It’s easy to send your child off to school with a healthy school lunch – but the real question every parent struggles with is: will he or she eat it? We may not know your child’s tastes, but there are many ways to create a delicious and healthy school lunch without having to get too crafty. That’s why we have rounded up some of our favorite lunches to share with you and your youngster.
Healthy School Lunch Options
1. Lettuce wraps
Staying gluten-free can be really difficult when you and your family are used to the quick and easy sandwich. Never fear! Lettuce wraps are here! All you’ll need are:
- Butter lettuce
- A protein of your choice – we think teriyaki chicken or tofu are pretty delicious
- A crunchy veggie like shredded carrots or thinly sliced cucumber
- The appropriate dipping sauce like teriyaki sauce if you’re going that route – or ranch/Italian dressing
- A fun toothpick
All you have to do is wrap the protein and crunchy veg into a big leaf of lettuce and secure everything with the fun toothpick. Just make sure to include an appropriate dipping sauce! This is not only a great way to get your child to eat a breadless sandwich, but you can use it to get rid of leftovers like chicken or tuna salad – just as you would with a regular sandwich.
2. A secret salad
A lot of kids won’t eat salad. That’s why we disguise ours as a veggie plate with a high protein dip! You will need:
- Your child’s favorite veggies (raw carrots, celery, and peppers work best)
Present this as a traditional cocktail party vegetable plate. It’s a simple and filling meal!
3. Food on sticks
Sometimes presentation is everything. Kids who would “never” eat anything but PB&J get excited about being served kabob style. Frankly, kabobs are fun to eat – and you can put just about anything on a stick. We aren’t going to give you a recipe here, but you can create a chicken satay, add beef with some veggies to a stick, go completely vegetarian, or even put an entire fruit salad on sticks. No matter what you add, just remember to make it fun – and to add dipping sauce as needed.
4. Kid-friendly sushi
If your child likes tuna, salmon, or crab and enjoys a fancier look to his or her lunch, try making kid-friendly sushi. In fact, you aren’t the only one stuck with this duty. Ask your young one to help you create and roll his or her sushi lunch. You will need:
- Precooked rice (preferably sticky, short-grained rice)
- Rice vinegar
- Seaweed sheets
- Bamboo rolling mat
- Filling (try enjoying anything from cooked fish like salmon or halibut to raw veggies with crunch – like carrots, cucumbers, or red peppers)
If you’re using leftover regular rice, there is a way to give it that “sushi” consistency. Get 1 cup rice to 2 cups boiling water and cook them in an open pot until the rice has absorbed the water. Turn off the heat and cover. Leave the rice in the pot for another 5-10 mins. This is best done in a rice cooker.
Once you have your pre-cooked rice, mix 1/4 cup rice vinegar and ⅛ cup sugar for every cup of rice in a separate bowl (you may want to heat this mixture a bit to melt the sugar.) Add the rice to the mixing bowl and fold it gently. Let the rice sit for about 10 mins to absorb the mixture, then fold it again.
Follow your rolling mat instructions for preparation. Once it’s all set up, lay a piece of seaweed on the mat, top it with about ¼ inch of rice, add filling, and roll.
You may end up with a messy sushi roll, but if you are preparing these with your child – who cares? As long as you are both having fun and he or she will eat your preparations for lunch the next day!
Be sure to pack a yummy dipping sauce to go with the sushi. You can go traditional and pack a low sodium soy sauce, or use anything else your child might enjoy.
5. Protein-rich vegan salad
In the Midwest, it seems that almost any mix of foods can be labeled a salad. We’ve done that many times with a high-protein, vegan salad. Because a lot of kids don’t want to eat “gross” green lettuce, we recommend swapping out the greenery for quinoa or lentils. These high-protein alternatives go great with finely chopped kale, a smattering of corn, red peppers, shredded carrots, and just about any other veggie. Another great thing about these types of salads is that you can pre-dress them. So if you don’t want your kid dunking every bite in a ton of dressing, you have nothing to worry about!
We know children can be picky about their school lunches. Here’s hoping one of these fun, colorful – and healthy – options works for your child!
Are you looking to improve your child’s health, naturally? Make an appointment at Flow Natural Health Care today! We work to boost the health of children of all ages through our Well Child Exams, Vaccine Consultations, Food Introduction Consultations, Allergy Testing and more!