meat slices, carrot sticks, grapes and other fruits, and more. The idea is to include a variety of finger foods that your child will enjoy eating with his hands. Be sure to include good sources of proteins, grains, and vegetables and fruits for a balanced meal.
There are many other kid-friendly lunches that can be made quickly and offer nutritious options – such as soups and stews, mini quiches and roll ups. Experiment with versions of favorites that your kids enjoy at home and focus on including a variety of nutrients.
What other kid-friendly lunches do you and your children enjoy?
Tell us in the comments!
Bio: Born and raised in North Carolina, Heather Green has worked as a fashion and beauty consultant as well as freelancing for various wedding, fashion, and health publications. She currently acts as the resident blogger for Online Nursing Degrees where she’s been researching lpn to bsn degrees as well as online msn degrees