It’s almost time for the kids to head back to school and that means providing them with healthy lunches that will (hopefully) keep them full until they get home. If you’re like me, then you’ve probably been guilty of spending way too much time planning, cooking, and packaging lunches, only to have them half eaten and wasted, which left you resorting to easy sandwiches every day of the week - yup, guilty! What if I told you, those aren’t the only options? No, really! With these five easy and tasty back to school lunch ideas, lunches will no longer be the bane of your existence as a parent.
1. Rolled Sandwiches
The Monday go-to rolled sandwiches. Let's talk about rolled up foods, they’re easy, not at all messy, and kids love them! This is a great lunch idea if you have multiple kids or are short on groceries. You can put anything you want in them, from leftover Thanksgiving turkey to sliced ham and chicken. They can be eaten in wrap form or sliced up, and you can fit vegetables in them, and they still wrap up tightly. Simply load up a tortilla with your favorite ingredients, wrap tightly, and serve!
2. Quinoa Salad
Quinoa salad is a healthy and nutritious lunch option that offers lots of variety for those picky eaters. On days when my kids have soccer, I usually make them quinoa salad for lunch as it is very filling and can generally keep them tied over until dinner (occasionally they will need a granola bar or small snack during soccer). Merely mix quinoa with your kid's favorite meat, cheese, and veggies and dress lightly with a basic vinaigrette. I like to make a large enough batch Monday night so that the whole family can have healthy quinoa salad lunches for the week.
3. Breakfast for Lunch
In my family, some mornings (more than I’d like to admit) we are rushing out the door with only enough time for a bowl of cereal or in some extreme cases, fruit. However, sometimes I wake up early and make chocolate chip pancakes or waffles. On those days I like to make extra food and save it for lunches. I’ve found that pancakes freeze really well, I just take some out of the freezer the day before and let it thaw in the fridge. I usually add a hard boiled egg, fresh fruit, or leftover sausage to their lunches and voila, breakfast for lunch, an easy meal they never pass up!
4. Sweet Potato Chickpea Patties
Chickpea patties (or healthy chicken nuggets as my kids call them) might look challenging but they are actually super easy to make, and they are incredible! Besides tasting unbelievably delicious, they have fiber, protein, iron, and zinc. In the food processor blend 1 cup sweet potato puree, 1 can of chickpeas (drained), ¼ cup parsley leaves, ¼ cup diced onion, ¼ cup rolled oats, ¼ cup whole wheat flour, ½ tsp dried thyme, ½ tsp paprika, salt & pepper to taste. Form into equal-sized patties, and fry on a lightly oiled non-stick skillet until golden brown (about 5 minutes on each side).
5. Whole Wheat (Pita Bread) Pizza
Fridays are for pizza! Not only does everyone love eating pizza (at least in my family), they love making it! I usually get things started and then have the kids roll out the dough, put their toppings on it, and pop it into the oven. Remember to use a high-quality pair of oven mitts, especially if your kids are helping. I use the Sili-Mitts silicone potholders and oven mitts as they have an extra long length that protects your forearms from burns. You can use any pizza dough recipe, or if you are short on time and want something a little easier, you could make pita bread pizza using whole wheat pita bread. Preheat the oven to 375 F, spread pizza sauce over the whole-wheat pita, sprinkle cheese and other toppings and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese melts.